When you’re arguing you’re wasting time

I learned a valuable lesson this week. I found myself in an argument with someone on a topic about which they had no idea what they were talking about. But I could tell that they really wanted to be seen as informed and in the know. This person is highly accomplished and well regarded in general, but they had gotten themselves into a discussion they had no business being in.

I find myself discussing things I don’t know about either. That’s okay – it’s actually how you learn, if you handle yourself correctly. This person did not. They chose to disagree vociferously with my every statement. “Chose” is the wrong word. It seemed more like they were compelled.

One strategy I’ve always used in these situations is to listen for the things the other person is saying that are correct and then go out of my way to agree with them, complimenting the person on being right about those things specifically. This usually diffuses the tension opening up a space for me to make the point I actually think is important.

No dice. I went there and they weren’t having it. My efforts might have even fueled more irrational disagreement.

So then I just stopped. Let them keep talking, even if they think they’ve somehow won. Everyone else can tell what’s really going on and if they can’t, that’s on them, not me. And once I made that decision, the whole thing went from being minor annoyance to something I could have fun with.

My dad taught me that you only argue with someone if you care about what they think and you want to change their mind. I don’t care at all, for the most part. Let’s have fun instead.

 

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