Why do we argue? 

I mean, why do we argue, when we know its futile to do so. 

  • You like red and I like blue. You can go on and on about Red – red is cool, red is sexy, red is awesome, etc. I am NOT going to wear a red shirt (leave alone a red underwear!!). Then why argue?
  • You think the B in BJP stands for “best” and I say it stands for “bekaar”. Now tell me, do you think either of us will ever change our stance, especially on basis of a discussion between us? Have u ever seen that a person changed his support from party A to B, after an argument/debate with someone?
  • You prefer the beach and I want to go to the mountains. Even after an hour long argument, if you convince me to go to the beach, do you really think I will be genuinely ‘happy’ at the beach?
  • You had to urgently buy a packet of milk and in the crowded street, there were no parking slots vacant, so you took the chance to park right outside the store. You were gone just for 90 seconds. And the moment you come out of the store, a traffic cop is moving away from your car, having slapped a Rs 1000 fine. You rush after him, stop him and engage him in an argument. You really believe any cop will ever take back the ticket? 

The biggest irony of having an argument is that instead of convincing the other person on your stand, you end up actually solidifying his/her resolve on his own stand. In some countries, there is actually a rebate offer: Don’t argue and pay only $15 for the $20 ticket. Argue and pay the full $20 if your appeal is turned down. Its no wonder that most people prefer taking the rebate offer.

There are two types of people: those who try to win and those who try to win arguments. They are never the same.

~ Nassim Nicholas Taleb

There are people, who love the thrill of arguments, by the challenge of converting someone’s opinion. For them, having an opinion on something is not enough, they would rather ratify the same by entering into an argument with someone who is not convinced. These people can go on and on, many times just repeating the same set of points, till you finally give in to their point of view.

The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.

~Dale Carnegie

The moment you get a hint of someone wanting to engage you in an argument, the safest strategy is to walk away. Do not let the other person hold you there. Change the subject or politely tell the person that you are not interested. 

And if you realise that its late and you are stuck in a conversation which is not going anywhere, but its also difficult for you to get out of it, then use the other secret weapon: Listen 

Just simply let the speaker speak his heart out on his point. Patiently nod, smile and let the person know that he/she has your rapt attention. Do not counter, do not add to the points, just listen. The argument and the enthusiasm of the other person is bound to die down lot sooner, compared to when you would have engaged even slightly.

The more vociferous the person, the more likely is he the type, who will not be easy to handle, as he/she would rather have the other person agree to all that he thinks is right.  Especially with people like this, its all the more important to walk away, rather than waste our energy in a futile argument.

He who establishes his argument by noise and command shows that his reason is weak.

~ Michel de Montaigne

So next time, if you see you are being drawn into an argument, step back, walk away or just ‘listen’.

Cover pic credit: Lightfield Studios