Friday, November 11, 2016

Rules for arguing

Pondering... are there "rules of engagement" for arguing. Arguing is something I see as a failure to communicate coming to a head... How does one make arguing a positive venture, were communication actually happens instead of it becoming a contest on who can yell the loudest or get in the most hurtful jibes.

So, as I ponder, I must have some context. Politicians argue and get paid for it. Philosophers argue because that is the joy that binds them. I am glad I am not a philosopher! Scientists argue to seek truth and knowledge. I guess for this brief excursus I will focus on the type of arguments that have the potential to break hearts, homes and relationships... the most deadly of arguments...

If there are no such rules for such arguments then here are mine. If there are, then I like mine better! (I may need to ponder arrogance at some point but not today <insert favorite smiley icon here>)

Since "rules" (and I hate rules) are generally bulleted here is my list of "rules" in no particular order.

  1. First and foremost if you are going to argue, do so with a purpose. What should that purpose be? It is not to win. Really? Yes, really. Then why am I arguing? Good question. Winning an argument means that there is a loser.  I submit that the purpose of an argument is to communicate. I would also submit that that communications is a two way street that involves listening as much, if not more than, expressing your own thoughts.
  2. Respect the person you are arguing with. This can be hard when you are angry. Still if you want to actually be heard you must be willing to listen. In the context of this list you are arguing with someone you love. That person has a mind of their own. They are not mental clones of yourself. Them being themselves is why you fell in love with them in the first place. Show respect as you disagree with each other. Recognize that that they feel the way they do because of who they are and that you love them. Never disrespect them as a person and never disrespect their feelings.
  3. No sharp objects. If you have been together any significant amount of time you know precisely how to cut the heart out of the other person and leave them emotionally gasping. If you ever use that scalpel in an argument you will lose the trust that they have for you. They will close themselves off from you to protect themselves. You may successfully end an argument with this but you will have done so at a cost you may not be happy to pay.
  4. Never with an audience. Disagreement is natural but bystanders can only see the fight. If kids are around they simply do not understand and adults fighting frighten them, giving them a feeling of insecurity. If you grew up in a house full of fighting you know what I mean. By publicly arguing you draw nothing but contempt from adults. You emotionally scar children and that is a sin of the utmost degree.
  5. If you are married, you most likely promised to honor each other. If you are not married then honor is an unspoken expectation. What is honor? We know how it applies to Klingons, which is a personal honor. But what is it to give honor to the one we love but disagree with. I would say that it is to only show them in a positive light. Never take your argument into your community of friends with the purpose of shaming them. Never seek to establish sides. As far as the world around you knows, the person you are fighting with is perfect.
  6. Never use love as a bargaining chip. The phrase that begins with: "If you love me..." is not only unfair, it is destructive. You are basically saying that they have to choose between loving you and disagreeing with you. It is a dangerous game to place them in that position. It may work a few times but eventually they will choose their argument over their love and you will both lose.
  7. Keep the argument room temperature. The more heated an argument gets the less likely that a positive outcome will occur. The temperature of an argument is measured by how much one is forcing their feelings on the other through a play for power. At some point that heat causes an explosion that erupts in neither side winning and both sides being devastated. That is not a positive end to an argument.
  8. Do not bring up the past in an effort to justify the present. If one has made a mistake in the past, regardless of size, it is not fair game in an argument today. Keep the argument focused on the items that are relevant to the specific situation that you are arguing about.
  9. No name calling. This one ties closely with honoring. When you call the other person by some derogatory designation, you have expressed your lowest opinion of them. You have taken out the switch blade to injuriously cut at their self worth. Winning an argument is never worth cutting the legs out from under the heart the one you love. If you love them your goal is to build up, never cut down. Sticks and stone may break bones but words can devalue a person to the point of complete and utter despair.
  10. And because lists like this are always 10 in length, no more and no less (and who am I to argue?) this is the last one. Love wins the day and hurt loses it. You can weather any storm if you know that you each have each other's back and that each other's love is unconditional. You can feel safe sharing your diverse opinions knowing that in the end you will still be loved.
  11. And because I hate rules :) Number 11 is: No shields and so sabers. Absorb the hard to hear words and never use your words to cut back. Listen to understand. An argument is not a duel to the death. It is a coming together to better understand each other. So, leave your shields down and hear what is being said. For that to work, though, both sides need to commit to making it safe to leave shield down.  

There. My 10+1 rules for successful arguing! Now go forth and communicate!

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