The best way to win a fight, is to avoid one in the first place. Likewise, the best way to win an argument is to avoid one before it starts. They both have a common solution: use your words, appropriately. You can scream and yell words at someone, but that is not communicating, it's intimidating. Intimidation might work well in the boxing ring, but it never works well with other people and relationships.
Below is the 1-2-3 knockout combo for winning all arguments before they start.
1. Ask questions -
I ask people a lot of questions when conflict is brewing. Asking a person a thoughtful question, that you’re genuinely interested in, is very disarming. It is flattering to have someone interested in you and your ideas. You don’t have to make it the Spanish Inquisition, but he who asks the questions is in control of the conversation. Whenever you are in doubt of how to navigate a difficult situation, find an intelligent question to ask. If you don't have a question, try a powerful statement like, "That is very interesting, I did not know that." Next, ask a related question. You are interested and affirming the other person’s knowledge, without agreeing. Few people genuinely are interested in others. You are not asking to look for ammunition to launch your attack, but for the simple goal of understanding another person.
One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.
- Bryant H. McGill -
2. Listen carefully -
Now you are about to do the hardest work you will do all day, actually listening to someone else. So often, we are so caught up in our own head, that we are not listening. Everyone knows you should "actively" listen. ACTIVE is the key part of that word. It is work. You are trying to hear what the other person is saying while crowding out your own urge to form a response. Don't listen to respond, but listen to fully understand.
Let them know you are listening by giving them clues. I always make sure to nod, smile, two-word comment and participate in the listening. It's not multitasking time, it's not phone-checking time, it is one-on-one eye contact and listening.
After you ask your question, it is time to shut your mouth and open your mind.
When people talk, listen completely, Most people never listen.
- Ernest Hemingway -
3. Respond appropriately and respectfully -
When emotions are high and tempers are flaring, it can be very hard to keep your cool. I never want to let anyone see me sweat. They won't have control of my emotions; I am my emotions’ master. If I get angry at what someone has said, I have already lost the argument. They have me, they are in control and they are pulling my strings. I practice responding more like water.
Imagine a pebble thrown into a pond. The water responds equally to the amount of force and mass - no more, no less. Then it returns to calm. You might think that based on this analogy, that you could respond strongly, to strong words. However, words are not equal to fists. Water absorbs the stones and returns to calm.
This does not mean that you have to agree with them. However, everyone deserves to be spoken to respectfully.
When they know you are open to their ideas, they will likewise be open to yours. If you practice the above 1-2-3 combo, you will win the argument, plus the respect and admiration of your challenger. By win, I mean it will have positive results, which fighting seldom has. No fight or war ever had a winner, only losers...
"There are no good wars, with the following exceptions: The American Revolution, World War II, and The Star Wars Trilogy." - Bart Simpson -
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