6 Reasons Why You Never Need
to Win an Argument

by Melissa Karnaze

Winning an argument is always tempting.

Who doesn’t want to be right? Have the last word? Be the meanest and sharpest and smartest with their words?

Be victorious!

    Not feeling it?

Argument is usually corrosive to healthy relationships, and here are six reasons why you never need to win one:

1. You can never technically “win”

Presidential debates stir up the media, and people love to vote on which candidate performed better. But in the end, neither candidate wins — because there are no judges, no standards, no rules. The country may have voted in one candidate’s favor — but loyal supporters of the opponent will hold strongly to their version of how victory went down.

So when you argue with someone and you think you can win or that you have won… think about it more carefully. Even if you make better points and counter each of theirs — that doesn’t mean you’ll convince them that you won. More likely, it means that they’ll get even more upset because you shut them down, or worse — they’ll avoid you, resent you, or be passive aggressive in revenge.

2. Arguing perpetuates conflict

For the same reasons that no one wins an argument, arguing only adds more tension to conflict.

If you work well with your emotions and are crafty enough, you can shift arguments into meaningful, intimate, constructive conversations.

But most of the time, arguments just turn things into bigger problems and you end up saying what you don’t really mean. You end up miscommunicating your feelings because you decided to use your words as weapons, instead of magic.

3. The legal system is based on arbitration

Most of time, you can solve your problems with other people directly. For more serious interpersonal disputes, you can hire a lawyer, who’s trained to defend your legal rights. But even then, your lawyer’s not going to war, but to court. Where a jury decides who’s right.

Whether or not that jury is “right” is a whole different story. The point is, the jury makes the decision — because it isn’t directly involved in the argument. So the most serious interpersonal disputes are resolved through arbitration, not argument.

4. No one can argue against feelings

Your feelings exist whether or not someone tries to argue them into nonexistence.

When someone doesn’t like hearing what you think… and what you feel — let them. They have a right to their own opinion. They have a right to not be considerate of you in that moment. They have a right to only think for themself.

They can try to argue against your feelings, by telling you that you shouldn’t have them, you’re being unreasonable, your being illogical or irrational, you’re too sensitive, or you’re overreacting.

They can try all they want — but just because they argue doesn’t mean they win (remember #1). What would they win anyway? Completely invalidating you?

They can give you cause to feel invalidated by arguing against your feelings.

But if you hold your personal boundaries and don’t argue back (simply healthily deflect back), you’ve won. You’ve held your ground. You’ve not let them sway you.

It’s when you argue back, by defending your feelings when you never have to… that you let them win.

5. No one can argue against needs

The same thing goes for your basic needs in your relationships. You know them. You have them. You can communicate them to others.

If someone disrespects your needs, then you need to have boundaries in place to inform you what you will and will not tolerate from them.

What you don’t need to do is argue with them about why they should care about your needs enough to respect to them. If you have to pull teeth to convince them to care, then how much of your time are they worth anyway?

6. Trying to control another person’s opinion oversteps both their boundaries and yours

Arguing has one objective: to control. What someone thinks. What they feel. What they should do. What they want. What they need. What’s good for them.

You don’t want others controlling you. And you don’t want to control others. That’s lose-lose for everyone.

Avoid the temptation

Argument is war, but with words. The objective is to attack, counter-attack, and parry. Your relationships are not about war, but cooperation.

If you find yourself in a heated argument, or firing up for one, ask yourself: Do you want your relationship to go to war? And can anyone win in the first place?

When argument seems tempting, consider the more emotionally intelligent and response able alternative: having an honest discussion about the real problem that needs to be fixed.

About the Author: Melissa Karnaze tries very hard not to argue with commenters, and occasionally juices negative comments into articles. Her inspirational free e-class, Your Life Is Your Construct, is full of practical tips on how to maintain healthy relationships. Learn more about it and sign up here.

{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Toni lamb September 24, 2009 at 8:46 pm

Very useful post! It seems like so many bloggers/writers blog about the same thing & it’s gets so boring & dull. So, when I came across this post I was tickled pink that is was something different and so useful! Thank you for writing something different! Very much appreciated:)

Melissa Karnaze September 24, 2009 at 8:52 pm

Thanks Toni, that’s great to hear! I do try to write about new topics, or old topics in new ways. It’s hard work that is very rewarding. :)

Vin - NaturalBias September 29, 2009 at 6:23 am

Great points, Melissa! Even if you present the most rational and logical information, the person you’re presenting it to may still choose to not believe it. Furthermore, you may actually be wrong! By forcing the issue, you may win the battle, but lose the war, and victory can be very lonely!

