If you read my bio, you’ll see I marked this as a dislike.
And I mean it. I am not a fan of Devil’s Advocate. I don’t play it, I don’t appreciate it, and I don’t like the name. Ew. It’s a sure fire way to get someone to tune out.
However, there are plenty of people out there who would strongly disagree with me on this, or maybe just a little. Let me explain myself as I think this is sometimes an issue we all face with various relationships we have and we don’t always process this kind of help the same way. So, I’ll tell you, as someone who dislikes it greatly, why I am against playing this.
For starters, I may feel differently about this sort of tactic once I am a mother. That being said, until then, I am not in charge of anyone’s learning. Unless I see someone in danger with a large chance of getting severely hurt, I don’t find it to be my place to play the other side.
In fact, everyone in my life usually comes to me to vent. That’s what we do with our friends and usually our families. We hear them out, let them say their feelings and most of all, let them feel supported. I find that the problem with playing Devil’s Advocate is the recipient of it feels like there is a lack of empathy.
Additionally, it’s a freakin’ waste of time! If there is anything I have learned in the past 30 years, it’s that people do what they want. They date who they want, take the job they want, react how they feel, etc. We are all different people on different journeys and even though our experience tells us one thing, that outcome, feeling, or realization may not apply to someone else.
But alas! There is a way to play this role but in disguise!
There is also a way to play Devil’s Advocate without sounding so unsupportive and it usually comes in the form of a question. “What do you think was going through their head?” “Do you think x?” “Has that ever happened before?” The question asking usually gets people to thinking outside of their own anger or thoughts and you end up getting them to play the role on their own. Ta-da! What a concept! No point in sounding like you are in full support of the other side while realistically, all people want is to talk, not for you to solve their problems. Your answer during their irrational, emotional moment could just enhance all their problems… which makes you just not helpful. And though your intentions may be good, you might not being the kind of friend they need during that time.