Today we are going to talk about a topic that I think is a really key part of emotional intelligence.
Emotional Intelligence is absolutely critical for you to succeed in your career. It would be interesting to do some research about what percent of people are fired for reasons that trace back to a lack of emotional intelligence. I have to believe it is pretty high. Working on improving your emotional intelligence is something I believe we should all be doing all the time.
Today’s topic – logical fallacy – will give you another way to think about emotional intelligence. Logical fallacy is a concept that fits within critical thinking. Critical thinking is a skill that we must all develop, and just as important, keep sharp through constant practice and vigilance. When you are drawing conclusions using critical thinking, logical fallacies can sometimes cause you to draw bad or wrong conclusions. So, it is very helpful to understand the types of logical fallacies and be able to spot them when you either encounter them or fall into the trap yourself.
When you are engaged in critical thinking, you evaluate evidence in order to draw conclusions. Logical fallacies are errors in thinking that weaken or discredit an argument. It can be very easy to miss these errors and arrive at a wrong conclusion.
There are eight types of logical fallacies to become familiar with.
An argument that attacks the person rather than their argument or claim. You are making it personal rather than about the idea.
For example, the head of your department, who is nearing retirement and has been with the company for 30 years, announces a new policy that you disagree with. Your argument for disagreeing is “this guy is so stuck in his ways that he doesn’t understand corporate culture anymore.”
This is when you exaggerate the ideas that people are debating. For example, you present an improvement idea to your manager and she tells you that, although it is a good idea, she can’t approve it. Your reaction is “I can’t believe she is so insecure that she is going to block my idea because it wasn’t hers.”
This is where you jump to the conclusion that something must be true because it is popular of many people believe it.
This fallacy is one we all learn when we are children when our mom tells us “if George jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge, would you?”
In a corporate environment, I think this one is a really sneaky one. A lot of times, the way we operate within our job is based a lot on bandwagon arguments – or what might be more commonly called cultural norms or habits. Think about someone in your company who you know about, but don’t know personally. What do you know about that person? Whatever it is you know, you know it because you’ve gathered the information from others. You’ve gotten on the bandwagon.
This is when you jump to the conclusion that is one thing is allowed to happen, then it will trigger a chain of events.
I have no hard evidence for this, but my experience is that some people are more prone to the Slippery Slope fallacy than others.
I don’t even have to make up an example for this one. I have an example that I’ve encountered multiple times in my career. Its been a tough year and your company has missed its financial goals. As a result, the leadership team decides that there will be a freeze on salaries. No raises this year. The management team is brought together and notified of the decision. The response of the managers is “well, we better be ready for the consequences. I expect nearly everyone will resign. For sure, I’m going to lose my best performers. Then we’ll have to hire unexperienced people, which is going to cause us to struggle to meet customer expectations, which means we’ll probably miss our financial targets again this year.’
Again, logical fallacies can cause you to draw bad or wrong conclusions. When it comes to the slippery slope, you are pontificating about the downstream impacts of a decision that may or may not come to fruition. You need to be able to balance the need to think through and plan for downstream impacts of a decisions with the fallacy of drawing the conclusion that these things will happen.
This is when someone introduces a new claim as a distraction from the original argument.
For example, a coworker promised to have a report to you by the end of the day yesterday. You didn’t get it so you reach out to get an update. He says, “did you see that memo that came out yesterday telling us we aren’t getting a raise this year?”
This is where you wrongly assume that there are only two possible conclusions to an issue.
For example, you are running up against a deadline and you really need to sell this deal in order to make your quota. The pressure is on. The client is moving slow and you are worried they may be hesitating due to price. You call your manager and say “we either give them a discount or lose this deal altogether.”
Appeal to Emotion
This is when you make a claim that manipulates the other person’s emotions rather than addressing the actual issue.
Let’s return to the freeze on raises example. The management team is brought together and notified, and the manager responds, “how can you do this to these employees? These people are family. They worked hard. They have rent to pay and mouths to feed.”
This is when you draw the wrong assumption that because two things happened at the same time, one thing caused the other.
Let’s go back to the sales quota example. The sales manager tells the sales person that they can’t give the discount, they will just need to find another way to get the deal done. He contacts the client to find out if they have made a decision and they tell him that they have decided not to sign the contract. The sales person tells his coworker, “she cost me the deal and my quota because she was too cheap to give them a discount.”
What our sales guy doesn’t know is that the client was just bought out by a competitor, so they no longer have authority to make a purchase. The deal was lost with or without the discount.
Which Logical Fallacy Do You Use?
So, your homework for this week is to try and notice logical fallacies at work in your life. Where are you drawing bad conclusions due to your reliance on one of these fallacies? When you are using your critical thinking skills, are you examining all of the evidence before jumping to a conclusion, or are you relying on one of these logical fallacies to do your thinking for you?
In this episode, you’ll learn:
Help us spread the word:
I teach people how to thrive at work. Let's connect on LinkedIn
Listen and subscribe wherever you enjoy your podcasts, including:
Please note: wherever I reference a book the link is an Amazon affiliate link. Your cost is the same, but a small portion of your purchase comes back to me to help offset the costs of the podcast. I've also got a list of all of the books I read that you can peruse.