Arguments are similar to Algebra, at least to me personally; there are countless factors and variables involved that make each argument different in its own way. You just have be able to recognize what the different factors and variables are, before taking action!
Firstly, you have to understand why arguments start in the first place. Common reasons for an argument to take place is to inform, to convince, to explore, and even to make decisions for others. I’ll break down these 4 common reasons of starting an argument.
- Arguing to Inform – This type of argument involves a statement that can be proved or disproved with facts and evidence. These are arguments of fact. A lot of times, this argument starts out by someone telling another about an even that happened. This is extremely common among conversations of gossip. Countless times, especially in high school, I observed fights over these types of arguments. If you find yourself arguing to inform, or being informed at, remember to just hear the person and their opinion out. Don’t jump in right away.
- Arguing to Explore – These arguments tend to revolve around definition, or the nature of things. Any issue that needs definition or a reason. An example of this argument could kick off with a question like, “Is shopping considered a sport?”. Whomever thinks that shopping is a sport, would then have to explain exactly why it is to the person that asked. Often the argument will then go into depth exploring all the reasons and factors of why it is or isn’t. These are my favorite types of arguments personally, where you can really get to know a person and their beliefs, as well as expand on your own.
- Arguing to Convince – This is an argument I find myself getting into frequently. This argument has a lot to do with evaluation – what is the quality of the topic? I find this most typical among disagreements about who is a better sports team, player, coach, trade, the list goes on. Too many times I had argue for and about my Sac Kings, or explaining the dynamics of Soccer here in America. To prove your point, this argument involves you to present criteria and statistics about the person, idea, or event against traditional standards. This type of argument is used not only to settle difference, but to expand what is known, or educating someone to think different.
- Arguing to Influence others’ decisions – This is also known as “proposing”. What actions should be taken for any given situation. This is where people tend to name viable alternatives and then recommend the other person to take one preferable course of action. Legendary among romantic partners, with arguments centered on “You never do stuff for me anymore” or “I would be nice if you can take out the garbage once a day, instead of once a week.” If you feel yourself going into this type of argument, remember to be very cautious as the subject could be a sensitive one for the person. I have seen many good friends not speak for weeks due to this type of argument.
After you fully recognize each argument, it is extremely critical to enter it with clear and open mind. Sounds simple and obvious, but I am surprised at how often people, myself included, totally don’t abide to this advice. There is usually no positive or mutually beneficial outcome to be had when you enter an argument with the wrong attitude or with high degrees of emotion.
Use conversation voice, and never yell. When you yell, that means you think it is ok to yell at that person, placing you “higher” than him/her. Yelling at a person will not get them to understand you more, but less. Another tip is to frequently reflect and think of what you are being told by the person. This is where you can learn a lot; by actively listening. Thats why we have 2 ears and only 1 mouth.
Following these first steps in any argument will allow you to avoid potential disaster and conflict melt-down and transition it into a mutually benefiting and win-win situation for everyone. I have learned a lot from past arguments, where I have regretted past actions and lost friends. I have taught myself to handle arguments appropriately, especially with those close to me, and I believe these tactics can help you.
Next: Learning from an argument, and making the best out of the situation.