The Art of Argument

So it´s 2015 and we all have smartphones. We all have Google and know how to research basic information. Having said that, you would think there would no longer be any arguments or at least the quality of arguments would improve. But no. Arguing is part of human nature and more of often that not arguments are character related as opposed to the subject at hand. An argument is defined to be a series of statements typically used to persuade. Arguments can sometimes be necessary in order to achieve a common objective. But a lot of times we go about arguments the wrong way as the point usually gets lost in translation. Arguing is an art and just like every art form there are specific rules and guidelines that must be followed. Here are my top 5 rules that I believe should be followed.

Learn to listen

The human brains is naturally stubborn. Since childhood we have a hard time listening or focusing on what people say to us. We have a harder time listening if what the other person is saying does not pair with our structure of thought. The older we get the more we think we know and thus our stubbornness surges. We judge people based on age or appearance and automatically think, “There is no way this person has a valid point to make.” Where I come from this has always been a common behavior flaw. I would go as far as to say in most third world countries, in my experience, older people struggle to give younger ones a chance to make their points. It is a cultural thing, as younger minds are deemed unfit or unqualified by default. There is also a matter of respect. It is regarded highly disrespectful for an older gentleman to be proved wrong by a younger and supposedly immature adversary.

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Regardless of race, age, role or any other superficial form, in any given argument both parties need to hear out one another. Sometime people are so focused on thinking of their own response instead of listening to the opposing view. Some people enjoy the sound of their own voice and would rather hear their own opinion as oppose to yours which may be very valid. As silly or as uninformed opinions may sound there is a gentleman´s conduct that must be held up in any meaningful argument and this conduct begins by showing respect through listening and processing.

Stick to the issue

Have you ever had an argument with someone and you start thinking to yourself “what does this statement have to do with anything?” Often times people lose focus on the argument at hand and start wheeling in other irrelevant factors. I find this usually happens when an opposition is more focused on winning the argument more than anything else. While it should be a goal to mostly learn something new from any given argument, people sometimes feel challenged or attacked. They will usually respond harshly by throwing a metaphoric “low blow” in which they will either insult you or sometimes physically attack you. You have probably heard the expression “that escalated quickly,” which refers to a situation unexpectedly getting out of hand. When arguing about a particular subject both parties need to first agree to stay within the confines of this matter, otherwise it just becomes a duel where argument becomes completely futile and insecurities arise. It becomes personal.

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Don’t be overconfident

Be humble. Even if you are 110% sure that you are right stay calm and realize its not the end of the world if you don’t convince your adversary. There are two reasons I think people shouldn’t gloat when they believe they are right. First, it’s not a nice thing to do. Humiliation or worthlessness should never be felt at the conclusion of an argument. Second, there is always a chance, no matter how right you may think you are, you may actually be wrong. It ends up looking really bad when you are overconfident and resort to laughing at the opposing view, only to later find out that you were wrong all along.

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Admit defeat

This is probably the hardest thing to do at the end of an argument. There are only three ways arguments should potentially end. You can agree to disagree, you can disagree or you can both agree. Although these three scenarios appear graceful in theory, it is not usually the case. People generally don’t like negative associations. Losing an argument over the use of incorrect or irrelevant information can be unfavorable. In fact, the term losing by itself possesses negative overtones. At the realization of defeat people rarely accept it tastefully and shake hands like you would see chess players do. Instead, people tend to either lash out or blame their predicament on superficial circumstances. If you come to the realization that you have been proven wrong in an argument, accept the defeat like a gentleman and move on. Also, be noble understand when an apology may be necessary.

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Stay in control

There is a particular moment in every general disagreement that does not bode well with your sense of calmness. If you pay close attention you can sense a change in your body. Your heartbeat speeds up, your body temperature rises and you have a heightened sense of your environment. This typically happens when your body is in distress as you sense an immediate danger. This can sometimes be felt when there is a change of tone when talking with another person. Sometimes you can feel it when they insult you or say something you wouldn’t expect them to say. Sometimes you feel it when they simply and politely disagree with you. At a heightened sense of emotions thinking becomes obscure and reactions even more so. Most people don’t act rationally when they feel attacked. It is therefor important to identify this switch in sensation in order to remain calm and composed. The minute you give in to the distressful rush you start to react unwillingly and you find yourself speaking without thinking. It’s nothing but downhill from there.

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It takes a particular mindset to argue effectively. In this post I only explore general habits of arguing that people find themselves falling victim to on a daily basis. Truth is there are many other sorts of arguments that touch on different areas   For example arguing with your spouse over marital affairs will be completely different to arguing with your friend on whether or not a tomato is a fruit. I myself rarely see the point of arguing and would much rather have healthy discussions where I seek to gain insight. I don’t really feel the need to prove people wrong as it is inherently in my nature to relate to people. Its funny because where I come from arguing is a general pastime. It is not uncommon for politicians from my country to resort to physical violence in the middle of congressional debates. While the videos of such passionate aggression make me laugh it is also inversely sad to see how far some people will go to get their points across. This need is part of a deep malfunction in the human mind that potentially gives awakening to incessant wars. Being right is ultimately not that important. In the larger scale of things, being understanding or accepting is far more honorable.

Thanks for reading 😊

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