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Agree to Disagree; The Natural Language of Argument

Updated on November 17, 2012
It starts when we're young
It starts when we're young

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.

facebook "dislike" button
facebook "dislike" button

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.

Stormy seas
Stormy seas

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 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 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.

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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    • mothersofnations profile image

      Mothers of Nations 

      6 years ago

      Very insightful article! Good read :) Voted up! God bless you*

    • izettl profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Thanks Mathira! Yes, I agree with you on that.

      LauraDo93~ Facebook is nothing like hubpages where conversation and opinions are encouraged, at least on my end. I learned my lesson on facebook. Keep it light and fluffy. thanks for stopping by.

    • LauraD093 profile image

      Laura Tykarski 

      8 years ago from Pittsburgh PA

      Good hub...Facebookland (although I did build a house there) isn't known for intellectual debate or airing dirty laundry sometimes the air gets pretty nasty.I liked what DDE said as well within the family or close friends sometimes it better to keep your opinions to yourself. Respect the belief as long as it doesn't impact you ..and move on.

    • mathira profile image


      8 years ago from chennai

      Good hub. Arguments are OK when it is mild, but when harsh words fly forth, it becomes a bitter fight and it destroys any relationship. Made good and interesting reading izetti.

    • izettl profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from The Great Northwest

      DDE~ very good point. Everyone has a different relationship with various people.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      8 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Sometimes certain things are best not mentioned or discussed with family and friends. Voted up!

    • izettl profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from The Great Northwest

      mts1098~ well dang I guess I can't disagree with you agreeing with me. Thanks for the comment!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Well I will say this...rocking the boat sometimes is a good thing and I agree that facts should fuel the argument and not to argue with kids...Great job...are we related? Cheers

    • izettl profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Thanks so much Sooner28!

      LauraD~ Thanks for stopping by. Well people should just post their facebook rules because if there is no personal attacks or harrassment I am all for a little interesting debate on any of my posts. However, on facebook, I don't get too personal. Funny thing is this "friend" later posted that she loved drama on facebook. Interesting when she posted she wanted no disagreeing on hers, but enjoyed it on others. Anyway, I'll excuse it because she is only 17 and a friend's daughter.

      In general, I do not take it personally if you don't agree with me. I have respect for people who let me debate with them sensibly and who want to learn from me as I can learn from them. Every good debater must know both sides.

    • LauraD093 profile image

      Laura Tykarski 

      8 years ago from Pittsburgh PA

      loved this...I have had my own er "encounters" using social mediums such as Facebook as well...but that's fine if you can support your argument sensibly even if I don't agree with your view-point it is still your your right to post it I'll usually ignore those posts that make me see red but must admit a good debate not internet argument nor harassment can be stimulating at times.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Great advice!

    • izettl profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from The Great Northwest

      ElSeductor~ Oh I don't think they know they're wrong, but people can lie to themselves and believe the words coming out of their mouth. But yes some people probably just like to argue. I've probably been guilty of probing into something just to get people to question themselves. I've done this to tes tt osee how sure people are about their perspective or point.

      kj force~ love your humor and your style. In fact I want to be you when I grow up (smile). Hope you had a great turkey day. Yes I am thankful and try to live it everyday.

    • izettl profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Jim~ yes, we're good at what we do (smile) and Bob is good at what he does. Bob is very smart, but sometimes those smart people can miss things. I tend ot be an overthinkier and can miss some obvious things because I'm looking into detail too much.

      I've done the same as you in being unpopular yet popular. I would refer to it as being "real". Some people here have never come across anyone who disagrees or would dare disagree with them- I've met them on hubpages (and fb) and that's not being real. they live in their own world...good for them...moving on now. I like the respectful people who disagree- like FIS Bob- I tend to learn from them.

      Thanks for the support Bro!

    • Escobana profile image


      8 years ago from Valencia

      Interesting Hub and very detailed! I'm more aware of my ego and mood from now on, whenever I want to debate something.

      Especially my parents and brother can be the worst people to discuss something with. Anything small can be blown out of proportion. Their goal is to win and I see that's not at all what arguing should be about.

      I like all the tips at the end of your Hub and I guess some topics like abortion and gay marriage, have got more to do with education and cultural influences than the mere fact of having an opinion about it.

      I was raised in Holland, by my Christian adoptive parents who support gay marriage and abortion all the way. I do too and I have a lot of gay friends as well.

      Nowadays it's more common to hear, Moslim gays in Holland undergo a lot of pressure due to their religious believes.

      I can only be very grateful to the fact that I was brought up with a very open minded way of thinking, I can respectfully disagree with many people and I like your advice about not picking a fight with someone who's close minded.

      Great Hub, Up, Awesome and shared!

