Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

October 28, 2013

THE GOOD LIFE: Stop arguing

By Louise Gorenflo
Chronicle contributor

CROSSVILLE — Arguing achieves a predictable outcome: it solidifies each person's position. Of course, this is the exact opposite of what one intends to achieve with the argument in the first place. Arguing wastes time and deteriorates relationships. How likely is it that you will change your position in the middle of fighting for it? 

The difference between having a discussion and arguing lies within the intention. When people have a discussion, they remain open to the ideas of the other and have a genuine interest to learn more about the topic and about the other. Arguing people stake their ground and use the interaction to prove their power and to belittle the other.

Arguing has two outcomes. The first one is resentment because the person who gives in is not actually convinced of the others’ position. The second result is that the two arguers move farther and farther apart. The more each person insists they are right, the more this encourages the other to fight harder to be right and to resist being proven wrong. This is when people say and do things they later regret. There is certainly no winner here.

The only way to really win an argument is to not have it in the first place. It takes at least two people to have an argument. If need be, walk away. Walking away doesn’t mean that you’re weak or that the other person wins; it actually means you don’t want to feed a negative behavior. Cut ties if necessary. If you become aware that the people within your network spend their time together feeling superior and putting down others, run — don’t walk — to the nearest exit.

Facts, by themselves, are meaningless. We process the information we receive through our feelings and instincts, life circumstances and experiences. We turn raw meaningless data into our judgments and views and opinions. Often we cannot recognize the same fact viewed from another point of view. Be selective in the media you absorb. Pay attention to only what will help you stay informed without filling you with fear, ill-will and anxiety.

Find something constructive to do with what you know. If you only talk about what others should do without doing it yourself, you are wasting your life and other people’s time as well.

People who disagree do not have to argue or become enemies. Productive communication and healthy relationships are not about winning, controlling or bullying; they are about listening, connecting, respecting and understanding. And perhaps even learning.

When we take a stand that the caring we feel for the other person is more important than the win, we can rise above the temptation to jump into an argument. We refuse to argue because we care about the person and commit our energy and time to what will grow our relationship, even if that means walking away from them.

May you find what I have reported interesting and something you can use in your life. I invite you to email me your thoughts (lgorenflo@gmail.com).