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Ineffective Argument Techniques

Dos and Donts of Arguing.

We all argue from time to time. Disagreements manifest into arguments, arguments into fights and the cost of every argument or fight is different, including ruin of your relationships. Knowing what to avoid when arguing helps in become more effective in voicing your issues while minimizing the costs

Don’t…

Bring up issues that are not related to the matter at hand. It clouds the issue at hand and steals credibility from the real problem. If you have to look to other issues to fight, then what is the problem anyways?

Instead try…

Stay focused on the problem at hand. Try to keep your opponent on track too. Fights will find a quicker conclusion this way. Other problems will still be rear their ugly heads in the future, but let things run their course.

Don’t…

Fight dirty. Keep comments away from personal attacks that are hurtful or purely vengeful. Even if this argument goes away, by lodging personal attacks, you have introduced new divisions in your relationship that may never be repairable.

Instead try…

Make arguments about behaviours and not persons. Don’t point out what is wrong with someone as a person, rather tell them what they did that pissed you off. If they are lodging personal attacks, take the high road and avoid the temptation to return the insults – as difficult as that might be.

Don’t…

Pass the blame to someone else. Both parties must accept fault in order to reach a compromise.

Instead try…

Admitting your faults and apologizing but qualifying with your concerns about what prompted your behaviour. For example, “I’m sorry I flew off the handle and, for that, I’m sorry, but frankly you know how it bothers me when you…”

Don’t…

Swear. It just shows that you are unprofessional, insensitive and disrespectful. Swearing is a sign of an ill-formed argument and is rarely effective.

Instead try…

Speak clearly and rationally. Speak slowly if that helps you form your thoughts better.

Don’t…

Get violent. This includes throwing things, slamming doors and punching inanimate objects as well as physical violence against another person. All of this is childish and does nothing to settle the argument. In fact, it practically says that you have no intention of settling this argument. It can also lead to unnecessary injury or damage to person or property and cause the problem to escalate.

Instead try…

Removing your self from the situation by explaining that you have a real interest in settling this problem but, in your current state of mind, do not feel you can do so in an effective and respectful manner. Take some time to write down on a piece of paper why you are angry or expend that pent up physical angst by going to the gym or walking.

Don’t…

Avoid arguments too long. In certain circumstances, it may be better to take a cooling-off period before getting into the heart of the problem but this can have disadvantages too. It can allow things to stew and get worse. Ongoing avoidance, can drive a wedge in your relationship such that no one wants to revisit the problem and, instead, prefer no interaction.

Instead try…

Taking a step back and a deep breath. Ask your opponent to slow down, if necessary. If you feel you need that cooling off period, tell your opponent you need to discuss this later and make a tentative plan to do so.

Engaging in a fight or argument is okay, but it is important that in doing so we remain considerate, respectful and controlled. Try to appreciate the opponent’s point of view and don’t be afraid to admit your faults when warranted. You will quickly gain the respect of others if you demonstrate that in all situations you are capable of humility, respect, confidence and focus.

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