Have you ever expressed your opinion about something, only to face an argument with someone who doesn’t seem to care at all about what you think?
Did you get wrapped up defending yourself, only to see your actions backfire, because you found yourself knee-deep in verbal warfare?
No fun, right?
You don’t have to take that — you don’t have to do that to yourself.
There’s a healthier, constructive, self-respecting alternative.
Be like an armadillo
Armadillos are born with armor shells. They have built-on shields. And their strength comes from within — their DNA.
You can be like an armadillo, but it takes a bit more work since you aren’t born with external armor.
When it comes to protection from verbal attacks, you have to draw from your strength within, in a different way.
Find your strength
You have to live and breathe your truth so that others can’t touch you.
Which means you have to first believe in your truth, so that you can stand by it. And so that you won’t fall victim to disarray when someone challenges your truth.
(It’s okay, by the way, to revise your truths. It’s healthy, after all, to listen to both sides of any story — your story improves in the end.)
Once you know your truth, you can recognize when others try to invalidate it. That’s where your armor comes into play.
Deflect argumentative statements rather than engaging with them.
There’s a huge difference between the two that you need to understand. Engagement means you try to convince others to validate your truth. Deflection means you don’t care (as much) if they try to invalidate it.
Remember the armadillo. To be like him, you have to carry your armor wherever you go. Your armor is your confidence – that your truth is right for you. When you have that confidence, you don’t have to respond to those who try to tell you otherwise.
But if you do choose to respond, here are seven awesome ways to deflect adamant arguers.
1. “I’m not going to argue with you.”
This statement alone can catch an arguer off guard. What they want is to rile you. What they want is for you to feel compelled to respond. They feed off of your insecurity. Remain calm, and it forces them to face their own insecurity.
2. “I disagree,” or, “I see that you disagree with me. That’s fine.”
This is a more polite way to state #1. By invoking the terminology of (dis)agreeing, you send the message that you’re not convinced that the arguer’s opinions can be evaluated as absolute truths — they can only be assessed as subjective opinions.
It also helps you clarify that your opinion doesn’t hinge upon their opinion or approval.
3. “I’m not interested in an argument. Would like to discuss this instead?”
Sometimes you may want to give the arguer the benefit of the doubt, so you can ask politely if they actually want to discuss the issue. If they say yes, you can establish some common ground, which sets the stage for more respectful communication.
4. “What makes you form that opinion?”
Maybe you want to clarify why the arguer thinks what they do. Maybe you think they’re lashing out at you because of something from their past. It doesn’t hurt to ask. Even if they don’t know, or don’t care to be honest with you, asking the question shifts the conversation such that they have to justify their opinions.
5. “You’re trying to invalidate me.”
Or, “You’re trying to make me look stupid,” “You’re attempting to convince me that I’m wrong,” “Your belligerent manner of speaking does not persuade me.”
If someone tries to make you “wrong” for the sake of it, they’re just destructive. Constructive disagreement doesn’t hinge upon making you wrong, but benefits from mutual understanding, even if the extent of it is an agreement to disagree.
6. “You’ve misconstrued what I said.”
Or, “You’re using a hypothetical situation to avoid answering my question,” “You’re assuming that I think that,” “You’re forming a sweeping statement from my specific opinion that pertains to a very particular context.”
Arguers love to twist your words, and put words in your mouth. Why? Because it makes arguing so much easier for them!
If someone can tell you what you think — they can craft it such that it’s far easier for them to “prove wrong.” Send the message that such games don’t get past you.
7. “You’re personally attacking me.”
Or, “Clearly my opinion upsets you,” “I see that my views give you cause to lash out at me,” “I get that you disagree, but now you’re making this personal.”
Directly point out that verbal attacks don’t sway you; they only harm whatever relationship was there to begin with.
If someone attacks your character, call it out. You might even add, “I don’t appreciate it,” “Your language is abusive,” “I’m offended,” “I don’t tolerate such remarks.”
Where’s your armor?
You’ve learned about seven ways to deflect arguers. Can you think of any more?
What kind of armor do you carry with you? What kind of argument tactics throw you off guard?
Will you remember the armadillo the next time someone tries to bait you?
Feel free to share in the comments below.
Want more practical inspiration? Click here to check out the free 10-part e-class, Your Life is Your Construct, which gives you useful tips on how to step into your power, and work with and learn from your negative emotions.