Arguments are stupid. If a Mormon and an Atheist are friends, will an argument about God and religion do them any good? What about die hard two sports fans from opposing teams? A pro-life versus a pro-choice advocate?
Let’s say my friend and I are arguing about whether or not being a vegetarian. This is a lose-lose argument, because no matter how much proof or Harvard Studies I can quote from, I will never be able to bully her into believing that vegetarian is the best option. ESPECIALLY because going vegetarian isn’t a viable option for people who LOVE meat. Eventually, after all the facts have been stated, the argument will diminish into a battle of rhetoric. If I “win” this battle, she will walk away, unconvinced, with a damaged view of me.
Arguing with someone only makes them MORE likely to hold on to what they believe in. As they defend their beliefs against you, they’ll actually believe in it MORE strongly.
One of my favorite books, How To Win Friends and Influence People, is incredibly insightful on the topic of criticism and arguments. That book has helped me time and time again, and should be number one on your self-improvement bookshelf.
So basically, disagreements should be approached in one of two ways.
If you find yourself criticizing someone, this is a sign you’re entering into a destructive argument that will erode your relationship. Here’s a list of common criticisms that should bring up red flags:
I lose respect for the people who argue in front of me, angrily spouting accusations and criticisms. Not only does it mean those people are not mature enough to go about their differences in a polite manner, but it also points to some ugly character flaws.
So don’t argue! You’re better than that.
“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” -Leo Tolstoy
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