Melissa Karnaze September 29, 2009 at 9:05 am

That’s right Vin, forcing an issue may appear victorious, but it could be far from the truth, or just one battle in a losing war. And in the end, the relationship loses when it’s constantly at war. Thanks for adding these great points!

Melissa Karnaze October 29, 2009 at 10:26 am

Just want to draw some attention to another comment discussion going on at the article, “Dysfunctional Beliefs of a Jehovah’s Witness Apostate.”

It shares more of the backstory on how this article came to be.

Roel October 29, 2009 at 1:57 pm

Nice posting! It just happens i had a discussion with my colleagues today
they want the give the customer what they want.
I want to give the customer what he needs.
I hate it when the bring some irrelevent points in a discussion to make me look bad and when the not are try to open for discussion.

This post gave me some piece of mind and the courage to say “scr*w them”
No one even the customer will appreciate it when someone adds a different point of view.

At the end, its best not to waste any energy, if there’s no possibillity for an open discussion. This way i can say “I told you so” when they have proven to be wrong.

Melissa Karnaze October 30, 2009 at 5:38 pm

Roel, glad to hear it gave you some peace of mind. :) Yeah, arguing wastes a lot of energy if it can’t be turned into an actual discussion.

GMNightmare October 31, 2009 at 3:18 am

The key flaw to this whole article is that arguing isn’t about “winning”, in fact, hardly ever is about winning. It is practically always people on the outside of an argument to discourage others and berate them for thinking they must be trying to “win”.

1) What do presidential debates do and thus why do they occur? This should be an easy question. Hint: It’s not about winning.
2) Arguing only perpetuates conflict with fools who let it. It’s a sign of deeper issues.
3) This is proof against your point. Look at 1 if you don’t see why.
4) Failing to defend yourself is completely bad advice, to let people walk all over you without even telling them that they are hurting you. No, just overall, bad advice.
5) If you can’t defend what you need, then you obviously don’t need it. This is inconsiderate to the other person, you have given them no reason behind the need… making it weak. Especially when your needs conflict with theirs. Your relationship will break, as you will never come to common ground or resolve this without arguing it.
6) Arguing isn’t about control. Just like it isn’t about winning.
Your last paragraph makes no sense: “having an honest discussion about the real problem that needs to be fixed” is an argument.

Argument and conflict does not corrode a relationship. A healthy relationship must have argument and conflict, actually. To avoid it, as you are suggesting, is what actually corrodes a relationship, or leads to an unhealthy relationship. The number one problem in marriages is avoidance of conflict.

If you have no arguments, you are not an intellectual, nor are you honest to yourself. There is no such thing as a relationship without conflict, do not avoid it.

Of course moderation is key. You have to pick your battles as they say.

Melissa Karnaze October 31, 2009 at 8:33 am

GMNightmare, if arguing isn’t about winning, then what is the purpose of your comment? It seems to me you are out to prove me wrong.

You are misinterpreting argument for conflict.

Just because you have not experienced having an honest discussion about real problems that need to be fixed does not mean that other people haven’t. I can see this article has made you very defensive. By trying to argue how it’s wrong, you probably won’t feel very validated by this comment.

Because I’m not going to argue the points that I already made. I will, however, have a discussion if you have something constructive or genuinely inquisitive to offer.

GMNightmare October 31, 2009 at 1:10 pm

Purpose of my comment was to inform, and to give a counter. It’s more for the spectators, than for actually you. I’m trying to prevent others from listening to your bad advice. It’s called the merits of an actual discussion, you have failed to sway me with your article, is that all you got? Apparently yes, your only running away by calling everything that opposes your view an argument.

It’s a common tactic. It’s not only insulting, you do it with this haughty, “I’m so better than you” act. What do you gain, by ignoring all and any criticism under your false pretenses? Not to mention, in your post, you flat out attacked me. Why? I reread my post a few times, I made sure I didn’t level any personal attacks, yet you resorted to them in order to ignore what I said? Is that your defense to try to skirt the argument… because generally that starts arguments.

Constructive or genuinely inquisitive? You mean agreeing with you right? Because I can’t disagree with you, otherwise you’ll ignore it and call it an argument. Would you like to point out what part of my first post wasn’t “honest” or a “discussion”?

