Six Surefire Ways to Lose an Argument
Why can’t we all just get along? Oh, that’s right – because we’re human. Being individuals with our own unique attitudes, ideas, and opinions is generally a good thing. However, it can also be the breeding ground for conflict in relationships, whether that relationship is with a coworker, friend, or our partner.
With disagreements sometimes come arguments. The two are never far from each other. So what should you do, or more importantly not do, when those unavoidable disagreements turn into quarrels? Here are six surefire ways to make sure you lose the argument:
1. Yell At The Other Person. When we lose control of our volume, we’ve also lost control of our emotions. Let the argument become a screaming match, and you’ll completely lose focus on the issue at hand as you each attempt to out-yell each other. Keeping your voice at a moderate level volume, or even dropping it down a bit, can have a calming effect on a potentially escalating situation.
2. Change The Subject. Now is not the time to bring up every other beef you’ve ever had with this person. Stay focused on the issue at hand. If there are other legitimate issues that need to be resolved, save them for another time. For now, it’s important to be single-minded and work towards resolving the one dispute that triggered the argument.
3. Refuse to Accept Responsibility. Don’t blame the other person. It’s important to recognize your own potential contribution to the problem. Reflect on how your own actions may have added fuel to the conflict. Be willing to accept responsibility, and ask for forgiveness for your role in the issue. Playing the blame game doesn’t get us any closer to resolving conflict.
4. Bring Up Past Mistakes. Avoid reminding the other person of every past offense they’ve ever committed. Let them recover from their errors and feel assured that any forgiveness you’ve given in the past was completely genuine. Holding on to hurt and letting it become a grudge only hurts you in the end.
5. Launch Personal Attacks. When you focus on the other person’s character rather than the issue you’re disagreeing about, you’re disrespecting them, not disagreeing with them. Don’t attack who you think they are (lazy, incompetent, forgetful, selfish, etc.); instead, focus on their behavior. This keeps the argument on topic and prevents it from becoming personal.
6. Correct Their Grammar. When all else fails, it’s tempting to resort to something really petty. Avoid the temptation to point out their dangling participles or double negatives. When we resort to attacking trivial issues, it indicates we’ve totally lost our focus and self-control, and even worse it rings of desperation.
Disagreements in life are inevitable, but they don’t always have to lead to an argument or conflict. However, when they do, avoiding these six surefire ways to lose an argument can lead to greater success in your conflict resolution attempts. In the end, our goal shouldn’t be to win the argument, but rather to find a mutually agreeable resolution for all parties involved. Here’s to more successful conflict (disagreement) resolution for us all.
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Author: Dr. Kurt Smith
Dr. Kurt Smith is the Clinical Director of Guy Stuff Counseling & Coaching, a Northern California counseling practice that specializes in helping men and the women who love them. His expertise is in understanding men, their partners, and the unique relationship challenges couples face today. Dr. Kurt is a lover of dogs, sarcasm, everything outdoors, and helping those seeking to make their relationships better.