How To Benefit From Every Argument That You Are In
What is an Argument?
A tomato is a vegetable. Some people will also say that a tomato is a fruit. Without even going into the pronunciation of the word tomato, we have started an argument.
An argument is a conflict of ideas, on a similar subject, where each individual involved attempts to make the other party(s) believe in their view.
Arguments can start as simple as a disagreement about what something is, or how it is pronounced, as seen above. There is a possibility that these conflicts of ideas can escalate into a full blown fight, no matter how insignificant the topic may seem.
Understanding the Nature of Conflict.
Conflict of ideas on similar subjects is what leads to arguments. it would be nice if these never escalated past the debate phase into the argument group, and then further into the fight category, but it is unavoidable.
The example above is about a minor debatable subject with no clear winner. if a debate turns into an argument, there is a good chance that neither party will conform to the others view. This means both individuals got upset enough to escalate the debate and are now both on the defensive. Even if one of those people changes their view, they may be too stubborn to admit it and just keep arguing their point anyway.
No one wins in an argument or fight. Most of the time both people get worked up and angry at each other and still end up not making any progress toward convincing the opponent of their view.
if either party admits they are wrong no one will win still. The loser will feel angry, humiliated, and resentful because they lost (even if they do not show it). The winner will feel bad for humiliating the loser and possibly embarrassed if the subject is considered not worthy of an argument in the first place by others.
The ultimate outcome for you and your opponent is higher blood pressure, faster heart rate, and ultimately a feeling of anger and resentment toward the other person.
Benefits of Avoiding Arguments.
The bigger person walks away, no matter how rediculous this may sound, it is true. A person who does this signifies that they have learned enough to know when a argument's outcome is not worth the outcome of their own feelings. This is not to say the person will never argue, but it is to say they will usually not argue about things that are petty.
However if you must argue with someone about something try to make it something important to you that you are knowledgeable about. Issues such as politics may be worth it in your opinion especially if the other party made a ignorent statement such as "our current president is awesome(or garbage)". If your view differs and you feel strongly about it, by all means call the individual out, but do it nicely.
"Now why is that?" Would be the approach taken to not sound offensive, or jumping blindly into an argument without seeing their facts.
If they say something like "They just are!" well you learned this argument is not worth it because they have no facts, just an opinion, and you will never convince them otherwise since they are tenacious and arrogant enough to have formed an opinion with reasoning or facts.
Now on the other hand if they explain their facts, or at least give a short reason, it wil be your call if it's time to debate and hopefully not argue.
Keeping a Debate Friendly
I like the book line by Dale Carnegie : How to Win Friends and Influence People. Many of the fundamentals I talk about here are explained in more detail in this book. The author goes on about other useful information, but the main focus revolves around avoiding conflicts since they will not benefit an individual in the short term and especially be harmful in the long term. Everyone has made the mistake and lost a potential friend, or worse, good friend, from a disagreement gone wrong.
To make sure your friendly debate stays that way you must keep an open mind. This entails agreeing on some foothold no matter how small it is. If in the tomato argument you say something like "yes fruits do have seeds in them and so do tomatoes" you are slightly agreeing that a tomato is a fruit. This keeps it friendly and the favor is often returned when you turn around and say "but fruits grow from trees, and a tomato grows from the ground". Hopefully the response will be that you are right in your statement, and than followed by another reason why their standpoint is correct and yours is not and so on.
Keeping an open mind in this fashion will allow you to possibly learn some things you did not know before. If a person is opinionated enough to start a lot of debates and keep it friendly they will learn more about subjects. This is one of the only benefits, but it is a very effective way to learn. You always learn more from a failure rather than a win, and you still learn a new objection to your opinion when on the winning side (Usually).
Picking Your Battles is Key.
Now if at any-point the person starts to act irrational in our example above, or ends up defying a fact, you should give up since they are now refusing to listen to reason. An example would be if they started to ague that tomatoes grow from trees also (as in brown barked trees and not just mistaking the green plant in the ground as a small tree).
This signifies a lost cause debate/argument. You will never win if an opponent is sticking to their guns tightly but they can not back up their statements with facts, and refuses to accept any argument that is backed up by facts. You may as well talk to a wall because that would be more beneficial than standing there arguing and raising your frustration levels even more.
On a final note remember that in an argument there is no moderator like on a debate team, so things can escalate out of hand. It will be up to you to decide if the person you have chosen to debate with will keep it friendly and not escalate the matter into an argument because they feel they are losing.
If you choose to debate only when you know it will not escalate into something more that you can not win, than you have learned and therefore benefited from the debate. If you walk away before it starts and swallow your pride and knowledge that your right, than you have learned to pick your battles better. Finally if you have a genuine debate that is friendly and ends on good standings, you have learned the most and can consider youself matured.