Agree to Disagree; The Natural Language of Argument
Avoid or attack?
After years of casually partaking in the social media world of facebook, I was schooled recently. I learned that it is not a place to disagree. Yes, I realize the "dislike" button was removed from facebook long ago and now you can only "like" a status, but I just had a "friend" tell me not to comment on her status updates unless I agreed with what she posted. I suppose that's the confusing and contradictory element of the private, yet public environment on social media. Moving on...
So it made me realize, when is it OK to disagree? Is arguing constructive or destructive? Avoid or attack? Have we all gotten a little soft, apathetic, and complacent by letting things go or decidedly going along with the popular vote? Are some things worth fighting for and others better left alone? Bottle up or beat down? For the sake of argument, I want to explore the natural language of argument.
Why I "like" dislike...
When I attended college, facebook hadn't caught on like an obsessive wildfire (or ingrown toenail...depending on your view)- it was just invented the year before I graduated. I have fond memories of my college years because it was a time in my life when argument served me well. College is a time for questioning the norms and disagreeing, proving a point where facts weigh in heaviest, and LEARNING! Remember when we all had an open mind and the chance to argue our point was well received...and even encouraged. Debates, class speeches, and papers/essays were all arguing a point. And if you did it well, you got a good grade and a great class discussion going.
Argument is natural and if we're adults about it, it should be a chance to learn- two differing points should evolve into a discussion. While that time in my life is over, I have learned that argument (for the sake of understanding someone/something else or discussions in disagreement) is not well-received in the real world and not many people question anything anymore. I never learned anything from someone who agreed with me. I think that is such a shame that people accept this.
Argument 101: Battles and Boat-rocking
The first rule of arguing...Pick your battles. I'm all about not sweating the small stuff and when I pick my battle, watch out. It's a worthy cause. It's something worth raising my blood pressure for. I'm blessed with being a logical yet passionate person. I get my passion from my own motto; go big or go home and I have values I've had to stick up for since I was an 18 yr old high school virgin. I attained my logic possibly from methodically reviewing psychology experiments and applying objective and critical reasoning throughout every mundane detail. Which-direction-were-you-facing-when-you-ate-your-peanut-butter-sandwich kind of details. And yet it's not so much in the obvious, or inconspicuous, details as much as it is in the human thinking and reasoning errors.
Battles to pick:
- Arguments based on your values. If you don't stand for something, what do you stand for?
- Facing a bully. Most people ignore and therefore enable a bully, whereas we need more people to stand up to these types.
- It's just not OK, enough is enough, and you need to draw a line or set a boundary.
- When you're in a position of persuasion. It's usually not worth picking a battle with a close-minded person or someone who doesn't respect you anyway.
- If you can keep your cool. Never pick a battle if you're going to go over-the-top and get fierce. There is a way to argue while maintaining your point and position and not getting into the heat of the moment.
- When someone isn't getting the point after you've put it nicely. A little more forceful tone in your voice may be necessary sometimes.
- A worthy cause- somewhat like your values, but could be politics or religion or something you feel passionately about. Yes, I just said arguing politics is OK. I think we should be discussing and even arguing this topic because too many are complacent and apathetic toward the state of our country.
I'm a self-admitted boat-rocker. If I see it, I call it. However, I definitely don't start arguments or fights or even get in people's faces for no good reason at all. In fact, my school days were full of bad grades, but the teacher comments "A pleasure to have in class" and "gets along well with others" were abundant. But when it comes to boat-rocking, I do not shy away from it. I think there is a world of people enabling and appeasing bullying behavior and we are now reaping the consequences in our culture. It is easier to accommodate the loudest or meanest, but we shouldn't become a victim to do so.
I don't think we should get along for the sake of getting along if turmoil lurks beneath our skin but we put on a fake happy face while something is really bugging us. Some battles are not worth picking of course, but others that effect our daily lives and are a constant in our life...are usually worth it. There's a saying out there that goes something like this...you can call me an a**hole, but you're going to do it long-distance. If something isn't in-your-face or effects you that much on a daily basis, you can probably ignore it...long-distance.
Argument 102: Drama and Damage
A huge aspect of knowing when to pick your battles is thinking about the consequences before you pick the battle. Arguments that will likely cause drama and/or damage are rarely worth it- lost cause. Maybe time to walk away from that person altogether. I like this saying I heard- you can call me every name in the book but your'e going to do it long-distance. Don't be around toxic people and it's probably more unnecessary to argue with them as well. If you pick every battle, you will be labeled as a person hard to get along with and argumentative. Once this occurs, you can forget about having any constructive argument- people will not respect you from the moment you open your mouth.
If you argue to win, it isn't a reasonable argument. Arguments must be seen as a counterargument, proving a point, persuasion, or explaining, but not just for the sake of a win. You may think that proving your point has declared you the winner, but by the definition of argument, there is no declared winner. Most of the things we argue are not a right or wrong (unless you're standing up to a bully).
Family arguments and fights are by far the most hurtful. You know the buttons to push and you know the outcome is...I once heard some marital advice that you should not worry so much when the person is arguing with you, but you should worry more when they stop arguing with you because it means there is nothing left worth fighting for. An odd way of saying that argument shows you care, but in some cases...it does. How you argue and how you resolve things matters even more. Lesson learned- fighting fair is best for family situations. But I'll add, fighting fair isn't best for all situations.
