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Why Are We Yelling?: The Art of Productive Disagreement
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Why Are We Yelling?: The Art of Productive Disagreement

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  565 ratings  ·  91 reviews
Have you ever walked away from an argument and suddenly thought of all the brilliant things you wish you'd said? Do you avoid certain family members and colleagues because of bitter, festering tension that you can't figure out how to address?

Now, finally, there's a solution: a secret framework that frees you from the trap of unproductive conflict and pointle
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published November 19th 2019 by Portfolio
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Average rating 3.67  · 
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Adithyan Raj
Aug 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone having a hard time in relationships
This was a really helpful book that helped rebuild my relationship with my father and helped me have more productive disagreements as the title rightly declares. I would recommend this to anyone like me who is having a hard time with their loved ones or even their boss. The rules of this book are universal and very practical and can be applied immediately.
Carmen Tracey
Jan 06, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
First, a confession: I went into this book with very little information, thinking it was about interpersonal conflict. It is not; rather, it mostly discusses the organizational and societal aspects of disagreement. This is a book clearly born from Facebook flame wars and Silicon Valley breakout groups, not hissed arguments between spouses behind closed doors while the kids are asleep. In fact, aside from a brief account of an argument with his wife and a rather precious anecdote about his son's ...more
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was ok
I had high hopes for this book. The first half was really good. The second half was full of rambling about gun violence, poilitics, paranormal, ouija boards, paranormal and ghosts.
Robyn Hammontree
Dec 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Highly recommend this book for anyone who:

-Regularly works and lives in spaces where you come into conflict.
-Is afraid to disagree with someone or something.
-Recognizes that silencing your own disagreement has impacted your mental health.
Jan 24, 2020 rated it liked it
This book has some good moments. The early chapter on sources of anxiety, for example, is not original, but the author describes the ideas well.

The book gets far more muddled in the application. For Benson‘s approach to work as promised, the stakes of all arguments have to be relatively low and more-or-less equitably distributed among those arguing. If, for example, a group of exclusively middle-class white men was getting together to argue about abortion policy (not that that would EVER happen)
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Very useful food for thought for how to respond to disagreements more productively. He calls this more of an art than a science and I agree. Since reading this book, I have tried to approach conflict with his tips in mind, not in all cases successfully yet. I will keep working on this because I’m sold that the alternative he proposes — approaching openly and listening generously— is a better way to live.

Disclosure: I worked with Buster and have seen his productive disagreement skills firsthand.
Dec 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Useful and sorely needed book. The first half is really good but the rest feels like filler.
Jan 22, 2020 rated it liked it
Productive disagreement takes aggression out of the equation. After reading this book, you’ll learn how to recognize your triggers of anxieties, identify inner voices and vigil your biases before they lead to unproductive disagreements. With understanding these cues, you will be capable enough to respond to situations rather than react to them; and express your emotions in a healthy, constructive and self-control way even to the most controversial topics.

It’s common perception that arguments ar
Feb 24, 2020 rated it it was ok
Stopping at half way on this one. Found some of the concepts to be thought provoking about understanding another person's side of things. Nothing I would consider groundbreaking. But there were some extreme efforts to discredit or downplay truth that I couldn't get my head around. ...more
Feb 12, 2020 rated it liked it
I've got a bit of a love-hate relationship with books like this. This is one of a number of books I've been reading on how to have a better dialogue. It turns out it's a difficult subject, and I think I might be tapped out on the learning I can do through reading.

This wasn't a particularly scholarly book. But the writing style was pleasant and enjoyable and engaging. Given that the author doesn't appear to be a social psychologist and the references aren't copious I knew to take this with a gra
ben marshall
Jan 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thoughtful review of why and how we argue

Helped me to identify the different types of arguments I have and what they are focused on. Voices of power, reason and avoidance as well as head heart hands is useful conceptually to frame how you approach a difficult discussion with competing points of view. I could feel my own defensiveness flair when certain topics were being discussed which just further demonstrated the biases and responses described in the book. Overall good read, didnt agree with e
Darryl Burling
Lots of good, but doesn't close the loop