What I don’t understand, is why your supporting blatant ignorance. Keep your views no matter what, anyone opposes them, ignore them. I would go source crazy here, on how psychologically, you can ruin people with your above advice. It is absolutely unsound.

By the way, an argument is an attempt to resolve a conflict. So no, I’m not really mistaking them. Perhaps you have this absolutely non-normalized connotation of “argument”, would you define the term? Because technically, your article, is an argument. Is this a hypocritical do what I say, not what I do?

You seem to wonder what to purpose of my post was… well then, I ask you, what was the purpose of your article? It’s no different, but an illusion of self grandeur. As a last note, my post contained both defensive and offensive elements to it.

Melissa Karnaze October 31, 2009 at 3:21 pm

It’s called the merits of an actual discussion, you have failed to sway me with your article, is that all you got?

“Is that all you got?” is an aggressive, argumentative statement that I would not say to any of my readers here.

I am not going to try and persuade you to agree with the article, GMNightmare. My goal is to mobilize readers who are willing and ready to work with their emotions in constructive ways. Anything you say has no bearing on how other readers have found value in and applicability from the article.

What do you gain, by ignoring all and any criticism under your false pretenses?

You don’t know what criticism I have and have not considered when formulating this article, and as such, your statement is argument bait.

You mean agreeing with you right? Because I can’t disagree with you, otherwise you’ll ignore it and call it an argument.

You are welcome to disagree, but the way in which you are communicating is argumentative. I will not engage in an argument with you, whether that is ignoring your argument or not. And just so you know, I am not obligated to even respond to your statements, or even approve them in the comment queue, because this site is personal property in cyberspace. Steve Pavlina lays it out well in Free Speech in Online Communities: The Delusion of Entitlement.

If you genuinely want to help spectators, create something constructive, instead of hanging around here trying to somehow convince me that what I’ve spent years of experience and hours of writing is actually false.

Would you like to point out what part of my first post wasn’t “honest” or a “discussion”?

Well, a discussion is a respectful interaction, for the purpose of exchanging various perspectives. Your first post was basically six reasons why you disagree with the article, along with some assumptions about me. You basically did not ask to hear anything else from me. You simply stated your beliefs.

So you were not trying to engage with me at a respectful level, where I could tell that you really wanted to know what I think. Instead, your response was all about what you think. You may have been hoping that I would get mad at you for disagreeing, and then “give you all I got.” But as I said earlier, that’s not how I interact with my readers. Because… arguing is usually a waste of time. (Notice how I am responding to your questions, that is not necessarily a waste of time. It is actually a great way to demonstrate the article’s principles directly to readers.)

If you wanted to have an honest discussion, you may have asked me to clarify points, or ask how I came to conclusions that seemed illogical to you. That’s what I meant about genuinely inquisitive, trying to understand me — discussion is about understanding, arguing is about hurting people and/or avoiding talking about your feelings. From there, we might have been able to actually discuss the issues.

Perhaps you have this absolutely non-normalized connotation of “argument”, would you define the term? Because technically, your article, is an argument. Is this a hypocritical do what I say, not what I do?

Arguing is using aggression with words to intimidate or cut down or coax another person. But it can be more than that. It can include a subset of tactical language designed to detract from facing real issues head-on, evading statements, and so forth.

Every article here is an argument, yes — almost all writing is.

But the difference here is that I am not antagonizing my readers and getting upset when they don’t agree with me.

You seem to wonder what to purpose of my post was… well then, I ask you, what was the purpose of your article?

Again, argument tactic. The About page states the purpose for Mindful Construct, which applies to all of the articles here.

GMNightmare November 4, 2009 at 9:24 pm

Hm? You obviously did not consider my criticism, as your article doesn’t cover it. You’re ignoring my criticism by calling it an argument, thus your above such things…

You have a vast superiority complex there. Maybe it’s because you just can’t possibly grasp that you maybe giving bad advice: “Anything you say has no bearing on how other readers have found value in and applicability from the article.” In actuality, my first post may indeed have bearing, it may have prevented them from taking your bad advice. Maybe, who knows. But for you to automatically assume I’m wrong, and what’s worse, basically say your ignorance is beneficial is well… against the whole point of your about page.

To counter first, I don’t just assume your wrong. I clearly outlined points why this is bad advice.

