“I hear what you’re saying, but…you’re wrong!” How many times have you used that phrase? How many arguments have you started as a result? Arguments are unforgiving. You can’t take back what you say. It’s like trying to apologize to the glass you dropped on the floor. “I’m sorry,” won’t glue the pieces back together.
And why argue over opinions anyway? They are just concepts; there’s no actual turf (other than the ego) that arguing defends. The threat we feel when we argue kicks off the “fight or flight” mechanism. The body becomes flooded with stress hormones and the thinking part of the brain literally shuts down.
So, if you’ve been getting caught up in opinion wars, you have not been thinking clearly or objectively.
Some helpful tips to help you stay out of an argument:
Stop Trying to Win
Think of others’ opinions as experiences that are connected to emotions. So, when you try to discredit or win, you are essentially saying, “Hey, your experience doesn’t count.” Experiences are valid proof of why people feel the way they do, which is why people can justify their opinions. Let it go.
Never Say “You’re Wrong”
It is not respectful to send someone’s opinion down the garbage shoot. Look for one aspect of the person’s opinion you can agree with:
Clarify what you’ve heard. “You said that dogs are too much work so you don’t like them as pets.”
Agree on a point. “I can understand that as a busy person, it can be too much to really enjoy the company of a dog.”
Do not insert BUT or HOWEVER.
Add Your Opinion
“I have found a way to balance my schedule so that I can enjoy my freedom and my dog.”
Just the Facts, Please
A great way to prevent getting emotionally charged is to use facts to replace feelings. Instead of, “Dogs are the best creatures in the whole world!” say, “Research suggests that when people have dogs, they live longer, healthier lives.”
And the Final Word Goes To…
Both of you. If you let go of the need to be right and make it your goal to give the other person the latitude, you will create the space to be heard. This method creates equal footing on the matter, mutual respect and a well-avoided argument.
Interpersonal Skills and Communications Expert