This book has lots of great ideas and research in it but I couldn't help but feel that the author was like an archer aiming at a target behind a deflector shield. The arrows seemed to fly straight and true only to dart off in the wrong direction at the last moment! I suspect this was due to his own(and possibly my own) cognitive bias, but at least we had a conversation about it. 😁
Eakan Gopalakrishnan
Jan 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Truly the art of productive disagreement.
Never been good at disagreement. However, after every disagreement, I go do a replay in my head thinking I offended someone, whether I was too harsh etc. But never really managed to focus on how to make a disagreement productive.
This book reminds us of what we could do to make arguments better.
Jan 28, 2020 rated it liked it
The practical advice in the second half of the book isn't especially practical, but the first half introduces a useful framework for thinking about disagreement. ...more
Feb 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book has some great background around the topics of conflict, anxiety, cognitive biases and practical strategies to make conflicts more productive. I also appreciated his open ended approach.
May 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love this book. I started learning more about biases and systematic thinking after reading Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow. That led me to wanting to learn a new cognitive bias every day, from a wiki page I found some years ago, and it turns out that page was by Benson. (He references the page at the start of this book.)

This text cannot be more timely. The current environments we are trying to navigate both socially and professionally are messier than ever before, and conflicts are no longer
Stevo Brock
Nov 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was Stevo's Business Book of the Week for the week of 11/24, as selected by Stevo's Book Reviews on the Internet and Stevo's Novel Ideas. Frees you from the trap of unproductive conflict and pointless arguing.

Find more Business Books of the week on my Goodreads Listopia page at, and find many more recommended books on my Amazon Influencer page at
Nov 19, 2020 rated it it was ok
Great that the author wants everyone to have more productive disagreements. Great ambition. But he never gets there. This book is focused on his own stories and about the american debates in gun control etc. So not a book for disagreements in general. Also I doubt his premise that all disagreements comes from a feeling of anxiety. Some interesting points in this book but not enough.
Jul 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book helped me understand deeper reasoning to disagreements and how to ask specific questions to better understand other perspectives.
Kressel Housman
Sep 12, 2020 rated it liked it
When the book was about the psychology behind arguments, I was into it, but when it got into specific political questions of debate, I got bored.
Andrea Hill
Jul 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 11, 2020 rated it did not like it
The first couple of chapters were great! I started thinking this book was what I needed to learn about productive disagreement. Then the author started showing his political side. In Chapter 4, he went full-on political, and then stated that he couldn't handle any sort of political discussion, so he went into full avoidance mode. That's not exactly productive disagreement. Everything he wrote after that seemed hypocritical. I can't recommend this book because the author clearly does not understa ...more
Jan 20, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, self-help
This book is good starting point to consider ways in which we argue and how to practice active listening. Benson list ways in which we fail to successfully argue and how the climate in the US is shifting from engaging in discussion in which we disagree with people to not willing to hear different opinions.

The examples Benson's uses were well chosen and presented a good way to challenge our individual methods of approaching discussions in such controversial topics. Specifically when he discusses
Synthia Salomon
Jan 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
So happy this was my book of the day on Blinkist. Accordingly, “We’re conditioned to believe that arguments are negative and best avoided. The truth is, productive disagreements are essential to healthy communication. We need to recalibrate the way we approach disagreements, and make connection, growth, and understanding the end goals for our arguments. When we disagree productively, we’re all winners!

Actionable advice:

Try your (pot)luck!

There’s something about sharing a meal around a table that
Aug 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
There are some books you wish everyone would read and take to heart. So well done.
Jan 23, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
If you want to get started on the path of productive arguments :) then this is the book; the section with voices specially resonated with me and how these four types "Power", "Reason", "Avoidance" & "Possibility" enfluence the direction in which everything will flow.

Ignoring Ideas we don't like doesn't make them go away!!

Thank you Mr B for a compiled list for easy lookup.
Jan 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Very nice book, excellently explaining the movements in our minds, that kick in when there is someone with opposing ideas. Recommend to everyone who talks to people and comes to negotiations.
Ema Sumema
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
We’re conditioned to believe that arguments are negative and best avoided. The truth is, productive disagreements are essential to healthy communication. We need to recalibrate the way we approach disagreements, and make connection, growth, and understanding the end goals for our arguments. When we disagree productively, we’re all winners!
Jan 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
One of my favourite elements of this book;

“....Luckily, there’s another voice, the voice of possibility. This voice sees disagreement as a beginning for dialogue. It seeks out new angles and perspectives. It might ask, “Why do you feel that way?”...”
Esther Keller
Jan 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: self-help
Fascinating, but not what I expected. It didn't' feel like this would help me in my day to day disagreements, but certainly gave a blueprint for thinking about larger and more theoretical ones. ...more
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