How to Argue

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cup-of-tea-01Frustrated by the ever-more-extreme level of division and discussion?  Also frustrated by the lack of enough tea in your life?

Me too.

So here’s some guidelines to restore sanity:

  1. First check yourself: are you at all open to new information?
    • No, I know I’m right: Stop. You are part of the problem. Your need to shout your position comes from either fear or anger.  Figure yourself out before engaging.  Perhaps a cup of tea will help you consider things properly.
    • Yes: good, you are one side of hopefully a two-sided discussion.
  2. Before you say anything, can you state the other side’s position in a way they would find acceptable?
    • No: Ask more questions until you can. People find it hard to listen until they have been heard.
    • Yes: Good job, you are not adding to the problem.
  3. Can you state the problems with their position without resulting to name calling?
    • No: Perhaps a cup of tea might help? Come back and try again later.
    • Yes: Excellent, you are less likely to alienate them for unrelated reasons.
  4. Can you state your position a way that invites them to consider your side and keeps them from feeling stupid or attacked?
    • No, they are obviously stupid: Okay sparky, back to the tea for you.
    • Yes: Good, the only way someone will be open to change is if there’s a welcome and open door for it.
  5. Can provide backup (preferably unbiased) for your position?
    • No: Perhaps you need to state your position as an opinion then, and keep an open mind to changing your opinion.
    • Yes: Well done, we are on stable ground here.
  6. Have they seen the light of your position and are considering it?
    • No: Go back to asking questions so you can understand why not. Questions are the only thing that inspire change.
    • Yes: Great, now be absolutely sure to not mock their previous stance. Change is hard and you must be welcoming and nurturing, not boastful.
  7. Have you stated your position, provided backup reference, and they still won’t change their mind?
    • Yes: you might be dealing with someone who didn’t pass step one on this list.  I recommend you have some tea instead of continuing.

If everyone followed this lovely checklist we might make some real progress.

Now I’m off to make some tea.

Hey, you trippin or what?

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