    • kj force profile image


      8 years ago from Florida

      iIzzettl....LOVED your write..OMG. I know of what you speak. It is a different world today and I no longer converse as I used to ( retired) I love a good toe to toe/verbal sparring as I call it..but alas, no more. It's almost impossible to speak: politics.religion..views on children..etc..there's an auto-argument just waiting to when I feel the heat turn up, my words now are " not too many clouds in the sky, love your shoes, what colour is that nail polish and Wow that colour sure makes you look younger "'d be surprised at the " deer in headlights" look it creates...I like your style, will check out other writes...Happy Turkey Day

    • TheManWithNoPants profile image


      8 years ago from Tucson, Az.

      Naaaaa ... this was all wrong. All of it. (jus kidding) No, you made a ton of good points here. Makes me think ... First, let's take Bob up there in the comments. (FIS) I consider him to be my friend. I've said he makes smarter. I very rarely agree with him, and he very rarely ... okay - NEVER agrees with me. Since I'm never wrong and Bob is a smart dude, it can only be concluded that he PRETENDS to disagree with me for the purpose of making me take a stronger look at my take, allowing me fill in any holes. Watch... He'll be along to disagree with me on this. :)

      A lot of what irritates me about Face Book and The Hub Pages and the like is it seems to be built around a popularity contest. I write mostly political material, and I've managed to become fairly popular by being un-popular. As you know, I'm not interested in "preaching to the choir." I like to make people think, so I sometimes accuse my readers of being weak and call them names. I think they know I do it because I love em ... because I do. Let me say,at this point, that I'm in no way trying to pick up another follower or two with all this self promotion. You know me better than that. Now where was I?

      They call it "Social Media". You ever look at those Forums? Dude, that looks more like the anti- social media, doesn't it?? You go in there more than twice and your personality takes a bad turn! Sucks! And people live in the damn things. I don't know if they bother eating, taking a bath, or even coming up for air.

      "If you want to argue in style" Sis, I have no style. I break almost every one of those rules I think. Before I even write a piece, I check my testosterone levels to make sure they're high enough. Then, since I'm never wrong, I assume that anyone who disagrees with me is launching a personal attack, and I give them a public execution. (except Fis) After reading this, I may have to take a second look at how I handle this stuff. Naaaa ...

      Excellent work sis!

      ~ jim

    • izettl profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from The Great Northwest

      gmwilliams~ You added in some great points too. I think arguments as you've stated on target, can be both beneficial and detrimental. When I think of all the things I've learned arguing my point and sometimes even finding myself agreeing with the other person on something I just learned, then I think what a shame it would have been had I never ruffled some feathers.

    • izettl profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from The Great Northwest

      drbj~ thanks. love when I see you aaround here. Bullying is certainly a prominent problem today. That's why I say if you have to disagree or be obstinate, use that power for standing up to the bullies.

      BTR90~ Agreed. some of these extreme groups like feminism are stuck in their world which doesn't resemble reality.

      FIS~ yes, I've learned so much on this topic after two years ago getting more involved in politics and religion. the atmosphere is crucial as well. Many people in college are a little more open-minded. I find many people here on hubpages to fairly open-minded too...and a lot of agreeing to disagree. Problem with politics and religion is they are rooted in the personal- there aren't many facts involved on either subject so people bring in the personal. That's when I like to add common sense or deductive reasoning. Example: God has never been disproven so in my mind nobody can say he absolutely doesn' exist.

      Arguments I htikn ARE valuable. I've learned a lot when prying someone into discussing somehting even after it's getting a little heated. Only when people are pushed does all the good stuff come out- you really get a sense of someone and their beliefs. But no, you probably shouldn't do this all the time with everyone. I love a good discussion (or argument) on hubpages.

      Breakfastpop~ this is very true. I don't mind doing it with complete strangers here on hubpages though.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      8 years ago from south Florida

      You made an excellent point, among others, Laura, with your suggestion that with so many people enabling and appeasing bullying in our present culture, we may now be reaping the consequences. Big time.

      Love your tips for arguing ... with style.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I've noticed one thing with feminists they follow not only the majority rules despite being some what ignorant to the reality of things but also justify their actions through an ethically laxed method of doing what their feelings tell them

    • FIS profile image


      8 years ago from Buffalo, New York

      One thing I've learned over the years... for an argument not to turn into a fight... one or both of the sides have to be open to the possibility that they may be wrong. Without that... a fight is all but inevitable. Fights are not particularly valuable. Although... on some occasions... an argument where neither side will ever admit that they are wrong can be useful for bringing ill defined ideas into sharper definition. Sometimes this is worth the risk of a fight.

    • FIS profile image


      8 years ago from Buffalo, New York

      A Monty Python sketch called Argument Clinic

    • breakfastpop profile image


      8 years ago

      The old advice still holds ttue. Never discuss politics or religion with family and friends or you may find yourself very much alone!

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 

      8 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      This is an excellent hub,izetti. Arguments can be both beneficial and detrimental. The benefits of argument is to strengthen one's resolve, know what he/she stands for, and to consider the other side of the discussion. Arguments also helps one develop social and/or interaction skills which are important in the business and other social environments. The detriments of arguments is that it can escalate into a tirade of verbal banter, even bordering on abuse. The mature person knows how to effectively work an argument while the immature oftentimes views an argument as just quagmire! Great hub, voted UP!


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