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The Art of Argument

Posted by on April 2nd, 2009 with 0 Comments

While Angie and I were camping last week, we had the ‘pleasure’ of listening to an argument in a nearby campsite.

As we talked the next day, we decided that there were 6 reasons why people argue:
  1. Because they’re right – these folks fall into three categories:
    a) Those that know they are right. Stay away from them. You aren’t going to get anywhere, unless you’re engaging in a Type 4 argument (having fun). In that case, party on!
    b) Those that think they are right. You can actually have a productive argument with someone who thinks they are right.
    c) Those that want to be right. Someone who’s arguing about something they love (like family or religion) might fall in this category. You should ask yourself if this is an argument you’re willing to win. The fallout may be too great.
  2. Because you’re wrong – These folks don’t have a right answer. They just believe that you’re wrong. You’d better have a great evidence, because you don’t have any credibility with them on this issue.
  3. Because they’re obstinate – They have a stance. They don’t know if it’s right. They don’t care if you’re wrong. They are not going to move.
  4. Because it’s fun (for them) – I sometimes fall into this category. I like to argue for sport, with no attachment to outcome. And, I love to watch tightly strung people blow a gasket. If you’re highly strung, you probably don’t want to enter an argument with me or someone like me.
  5. Because they think the situation calls for a ‘devils advocate’ – It often helps to get an alternative point of view. Some people occupy this role strategically. Others do it as a way of life. Occasionally, the position is assigned to someone.
  6. Because it helps them think – Debating helps me think. I’ll sometimes argue both sides of an issue within a half-hour. I’m not tied to any position yet.
You can see that it’s pretty important to see why someone is arguing.
And, it’s just as important to understand why you are arguing.
Purpose changes the dynamics.
So, next time you’re in an argument, try asking, “Why?”
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