The new face of argument; it's not so bad!
With the wide world of online media, argument has become commonplace. I began my hub with the story of a friend on facebook who did not tolerate disagreement/argument on her status updates, however, now more than ever people will ultimately come up against increasing disagreement and argument because of the Internet. Freedom of speech has a new meaning!
There are blogs, hubs, forums, social media, and online references where people are free to post a comment. The majority of commenters will disagree, sometimes slightly or about one aspect, or perhaps the entire piece/or idea. Yes, people will comment to agree, but the conversation ends there...nothing. When people agree, they are less likely to leave a comment at all. Nothing equals nothing- if we all agreed... a chain reaction of no innovation, no progress, no questioning the norm, no movement, would occur. Because of the Internet, we have a chance to learn more than ever and because of disagreement, we have additional opportunities on top of that.
"Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion"... Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Have you ever seen someone agree with passion or accomplish what they want without a hurdle or two? Or no passion? Perhaps argument? Passion is the essence of change, of innovation and sometimes requires a little fight.
Intolerance of difference
Could it be that within our politically correct society we have learned to not tolerate those who have different opinions and various beliefs? Let me make some sense of this for you. Recently I was in church, diligently listening to the message and the pastor was talking about intolerance and political correctness. He brought up the example of Christian groups who don't believe in gay marriage. This view of not believing in gay marriage is labeled as intolerance yet people who label this as intolerance are not being tolerant of that particular view.
Others' views may not coincide with ours or the norm or the politically correct view, but nonetheless, not accepting differing views is intolerance no matter how you dress it up.
Difference is merely something that sets us apart- you have your opinion and I have mine. Problem is, with certain issues such as abortion and gay marriage, it is merely an opinion. Nobody can really prove one idea is right or wrong so this may boil down to agreeing to disagree. Within certain fields or topics, one person may be more educated or knowledgeable therefore able to prove a point, back it with solid evidence and reasoning. You have to back up your point with evidence.
If you can't agree to disagree, proving your point requires:
- Strength in your evidence, and your use of it, can make or break your argument. I get as frustrated as the next person when I argue politics, but I aim to educate people and question their beliefs. So many people who get involved in politics form an opinion based on what they hear from friends, etc.
- Be consistent with your evidence.
- Give them an argument, not war. Don't throw out too many forms/types of argument, it will bombard the other person and more likely to offend.
- Anticipate and address counterarguments. Being prepared is always half the battle and it shows you have considered other points.
- Everyone has an agenda. You have learned to persuade others throughout your life, but each person is different and has their own agenda. Sometimes getting to root of their belief, is to understand the best way to argue your point with someone.
- Intolerance of Difference | Psychology Today
Define yourself by what you love, not what you hate By Karyl McBride, Ph.D....
Argue with style
I suppose you've heard about various argument styles that are more acceptable than others. Physical and personal attacks are usually a style of argument to steer clear of. However, in politics for example, the more negative the ads against the opponent, the better the outcome for the candidate issuing those ads. The more forceful and domineering in a debate, the better the outcome for the candidate. Not a very good example those politicians are setting for us. So what's new? Those guys go for the jugular because, in general, people vote against the person they like the least.
Other than those pesky politicians, arguing with attacks gets absolutely nowhere. If you want to start a bad argument, this is the way to do it, but it may lead to a physical fight. If you want to prove your point, this will only make your opponent hold onto their beliefs stronger. I admit I've used some personal attacks to get people's attention, but the argument simply goes around in circles...gets nowhere.
If you want to argue with style:
- Stick to the facts and evidence.
- Find common ground. If you can find similarities in yourself and your opponent or your conflicting points, there is possibly room for an agreement.
- Get your opponent to question their own argument or beliefs.
- Check your mood...and your ego. Does it seem like everyone is getting on your nerves today? Better not pick a fight because chances are, it's your mood and not anything that matters enough to argue. Your ego can also get in the way of an effective argument.
- Don't use common arguments- words and phrases that have been over-used for the topic or point you are arguing. We see this in politics and when people make general assertions, things we've heard a hundred times before to prove the same point.
- Be clear and concise.
- Don't bother arguing with kids.
- Decide whether you are persuading someone or explaining something. It helps to know the difference and goal in mind.
- Listen as much as you open your mouth. Consider the other position. It can happen that some arguments are unnecessary and the "opponents" agree with each other more than they realize but are wrapped up in the arguing itself.
- Know when to use passion or emotion versus logic. Certain types of people react better to emotional persuasion versus logical and vice verse.
- Stick to your point. Don't bring in other arguments or topics or even personal attacks.
- Swearing is tacky. It makes people look dumb and possibly out of words if they can't come up with anything better.
- Avoid pushing buttons if you're arguing with someone close to you or you value the relationship.
- Never get put on the defense. My dad was a lawyer if if I learned anything from his profession inadvertently, I learned you never want to get on the position of explaining yourself. Make the other guy explain himself. Keep in mind, this is a winning tactic. You may not have gotten anyone to change their mind necessarily, but you'll win a debate or two.
- You may have to agree to disagree and when the argument is over, make sure you let it go or look for a compromise.
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