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How to argue. And be a winner even when you lose.

Last post 03-17-2005, 3:20 by icelava. 0 replies.
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  •  03-17-2005, 3:20 937

    How to argue. And be a winner even when you lose.

    Humans are emotional creatures. Period.

    And emotions, unfortunately, carries a great deal of illogic. Especially the negative ones. They are truly a tremendous blinding force, preventing one from perceiving issues in a controlled logical manner. Whenever emotions are stirred up and rife during a discussion in disagreement, you can almost bet your life savings on the outcome: a losing battle for both sides who refuse to agree, going all out to strike the foe down brutally no matter the cost (as far as illustrating all the wrong points and contradicting oneself).

    Many, many years back I have already recognised this incredible human flaw. The thousands upon thousands of arguments, or more appropriately, quarrels, I witnessed with amazement all around me. Do they even realise what they are arguing about??? Bewildering headshaking experience.

    I have vowed never to be yet another crazy bickering engine, and gave it constant contemplation, readjusting and refining my own composure and attitude on this matter. I want to become a person who can maintain calm composure, forever at peace and untouchable by the emotions that so plague the commoners. I have not perfected this yet, but I am confident I am steps ahead of the majority. Below are some pointers to the approach I take to achieving this zen:
    1. Throw your pride/ego out of the window.
      This is probably the most important step. The primary driver to heated arguments usually concerns pride. When one's ego is being attacked, all defenses are brought to bear on full alert. Pride is possibly an important human attribute - it allows one to find self-worth and confidence to live in the world. But in my assessment I find it more damaging in general than the good it does, so I seek to discard its external exhibitives from my behaviour.

      When I exclude pride out of the equation, I reduce a significant area where I can be attacked, and thus vulnerable. I cannot be put into a situation of humility, shame, or embarassment. Conversely, I cannot be exalted or glorified. It works both ways.

      This is actually a huge digressive matter in itself and I will stop here to keep this article in scope.
    2. Focus on the technical issue, not the person.
      Pinpoint the item of disagreement, and hone in on that. Only. A trait of an argument gone wrong is the lambasting with irrelevant points, brought in purely for the sake of ammunition against opponent. The original point lost in the smoldering smoke.

      Lay down an agenda and agree what is to be discussed. Commit not to stray away from that issue unless highly relevant. I have seen way too many gone planets off course.

      Even if the issue is actually that of a person and his behaviour, that can still be focused on technically. Approach it in a structured pointed manner to give it a logical "flavour".
    3. Compartmentalise.
      Always remember - disagreeing on one matter does not mean you have to disagree with the other party in all other matters. That is plain absurd. Agree there is unresolved disagreement in one area, and make known other matters will be uninfluenced by this. This is very important; you can easily spot people who hold grudges for the pettiest of issues.

      This requires you to be impartial and just - stand up and support your old "enemy" when he makes a stand on a matter that you share similar views.
    4. Calculate worth.
      There's this saying, "In judging others, people will work overtime for no pay."

      Do not fall into this trap. Many disagreements are petty issues. Your time and energy are better spent in other productive or fun matters. If you (or the other party) are not gonna gain anything advantageous or beneficial from it, know when to disengage. Others are free to maintain their opinions and make their own decisions; let them meet their own tragedy and experience their own self-inflicted pain if they so choose. Many people tend to like learning lessons first hand.
    5. Present evidence.
      Do not hurl blatant insults. By doing so, you prove you are emotionally charged and empty on substance at the same time. It is like loading firing blank rounds into a gun, firing loudly, and never hitting the target. You have nothing of value to present and support your point(s) and are trying to cover up with big bold words. That is really going to ensure your credibility equals the Titanic.

      Ask yourself this question, "If I said this in court, will the judge accept it?"
    6. Drink tea (or coffee if you prefer).
      The Internet is a fantastic infrastructure that has allowed the world to communicate in tremendously more efficient and effective manners. Make no doubt about it, the Internet has nurtured my written communication skills. But there is one big problem - textual communication places a wall between communicators - you cannot look the person in the eye, you cannot hear the tone of the expression. I suppose we need a highly elaborate smiley protocol to communicate our true emotions across.

      This lack of expressives has a high tendency for receipients of a message to interpret it as hostile and provocative more than anything else. Coupled with the fact that I don't engage the dimension of pride into my correspondence, I tend to anger other parties since they do continue to include so. Many times I have to paint this picture to communicate my state of mind:

      Out in the garden. Sitting by the small round table. Clear blue sky, with small fluffy clouds being caressed and pushed along by the cool breeze. The birds chirp away in symphony, delighting in the brilliant splendor of the sun. Bringing the cup of hot tea to my nose, indulging in its rich aroma, and slowly sipping and savouring the richness of the leaves. I lazily lay back and read the romance novel in absolute comfort and calm.

      Note: I do not read romance novels in reality. It's just to spice the picture.

      It is with such tranquility that I type, and would do so verbally if in person. Once people capture this idea, they have less trouble arguing with me (provided they possess a adequate level of composure themselves).

    I hope and pray people grow beyond their emotions and lift themselves up, that they may gain awareness of how blinded they can become. My wish is for people to attain peace within themselves and not let their emotions seize hostage of their hearts like the Incredible Hulk.

    My approach has left me pretty much stripped of emotions many times, since I have learnt to "calm down". The by-product of that is some people commenting my disposition as "cold". Well, sure beats being labelled as a "hothead". Stick out tongue
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