At that, “is all you got?” was only rhetoric, so that you could easily grasp what I’m saying and bypass you nitpicking at things. Alas, you nitpicked even that.

You assume I have to have a response. I didn’t. So your link is ridiculous. Stop assuming. Which is basically your whole problem. Assume, assume, assume. You have no idea what runs through my head, and you have clearly shown that. Along those lines, again, there was no personal attacks in my first post, and I didn’t assume anything. Each sentence directly correlates with something in your article.

I didn’t say all your writing is false. This specific article is, and it is bad advice. And I’ve given you why it’s bad advice, and your ignoring that. Why? You just don’t want to come to terms with it maybe? I don’t really know.

In actuality, you are not responding to my posts in a nonwasteful way, it is perhaps the greatest waste. You are indirect, you delude any points, and you just keep repeating if I don’t agree with you than it must not be a honest discussion. In other words, you are doing exactly this: “a subset of tactical language designed to detract from facing real issues head-on, evading statements, and so forth.” Instead of taking my statements head-on, you sidestep them calling it an argument, or I must be trying to make you angry… which is completely false.

Also, your about page is not the specific reason behind this post. It’s a blanket statement. Maybe you should look at yourself, and really see why you made such a post. In light of your recent posts against mine, your article is extremely hypocritical in every way. Do you not see this? Consider my point was made first then. Arguments are beneficial when done right. And your article is an attempted refutation of that. Understand?

What you are doing, is insulting, to the highest degree. For you to think I’m so stupid to not see beyond your words.

Melissa Karnaze November 4, 2009 at 10:27 pm

You’re right, I will not argue against your critcism, because… well, the article explains it.

Arguments are beneficial when done right. And your article is an attempted refutation of that. Understand?

Did you see this part of the article?

If you work well with your emotions and are crafty enough, you can shift arguments into meaningful, intimate, constructive conversations.

As I said before, you are welcome to shift the tone of your comments any time. But as long as you keep trying to argue with me, I’m not going to bite. :)

You are not listening to what I am saying, which is exactly why arguing is usually a waste of time. If your next comment resorts to the same tactics, I most likely will not respond.

Melissa Karnaze November 23, 2009 at 7:05 pm

Was very pleased to see Seth Godin’s post today, “How to lose an argument online.”

He brings up eight really good points, and the first one starts it out with a bang:

“Once you start an argument, not a discussion, you’ve already lost. Think about it: have you ever changed your mind because someone online started yelling at you? They might get you to shut up, but it’s unlikely they’ve actually changed your opinion.”

WN November 24, 2009 at 10:36 am

“muhahahahahaha! I’ve won! I made someone arguing against arguing argue with me!!! I’m a genius!!!”

Melissa, kudos to you for not getting hooked. This has been a revelatory exercise in how we all try to bait each other into dysfunctional relationships, and how we need to grow towards interdependency and self-love. I must say I was drawn into this exchange and rather riveted. The paradox here is that the one is who isn’t trying to win, becomes the– I hate to say it– the winner. IOW, you’re going to be able to sleep at night, while the codependent is gonna keep on hookin’! Tragically entertaining…

Melissa Karnaze November 24, 2009 at 10:49 am

Thanks WN, I was hoping readers would let me know if they see through this. ;)

This has been a revelatory exercise in how we all try to bait each other into dysfunctional relationships, and how we need to grow towards interdependency and self-love.

Yes, indeed, we try to bait each other all the time, to avoid what? Having an actual discussion, facing our real feelings, talking about real issues, admitting that others may disagree with us no matter how “right” we are, recognizing that we may not even really know what we believe as much as we’d like to, realizing that we have to get on with our lives even if our beliefs aren’t always argument-proof, and maybe even having an emotionally intimate conversation in the process — yikes!

Of course, these are all *really good* things having to do with interdependency and self-love, as you say. I see arguing as playing video games instead of getting to the meat of relationships (unless of course, it’s shifted to something constructive), and that’s the toned downed version of how I view this dysfunctional behavior. :)

The paradox here is that the one is who isn’t trying to win, becomes the– I hate to say it– the winner.

I agree. My take on being the winner is based on emotional health, response ability, and mindful constructs. The one who is groping to win is usually really scared that if they don’t “win” something bad will happen, people will judge them, their self-worth will be damaged, and their failures will be exposed. They are doing it angrily in self-defense, to avoid facing themselves and the stuff mentioned above.

