I hate arguing.
I even have a post about how pointless it is to argue on the internet.
I used to work in sales and I would get into a lot of arguments with the people I was trying to sell my product to. They would disagree with something I was saying and then get annoyed when I tried to prove them wrong. Soon it would escalate and the sale was lost.
I eventually learned how to cut my loses as fast as possible, but I always wondered.
Is there a better way to argue?
I’m talking about a scenario in which I can get my point across, maybe convince the person, and have both parties walk away happy?
Well, it’s taken me many years, but I think I have a better grasp on the concept these days.
Never argue, only discuss!
I know that you may not see any difference but as soon as you take the word “argue” completely out of your vocabulary you will change the way you view these interactions. You never imagine two people yelling at each other and think “Wow, they must be discussing something big.” Nope. At that point it is an argument.
This is the same reason that I don’t like the word “Stranger”. I feel like it has an automatic connotation that anyone you don’t know is strange. Maybe this makes no difference. I wouldn’t know for sure.
The first step I take to solving any problem I have is examining how I view it. This change in language makes a massive difference. If you vow that you will never argue, and instead you will only have discussions, you will have a much better chance of convincing people.
It’s okay to be wrong.
When you go into a discussion you have to understand that while you think the other person is wrong, they think the same thing about you. One of you has to be right. So logically one of you has to be wrong. You have to accept you might be that person.
If you can never admit that you are wrong, even on small points, then the other person will never be swayed by you.
This can apply to miscommunications as well. If the the other person didn’t understand what you said then it might have been because you didn’t explain yourself properly. Instead of blaming the other person for their lack of understanding, take it as a chance to explain yourself again.
Keep emotion out of it.
When you let your emotions into a discussion you are asking for disaster. It’s more likely that you’ll over react to statements the other person makes, and you are more likely to give exaggerated statements yourself.
When emotion comes in to either side of a discussion, it usually becomes a waste of time past that point. Neither person will be able to convince the other once they are blinded by their emotions and biases.
If you can avoid bringing emotion into the conversation, hopefully you can have a proper give and take discussion.
Try not to raise your voice and don’t throw mud at the other person by calling them names. Once you get off topic and start focusing on each other instead of the matter at hand, neither of you will gain anything from further arguing.
Use “I” statements.
This one is pretty simple. Instead of saying “You never do the dishes!” You could say “I feel like I end up doing dishes more often than I should have to.”
The goal of this approach is to avoid outright attacking the other person. When you use an “I” statement you are expressing how you feel without putting the other person on the defensive right away. If they don’t feel attacked, they will be more open to your opinion.
I feel like this blog post is just about done.
One more tip though.
Accept that some people won’t budge.
Almost everyone has concrete beliefs that they are unwilling to change. I’m not saying it’s a good quality, but it’s a fact of life. You can’t convince everyone one hundred percent of the time.
If you go into a discussion with this in mind you greatly increase the risk of it turning into a useless argument.
More yelling, yet nothing is really heard.
Hopefully if you follow these tips you can have more effective discussions. Maybe you can even change a few minds. But most of all, I hope you both walk away without being upset.