The Value of the Devil’s Advocate


In his latest book, “That Used to Be Us” released yesterday, September 6, Thomas Friedman, author of “The World is Flat” and “Hot, Flat and Crowded“, speaks to the degradation in the way our two political parties approach one another in negations.  That our elected officials cannot become unstuck from arguing over positions rather than trying to solve anything is an annoyance shared by just about every thoughtful[i] U.S. citizen and perhaps all global citizens that look to us for leadership (which, in spite of ourselves, is still just about everybody).

Mr. Friedman points to a time when our two political parties were much more heterogeneous in that some high powered conservatives did reside within the ranks of the Democratic Party and people of great wealth with liberal views were among the Republicans.  What this engendered was the ability for parties to have meaningful conversations amongst themselves where issues were viewed from more than one angle.  So, by the time they had come to negotiate or argue their points, both parties were each more likely to have a deeper understanding and appreciation for their opponents view point.

Today, according to Mr. Friedman, our two political parties are very homogeneous. This leads to each side having very little, if any, sensitivities to the opposing points a view.  We are then left with stalemate and complete breakdown in progress, and a structural destabilization of ours society.

In my view, this is exactly why the devil’s advocate view is always a vital component to formulating a proposed solution where constituent buy-in is necessary for successful adoption and deployment or execution.  The next time someone in your group appears to be sabotaging some grand plan that seems like a no-brainer to the majority of the group or in some other way appears less enthused about a celebrated solution, we might do ourselves good by raising inquiry and supporting an environment where the voice of the devil’s advocate can be heard and respected.  There need not be any action taken on the remarks of the devil’s advocate.  Just diligently listening to their remarks raises awareness of potential points of contention and that will only better prepare us for negotiations or other message delivery efforts upon which we are about to embark.

In closing, I also share with you this article (CLICK HERE) at the bottom of which there is a 72 minute interview of Thomas Friedman by Walter Isaacson.  Quite thought moving in my opinion. Enjoy!

As always, I welcome and encourage comments and feedback.

Thanks for reading and have a Great Day!

Matt G.


[i] By using the word “thoughtful” I intend to describe any and all persons full of capacity for thought and not as someone who is viewed as kind and courteous as is usually the common definition of the word

About Matt Gorman

Life-long learner. Collaboration enthusiast. Avid cyclist.
This entry was posted in Business Communication, Business Relationships, Leadership and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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