The one who isn’t trying to win may still face all these fears, but they don’t use it as an excuse to pounce on another human being. They have to be calm in order to avoid the temptation — oh boy what a human temptation arguing is — and in order to be calm, they have to work with the same fears, constructively.

I read some of the comments here feeling very insulted. But I chose to work constructively with my emotions so that they wouldn’t get in the way of at least offering to have a discussion. I wasn’t zen the whole way through — was rather drawn in at moments as well — because zen does not just remain as zen.

It fluctuates. You have to work constructively with the monster emotions to reaffirm and strengthen substantial zen. But anyway, this is sounding like the start of another article. :P

Don Lessnau March 2, 2010 at 3:42 pm

This article is mostly new age PC garbage. What you’re describing is a bunch of automatons who never share who they are with others. How can you expect to have any deep, meaningful relationships by always trying to avoid giving your honest thoughts and feelings. It’s bad to yell and scream and call each other names but not sharing your true feelings and opinions is short-changing your interactions. It’s flatland. We’re not meant to go through life not upsetting others. If you live your truth, some will be offended no matter what you say or how you say it. Live out loud. Don’t hide your light. Otherwise you’re just a coward.

Melissa Karnaze March 2, 2010 at 4:51 pm

“How can you expect to have any deep, meaningful relationships by always trying to avoid giving your honest thoughts and feelings.”

Don, you missed the entire point of this article and website. Reading around might help a bit. ;)

Here’s a hint, not arguing and expressing your emotions are not mutually exclusive.

Mariam Faouaz-Lees March 6, 2010 at 9:59 pm

Hello,
Once again I truly appreciate your insights.
But I will respectfully suggest that your delineation of the courts as being an arbitration rather than a war has not been my experience.
There are serious flaws regarding the current state of the family court system throughout North America on the issue of family violence.
Without going into the mechanics of this, I will state that the family court system is most certainly a war zone, and has been so for some time.
Thank you.

Melissa Karnaze March 7, 2010 at 10:20 am

I hear you Mariam, very perceptive point.

What I was getting at is that the argument being resolved in court is not resolved by the original people in the conflict. Meaning that their way of relating to each other through conflict/argument/dispute won’t settle anything. Instead, they need to bring in third parties to help resolve it (lawyers, jury, judge). Those third parties are arbiters. And the court system is not set up where one person is supposed to win by terrorizing the other person. Even though it can come across that way, as systems are based on ideals, but human interactions are much messier.

Courts are set up to weigh evidence, based on sets of laws of procedures (and yes, there is a difference between how the system is set up and what it actually amounts to in practice). Courts differ from arguments — where pretty much anything goes, and insults can fly in all directions — because are they held to system standards.

But yes, I do agree that courts can easily become war zones, and your experience speaks for itself. Still, I thought it was worth mentioning that even so, it’s not the original arguers that get the final say… because arguing isn’t standardized nor an effective way to settle disputes — that’s why they had to take it to court, the arguing didn’t work. Hence, arguing (in its untamed and raw form) doesn’t cut it at the legal level of settling conflict.

Does it make more sense why I included that in the list? Or does it not make a difference? :P

Lionel Mandrake May 23, 2010 at 6:13 pm

Really like this discussion, particularly because we still are in a culture that often tries to shout the other down.

Anecdotally, I have entered into quite a few Internet forum discussions, naively thinking I could contribute to toning down the invective elements and move towards dialogue. Never happened.

Dialogue, the interchange of ideas, and discussion are largely undeveloped arts in our culture. But the main point is these disciplines make people engaged in them bigger (no not fat) and those engaged in the opposite more impoverished.

In a culture where we are still often trained to react to try and pull down the opposition, I think the only real way of countering this is to build or be a part of a counter culture that promotes true dialog and discussion, which ultimately values the diverse opinions of every individual. Everyone profits when this can be realized.

Melissa Karnaze May 25, 2010 at 10:00 am

Hi Lionel,

I’ve dabbled in quite a few online forum discussions as well. It’s very easy to analyze arguments in this setting, because it’s all recorded. In real-time arguments, not remembering *exactly* what was said when almost always leads to selective memory. You might like this article where I talk specifically about online forum discussions. :)

Dialogue, the interchange of ideas, and discussion are largely undeveloped arts in our culture.

