Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Do Not Argue

I have very recently come into a fantastic piece of wisdom. It came as a shock to a man who loves words, but there is almost nothing accomplished by argument or debate. Since nothing can be gained there is no point in wasting time on it. In point of fact, the effort you waste on argument could be better used to accomplish your goals.
This is counter to everything about my logical, pragmatic nature. I am reasonable. I enjoy being reasoned with. I enjoy the art of conversational controversy because of this. The argument of the "opposing" side is often educational. I either realize there is another perspective worth considering or I gain an insight into the psychology of the person presenting their side. This receipt of information is a win-win.
Until recently, I believed there was an advantage in presenting the counterpoint. In most cases, this is completely wrong. The nature of humans is to work to their own self-interest. Because of this, most people use an argument as a gambit to muddy the waters of an issue and then act the same way they had intended before the debate began. All the conversations accomplish is to declare the opposition. You are exposing your own perspective. This is rarely to your own benefit.
Google defines an argument as:
   1.an exchange of diverging or opposite views, typically a heated or angry one.
   2.a reason or set of reasons given with the aim of persuading others that an action or idea is right or wrong.
When you are trying to accomplish a goal, why would you spend effort on anyone with opposing views? Instead, when someone states their opposition unless their authority over you dictates otherwise, it saves time and effort to simply ignore them, If the opposition has sufficient authority over you it is likely better to either abandon your position or forge ahead and ask forgiveness rather than permission. By doing this, you will prove that you were either right or wrong with a supreme economy of words. Either way, you save showing the disrespect of stating or repeating your opinion and the reasons you think it is correct.
Being right is normally a matter of showing rather than telling. If you are in the position of advising someone of the misstep they are about to make, it is often better to stand back and allow the mistake to come to pass than causing a breach of courtesy in arguing something the other person has already made their mind up to. Your actions will prove out right in their own time. If you fail, saving the argument prevents the righteous party from having the ability to say," I told you so." No one enjoys that.
An interesting side effect of this discovery is that argument does have one purpose. It can so completely cloud an issue with divisiveness and emotion that the event or idea you are opposing may never actually come to pass. You can tie up your opponent's efforts and time so thoroughly that they are too mentally, emotionally, or even physically exhausted to put in the effort required to see things through to the end. An argument used this way isn't truly about the wordplay. It is about strategic application of force.
Since this epiphany, I find myself much less tired. I am not involved in any needless conversation. I am not defending my plans against those that disagree. This extra energy allows me to get more done. This is the best argument against arguing.
Incidentally, this is Rule #18.
Unless it is for entertainment or distraction, do not argue.

 

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