How Not to Argue
I suspect most of you have taken note of the heated and divisive political climate these days. In case you wondered, it doesn’t have to be that way. But how can you engage in such conversations in an appropriate manner, when national leaders are failing? I have a few tips.
Avoid ad hominem attacks
What is “ad hominem”? The following definition is from dictionary.com:
- directed against a person rather than against his arguments
- based on or appealing to emotion rather than reason
ad hominem in Culture
A Latin expression meaning “to the man.” An ad hominem argument is one that relies on personal attacks rather than reason or substance.”
During a debate about gun control, one individual accused someone else in the discussion as having “no guts.” My friend, who was moderating this online discussion, reminded the group of his rule, “No ad hominem attacks allowed,” and deleted the offending comment.
This is what prompted me to look up the definition. My friend’s ability to navigate heated dialogue opened the door for a long debate in which people felt safe to share dissimilar points of view.
He also directed me to this great post on the 10 Commandments of Arguing, which has excellent tips.
Consider practicing T’s Rule of 3
T’s Rule of 3 (that’s T as in KrisTie) is “The first three things that come to mind as I listen to the other, I choose not to say.”
For example, I may want to interject, “My first car was a _____ too!” I do not say it and continue listening. I may think, “Oh! I love the color blue.” I stay quiet. Or, “Seriously, you support that candidate?!?!?” I remind myself to refrain.
This practice helps bring me back to a place of intentionally listening to another instead of thinking about what to say next.
Though some comments are benign, I realize they are also unnecessary additions to the conversation. I remind myself that not everyone needs to know everything about me all the time. This practice allows me to temper my speech and to think before saying something that would be offensive and unproductive.
I enjoy a good debate. I do not mind disagreement. I have found that a good way to approach a topic with differing opinions is to enter the discussion with the purpose of understanding others’ points of view without the demand that they change their belief or opinion.
I also want to be heard. Sometimes I am challenged to reconsider my particular stance and sometimes it is about accepting and appreciating our differences. Enjoy a good rumble now and again — when you set guidelines of mutual respect, it can be good for the soul. We can disagree and still be friends.
If you find yourself continually struggling with communication in a way that prevents you from developing and maintaining relationships, please come talk to a counselor at the ASU Health Clinic. We are here to help!