What is an argument?
To understand why we should avoid arguments we must first understand what an argument is.
An argument is a statement or a set of statements that one uses to try to convince or persuade someone else that their opinion about something is correct.
Often times in life each of us has been involved in one or the other argument, especially when it is one about our very core beliefs.
More often than not arguments turn into heated battles of raging tempers and in the end, the very goal we were trying to achieve, i.e. to persuade the other person becomes impossible.
Arguments never work
“Insulted, you become even more dogmatic in holding your incorrect beliefs than you were before you were insulted.”-Trey Gowdy
As we talk about in our previous blog on maintaining relationships, nobody wins in an argument.
If you lose the argument then you feel even more passionately for your position and if the other person loses, they feel the same.
No matter who thinks they won the argument, both parties have lost. Thus we should always try to avoid arguments.
The ego factor
In the modern world of highly accessible information and fast-paced progress, we go through many things and build countless assumptions on things most of which are not fully thought out.
However, since we have personally learned those lessons we feel they are part of our identity and belief system.
In continuous argumentation, we are trying to feel better ourselves and have lost track of the main goal, to convince the other person.
Yes, we might feel better shortly, but in exchange, we have only made the other person feel worse-off.
The only thing we were able to achieve is spite of the other person.
We were not interested in finding common ground, instead, we just wanted to be right, and not just be right what was most important to us was that the other person knows that we were right.
Therefore, in the end, it is about satisfying the ego. Which as we all understand never helps in the long term.
Can we win in an argument?
Simple answer, we cannot win an argument. No matter what we try, when ego’s strike the situations are bound to get ugly.
However, we know now that what each person wants is to win the ego war. What happens when we let the other person win to avoid arguments?
When we know the apprehension in the argument is only bound to escalate, what we can do is give up on stroking our own ego and agree with the other person.
Admit that his viewpoint has some merit. Once we agree to that, there is no need to argue any longer. Since you heard them, the animosity is gone and pride dissolved. Now you have the opportunity to have a real conversation.
“We don’t think you fight fire with fire best; we think you fight fire with water best. ”-Fred Hampton
You cannot convince someone that does not want to be convinced
Let us think about a hypothetical scenario. You go and ask someone else what is the best thing to do in a certain situation.
They think for a while and end up giving you a suggestion that is long and substantive. What is your immediate reaction?
You think over the entire suggestion and then, go through a pick and choose phase. You might agree to things that ‘click with you’. The things that agree with you.
Most times, you might just ignore everything else.
It is possible that there were a lot of upsides that were possible if you challenged your own assumptions, tried to have an open mind, and considered trying the other things as well.
However, that is difficult.
It takes high emotional maturity to suppress our own emotional reactions and choose our response.
The difficulty we face is the same one that everyone else faces.
Maybe now you understand more about why it is so difficult to overcome the inertia of our way of life.
“You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him to find it within himself.”-Galileo
How can you avoid arguments?
Firstly, you should come from a position of open-mindedness.
Admit that you do not know everything and very well might be wrong in some cases.
This way you can relieve any apprehension that might be there and start a conversation looking at the facts. This way we can avoid arguments.
Secondly, when you look at the facts ignore the urge to put pressure on the other person, especially when something agrees with your thought process.
Let the other person make his mind up on his own.
In light of facts, if it turns out you were wrong in certain cases, gracefully accept and improve.
Life is nuanced, what is right in some cases might not be right in others.
When you are open to it and accept where you are wrong, others see that and follow your lead because it is no longer an ego contest and instead, a search for the truth.
Thirdly the most important thing you can do is ask questions.
This is something that Socrates did when teaching his students.
When someone came to him with apprehension, he would start asking questions that were challenging to the underlying assumptions.
If there was a fallacy in their assumptions that Socrates knew, instead of abruptly stopping them in the middle and explaining the fallacy he would let the other person think for himself.
He did those in a polite and open-minded manner in which he was willing to accept the assumptions if the facts given by the person backed them up.
This way he could converse with anyone and avoid arguments.
This week take a moment to introspect how argumentative we have been until now and have we ever achieved anything because of them.
Maybe if we let go of our ego and come from a place of open-minded compassion we would have been much more successful in persuading the people we wanted to persuade.
In some cases, the people we wish to persuade have such a deep-rooted belief and it is impossible to give them a perspective otherwise.
When you start questioning people the way Socrates did, you will be able to tell these people apart easily.
In those cases, it is best to agree to disagree. No point in arguing anyway. You live your life the way you do and they can live their life the way they want to.
We urge you to live more consciously and explore what your callings are. Do you possess the courage to chase them?
We provide a free eBook called The perfect beginning that might help you in finding those callings.
I hope you have a good day and a good life.