Winning at all costs? Zero chance!

January 21, 2023
These days, do you feel that most people are more interested in arguing and defending their beliefs & opinions while trying to ‘win’ rather than considering new info and ideas (aka more people are close-minded rather than open-minded)? Is it possible that people are cherry-picking ‘evidence’ to support their current beliefs while ignoring or dismissing points that they don’t necessarily like, don’t currently believe, or don’t wish to be true? And while logic, evidence, or information may be steadfast and hard, they still won’t change their mind due to this preference or convenience.

Considering all this, arguing would have a 0% chance of changing their minds. Time and energy are wasted. Sure, we could debate logically and reasonably with points backed up with evidence and reason, but if people are going to be quick to defend beliefs and opinions at all costs, what’s the point.

Years ago, a close friend told me that his marriage had lasted so long because he doesn’t do drama. This made me chuckle, as I had met his wife years before. So, I guess she had to adapt (aka get her sh!t together) because he wasn’t having any of it. Experience teaches you that you cannot change the minds of most people. If you know you’re going to change someone’s opinion, why get both of you riled up by arguing? There are much better things to do with your time and energy.

I don’t give a flip if you agree with me, as I am not responsible for changing minds. Also, I don’t have any business even trying to change minds on some topics – you do you, and let me do me. Sure, I believe you can ‘influence’ peoplethus, my YouTube channel. But I am not there to change people’s minds. I am there to give food for thought and widen perspectives.

People are more likely to be influenced by what you’re saying if you can engage in a low-key, unemotional, and well-thought-out discussion. Arguing, by nature, is emotional, and it isn’t easy to hear past those emotions. And for me, I am not that good at staying unemotional about some subjects, so it’s best if I keep my mouth shut (and uncontroversial).

As for proof that arguing is a waste of time, look at online debates. People are very passionate about their side, and no one will change anyone’s mind unless they are already WILLING to be swayed – and in that case, it’s not an argument. It’s a discussion. I have reached a point where I am far less attached to changing anyone’s mind than I used to be. Sure, I will say what I think and enjoy a genuine discussion, but my quality bar for the interaction is much higher than in the past. If the other person wants to make a big debate-type production from my different point of view, I’m out. Combative conversations are a waste of time.

So what happens if you find yourself tangled in one of these combative conversations and emotions start running high? Start by focusing on how to disengage, even if you care about what the topic is. Employ general anger management and mindfulness techniques like counting to ten or concentrating on breathing. Relay the following to the other person, “I don’t want to argue. Let’s change the subject.” If they continue, say, “I don’t want to talk about this anymore. Let’s talk about something else.” You also have the option to walk away, hang up, or x-out.

If you really and truly feel that you need to convince someone you’re right (or that they’re wrong), you could relay, “I disagree with you. Explain why you believe this?” Once you ask, you must listen. Once they’re done with their point, and you still want to get them to see your perspective, ask them, “Are you willing to hear why I believe what I do?” Hopefully, your discussion can progress with understanding from there.

More specifically, proceed fairly and like a gentleman when trying to get your point across. Nothing is worse than engaging somebody in discourse, and then he starts pushing hot buttons & pulling punches. This behavior is absolutely not the way to proceed. A gentleman understands that he can get his point across and express his perspective calmly, composedly, and dignified. He plays fair and doesn’t hit below the belt.

Respect what the other person is saying, although you can refute it. Refusing to hear what the other person is saying is entirely ungentlemanly. Hear his point even if you don’t necessarily agree. Ask questions and acknowledge valid points.

This brings me to the point that when you refute, ensure you attack a point, not the person. What drives me nuts is when I hear or see people arguing when suddenly somebody attacks the other person. They may be debating the migration pattern of monarch butterflies when the other person calls the other person a profane name – what in the world does this have to do with the topic being debated? Stay on point, brother! Also, stick to FACTS while avoiding gossip, hearsay, and assumptions.

When engaging in a heated conversation, listen with an open mind. And when appropriate, admit you were wrong – and then apologize if / when appropriate. So often, we are fixated on being right (or ‘winning’) that we lose sight of maintaining the relationship and being reasonable. Don’t lose sight of being rational. A key to a healthy relationship is how you communicate and disagree together — the times you get along are easy!

Regardless of the debate or argument, maintaining a respectable image and your relationship with the other person are both much more important. When all else fails, you can always agree to disagree. Ultimately, pick your battles! Sometimes it’s okay to agree to disagree, and that’s okay because sometimes, there will not be a meeting of the minds.

With some debates, there’s no ‘winning.’ You may not be able to change the person’s mind, just like they’re not going to change your mind. So you’ll have to say, “I see your point, and hopefully, you can see mine. We are going to agree to disagree.” This approach is incredibly mature and gentlemanly, but … sometimes, a gentleman has to know when to walk away.

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