Indeed. Culturally, we raise new generations to debate things rather than discuss them. What’s lost is tremendous learning and collaboration opportunity, self-reflection, and of course, emotional intimacy. And this relating spills into close relationships with family, romantic partners, and friends, which does even more to prevent emotional intimacy or understanding.

As you say, the only way to change this is to be a part of true dialog and discussion, and not fuel arguments, but respond to argumentative people in a more constructive way (which may even mean no response at all).

Mary W. Hopkins, Ed.D. August 25, 2010 at 5:01 am

Great post! A nice deconstructing of why trying to win an argument inevitably leads to a result you probably don’t want, i.e. greater interpersonal distance and alienation. I plan to commit this to memory so I can share it with clients!

Melissa Karnaze August 25, 2010 at 8:28 am

Thanks for the feedback Mary! It’s amazing how letting go of the need to argue can shift relationships for the better!

MPayton October 6, 2010 at 4:01 pm

A wise perspective on discussions/arguments probably why Charlie Rose & Larry King have done so well. I miss the show Ethics in America also a well done format. You have to consider the source(person) who you start a discussion with. Many are not mature enough to say I don’t know or have any experience with that subject but are good at arguing the opposite of a premise just to portray intelligence. I admire those who can have a discussion, share ideas, & be honest about their sphere of knowledge/experiences with the facts.
I tell those who argue, I don’t have infinite wisdom, I may not agree or see their point ever but I will not dismiss their life experiences for that reason.

Melissa Karnaze October 7, 2010 at 4:03 pm

MPayton, thanks for your comment. Sometimes people play devil’s advocate because they don’t have what it takes to admit to what they don’t know. Your telling others that you may disagree but won’t discredit someone’s life experience is actually hard for most people to do. It’s scary, because it means admitting to how little is actually “known” and how we’re (humanity is) just kind of just winging it. While difficult, it sure makes it easier to relate to others.

Cory October 8, 2010 at 9:56 am

On “humanity just kind of winging it”:

“There is no escape. You can’t be a vagabond and an artist and still be a solid citizen, a wholesome, upstanding man. You want to get drunk, so you have to accept the hangover. You say yes to the sunlight and pure fantasies, so you have to say yes to the filth and the nausea. Everything is within you, gold and mud, happiness and pain, the laughter of childhood and the apprehension of death. Say yes to everything, shirk nothing. Don’t try to lie to yourself. You are not a solid citizen. You are not a Greek. You are not harmonious, or the master of yourself. You are a bird in the storm. Let it storm! Let it drive you! How much have you lied! A thousand times, even in your poems and books, you have played the harmonious man, the wise man, the happy, the enlightened man. In the same way, men attacking in war have played heroes, while their bowels twitched. My God, what a poor ape, what a fencer in the mirror man is- particularly the artist- particularly myself!”

-Hermann Hesse

Found this AMAZING quote here.
http://www.reclusland.com/compass/page/2/

Kristi October 14, 2010 at 12:00 pm

I just had one of those “a-ha” moments! This is my first visit to this site, and, already, I love it. I haven’t integrated the information yet, but I see wonderful, life saving possibilities! Thanks! Kristi

mistie June 14, 2011 at 5:15 pm

Melissa, you tell us arguing is pointless, yet you got yourself into an argument with a commenter. Do you really believe arguing is pointless?

Melissa Karnaze June 14, 2011 at 8:38 pm

mistie, your opinion — that I “got myself into an argument with a commenter” — is one I don’t agree with.

Do you really believe arguing is pointless?

Your question is predicated by the assumption that I believe that arguing is pointless, which is not the argument of this article.

slap happy June 29, 2011 at 1:25 am

Arguments are generally healthy. However, it’s not realistic to expect to win. Some opinions are worth destroying, some that involve the well being of others.

Count Sneaky October 23, 2011 at 2:02 pm

What an excellent post this is. It reminded me of this by Samuel Butler:
“Truth generally is kindness, but where the two converge and collide,
kindness should override truth. ” And, of course, Dr. Seuss,”Sticks and
stones may break my bones, but words can break my heart.” So,
I think the value of any conversation, discussion, or argument is not
a measure of your courage or intellect, knowledge, or personal brilliance.
It is a measure of your empathy and ability to suffer “the slings and arrows
of outrageous fortune”…without losing your self respect…or cool.
My best.

