How to handle Arguments
In this blog we shall take a look at how to create a strategy to effectively make the best out of arguments which you are sometimes forced into.
Now here’s the thing about arguments.
It does not matter whether you win or you lose, it usually leaves a bad taste.
Unless you are a psychopath that is…….
You know why?
The dynamics of an adult argument go like this:
For a brief moment in time you might think:
“I have taught him a worthy lesson. One which he will not forget easily”.
But you are not talking to a wall. There is another human being on the other side who would equally like to defend his logic.
So the other person now retaliates, and then he is happy for that brief moment.
It is his turn to think:
“Oh I gave him a piece of my mind!! Let him ponder on that.”
And the cycle continues.
I think somewhere at the back of our minds we expect that mysteriously the other person will realize his mistake and honestly apologize to us. After all our logic is SO profound!! He has to succumb to it!! When that does not happen we get upset and try harder with each attempt higher than the one before to WIN!!
We do that, our political leaders do that, Nations do that!!
Well, come to think of it that is quite a selfish way of thinking, and it is also hilariously absurd!!!
You have your belief system etched into yourself. So does the other person.
It is in our nature to become defensive when struck by an external force. Nations have united in defence against a common enemy. We are not only defending our beliefs in our arguments, we are also, and more strongly, defending our pride!
Every Villain is a hero in himself
I know an actor who refused to act villain-like, even when he was cast in negative roles.
When he came on screen people used to be mesmerized by his presence, to such an extent that the protagonist used to be overshadowed by his dynamism. He was famous for changing the scripts to often include such dialogues which no scriptwriter could have thought of. They were strong, bold statements, which actually made a lot of sense.
One day his director called him aside and said: “Hey, you are making extremely logical arguments though your dialogues!! My hero is looking weak in front of you!!”
What he said was extremely profound. He said: “No Sir. I am the villain. But in real life every villain thinks he is the hero! Everyone has their strong belief system, which they stand by. So does my character!! If you want to make your hero look good, make him stronger than me in the movie, do not try to make me weak!!”
He could be cast by only the strongest of directors. Those who had full knowledge of his free spirit. His movies reached heights of creativity to create few of the best characters on silver screen.
For every belief that you have there is someone who has an opposite belief twice as strong as yours.
You cannot make a villain think he is wrong just by saying so.
This is a simple but important concept to understand in order to tackle an argument.
What not to do
Let’s say you ask a terrorist to stop terrorizing.
You ask him to understand how love should win over hatred and that no fight could ever end up in peace.
To you, you might have made a very logical statement which he must now realise.
To him, you are funny. Why?
Simply because you could not say anything which he could relate to. It’s the same with an angry person. He does not relate to logic, at least not to the logic you will put up.
Do not try explaining logic to a person when he is heated up no matter how well defined it is. More often than not, you would be thrown off.
If he understands logic, that is called a discussion.
Resolution of Arguments
How nice it would be if I could give you ten ways to never ever have an argument with anyone!
That could probably win me the Noble peace prize!!
But unfortunately if you are anyone doing anything other than staying at home alone, it is likely that at certain times in your life you will get into a heated argument.
Here are your ten commandments to remember and follow when in such an argument. The thing about this though – you do not have to remember them if you get the sense behind it. Just get into the right mindset and such situations will be easy for you to handle.
For the purpose of these statements by the word “argument” I have considered that both of you are equal. Most of these may not be applicable if you are being thrashed by your boss. 🙂
Please read my guest blog: How to work under a Angry Boss for that.
Though the character below is referred to as a ‘he’ this equally works for ‘she’ as well. Please replace as required.
- Try not to lose your temper: You will control the situation only if you don’t lose control over yourself. How to do this, you ask?
The classic slow ten-to-one count does work, but it is far easier to control your temper if you actually listen to the other person like he is talking sense. His voice may be high pitched or loud, but listen to the content of his argument. Try to justify it, like you agree. This is not as difficult as it sounds.
There is one problem though, where most of us get stuck. If you get past that the rest is cakewalk.
Try not taking it personally, even if the remarks are personal. Try being the sensible one here. What he says in the heat of the moment does not matter. Most of the time it is not what he thinks. His reactions are over exaggerated to make his statement sound bold. He wants to WIN.
It is not about you, what he states is really about him. Our biggest challenge is that when the person in front becomes confrontational our primitive brain takes over. Instead of listening we start building counter arguments in our minds which has starts a chain reaction thus building up the heat inside us.
Stay cool and see the magic unfold.
Now comes the easy part.
If the other person has lost his temper, very soon he will say something or the other which will not make sense. If you listen to him attentively it will cool you down because you will see how easily you can break him logically. But that’s not what you want to really do.
Try listening to the other person next time. Tell me what happened!!
- Look at the person directly when he or she is speaking. Look at him confidently but not with an angry or confrontational look. If you are not sure, look down at your feet for about 3 to 5 seconds, take a deep breath and then look up at him with confidence and composure.
Your calm look has a calming effect, even though he may not realise it.
- Do not speak when he is talking. Let him finish. Wait for the pause.
- Do not say anything during the first pause. Let him take a break. Let him relax. Whatever you say can make him further defensive and argumentative. It is possible that he has personally insulted you several times. There will be the right time to answer that. Now is not that time.
- If he really has nothing to say, you speak. If you are cool by this time you have gathered enough material to explain your views logically. DO NOT TRY THAT.
Right now, your logic is logical only to you!!!
- Your voice needs to be calm and composed, much like your look. It must not be trying to match the other person’s loudness or shrill. Tell him that you will talk at a later time when you CAN talk. Tell him that you think this is not a good time.
- A soft touch on the upper arm can do a lot to end this animosity. This is one of the most classic gestures of love. A genuine feel of love can melt away hatred like a miracle. A hug would be equally helpful, if you are close enough to the other person. Try it. Often love can cure most problems seamlessly without the need for logic.
- If you are drawn into the argument and cannot find a way to leave, your statements need to be firm and understanding such as: “Why do you think so?” or “Maybe you are right; we will talk about it later”. Once again in a low tone. Make a conscious effort to be soft and calm. Remember you are the sensible one here.
- Try and be the bigger person. Pour him a glass of water After all, he is in a much greater pain and exertion than you, if he is exerting himself to talk to you so hard. Arguments really are exhausting.
- Now once again and most importantly: Do not try to explain anything logically. Let it go at the time. Leave the place and come back later. Most of the time any logic you try to infuse will backfire and increase the heat. If you need to get the matter settled right there, be soft spoken and firm. We will talk about that again at a later date.
Not getting heated up in an argument is one of the most difficult things to do and it will reap its benefits all your life, whether it be your spouse or your colleague or that random office cashier. The inherent assumption is that you are the bigger person here, and can remain composed even when it is difficult to do so.
That is how winners think.
What is the concept behind all this?
Mahatma Gandhi advocated a principle which at the time seemed the weirdest of all concepts. He said – if a person slaps on your face, lend him the other cheek. And the violence will stop.
The world watched as this concept ended 300 years of British tyranny in India. It seems we can use it in our daily life too, to avoid arguments, and bitter relationships.
It seems that human beings are primitively accustomed to expect confrontation when enraged. Just like a cave man expecting a good fight. Confrontation from the other end makes him more confident. If you face rage with composure, it really perplexes people.
It more often than not dissolves most arguments. Try it out next time and tell me in your comments below.
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