Using the “Devil’s Advocate” to your advantage, even when sometimes it feels insane.
The other day while browsing Twitter my friend tweeted something that I objectively agreed with, and even though I thought “that makes complete sense and I understand his perspective” I immediately brought up a counter-argument.
It wasn’t even really a counter-argument either it was more of a sarcastic retort that I could just envision someone not agreeing with his position would say.
It kind of made me sick, not just because what I was thinking was so counter to my beliefs, but because I could put myself in their shoes so easily.
I could understand why they would think that, and really hold it deeply in their core as a world view.
I think this ability to play the devil’s advocate so well is both a strength and a curse, that can be adapted and grown over time.
By being able to deeply empathize with one’s position — even if it’s completely messed up and wrong according to your own world-view — you can understand how they might react, and thus how to ultimately coerce what you want the outcome of the engagement to be.
It’s a basic instinct in the art of war.
Empathy can be used for good, and for very selfish means — and while both may be important, the latter always feels dirty. It feels wrong, mainly because you’re afraid that if you keep thinking that way you’re going to lose a piece of yourself — to diverge from your own core beliefs.
While this is the case I believe it is essential to always pay attention to all angles of a potential conflict, engagement, agreement, argument, or even conversation so that if things go south you’re always prepared for the worst — while obviously hoping for the best.
Playing devil’s advocate when you don’t believe in what you’re arguing for is just ridiculous in most circumstances, but sometimes it’s essential — like dealing with someone who won’t respond to anything but reverse psychology (for whatever reason).
Sometimes playing devil’s advocate can be extremely helpful too when you’re actually wrong in your core beliefs, and you challenge your beliefs from a more objective stance than you typically would — something that I feel we are all lacking more and more as time goes on, in an us-vs-them world where we feel forced to pick a side.
Either way I believe using the “devil’s advocate” can be a massive strength — even though sometimes it might feel like you’re going insane while doing so.