Molly March 6, 2012 at 1:46 pm

All 6 of those reasons are very true and well thought out. My personal favorite is #4 because people often try to argue against feelings and the only way they “win” is if you let them make you feel inferior, but even then the only thing they win is short-lived pride that they won that argument. Arguments rarely end with both parties feeling satisfied with the outcome which is why I do not agree with those who say arguing is healthy for relationships. Even arguing with those whose opinions are worth destroying is not effective because people will hold onto their beliefs no matter what. Healthy discussions are a better alternative to arguments in every situation.

VesicalThanatos June 19, 2012 at 11:47 am

Thank you so much for this article, I found it really helpful. My girlfriend has a tendency to be needlessly argumentative and contrary, and it often does frustrate me, so it was helpful to see these things laid out :)

mammothbane July 23, 2012 at 4:02 pm

actually, the legal system (at least where a lawyer is concerned) is almost 100% about winning. most lawyers don’t actually care whether they’re proving the truth; their main goal is to convince the jury that they’re right (i.e. win against opposing counsel).

i also object to #6, as i don’t argue for those reasons at all. i argue with my friends on philosophical topics to come to a better understanding of their (and my) viewpoints on the topics.

however, in all, i agree with the spirit of the article in that i don’t find gratuitous, competitive argument to be necessary or interesting; in fact, i usually find it obnoxious, and it’s clear that most of the time at least one arguing party is merely attempting to raise their self-esteem through winning.

Martin August 11, 2012 at 8:15 am

Melissa you’re the bomb!

I feel my eyes just got popped open by this article.

It requires a high degree of self consciousness to pull it off though (and comfortable in being oneself). I notice that for the most part i behave like this, and get to receive apologies later…someone would come and tell me ‘Hey Mart, this is what you were trying to say that other time…i now understand/ am sorry i never gave you the chance to speak!’ (But that usually happens when they have really gone ahead and messed up big time!

What amazes me is that i usually catch myself feeling so hurt that ‘they’ went on to hurt themselves or others so badly.

Why is this the case?

Djura February 20, 2013 at 11:26 am

I want to thank you for the article. It has been very productive and insightful for me. You points has be realized and some of the commenters are making it for you too. Funny! Is there a such thing as a healthy argument in your view. I know that argument is combative but some conflict is good isn;t. For example, i coach Tball and there are no winning or losing but at some point the kids get older and play to win or lose. Perhaps a bad comparison…I guess it depends on if both parites are engaging in an argument or one is forcing the issue…I think you get what i mean…I do get that there differing ways to make your point but i would think that between to mature adults and a health argument can be relized with respectful boundaries…Thanks for taking my comment. And your work is appricated. Hope all is well!
By way do you have or recommend any books or further reading materials.

Qaiser Khalil December 10, 2013 at 8:30 pm

I am in the advertising field and I face heartless criticism of our projects by one or another person from the clients. I tried your 6 points. On all occasions, they ignored my humble, friendly and accommodating gestures. According to a friend in the same field, they think they are King as they are paying for the project.

According to your thesis, I shall avoid arguments and comply with their mindless suggestions and ruin a good design.

adam January 26, 2014 at 3:10 am

but people do argue, and at times win people over. it’s about understanding the person. I suppose you can only win over open minded people, but I firmly beleive you can make people to become open minded. something stops them, like a mental block they have. it may not be easy but it can be done, and that is the answer we should be looking for, how is it done?

Steven September 13, 2014 at 11:08 pm

GMNightmare wasn’t exactly wrong years ago. He had valid points and you were being dismissive of them.

Your main point in retort to him was that an argument and a discussion are different things. Fair enough as they typically are viewed differently, but did you consider the fact, as he pointed out, that’s a connotation not a denotation of the word?

The truth is your definition of arguing is a fight, or conflict as was used, not the actual definition of arguing though conflict can be a subset of it. Winning is the goal in a fight, but its dismissive to label trying to share your worldview with someone else and get them to see things from your side as only about ‘winning.’ That’s a patronizing term considering even the view of a discussion is about winning, except its about a win-win. While most situations can be turned into win-win situations, some simply can’t and never should be. Would you say a discussion with person who believes in beating their wife should be a situation for a win-win? Doubtful.

Too many people try to dismiss those they see as argumentative simply because they don’t like having their worldview challenged, but if we didn’t challenge worldviews we’d be in an extremely different place right about now. So yeah, its about ‘winning’, but so is everything else we do because we consider happiness winning.

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