I’m writing this right before the election is over. I’ve seen a lot of things that we’ve been doing that I don’t like to see and I regret not doing this sooner. I’ve seen too much us versus them mentalities. And it seems here in America instead of deciding what’s really good for our country its really about rooting for a certain team: democrat or republican. And since the standards are so low this year I would’ve almost encouraged people to vote for a third party if only for the sake of making it more competitive. 2020 will certainly been seen in history as one of the craziest years of our time. And recently it has become a time where many of us are divided. But instead of avoiding our differences we need to confront them in the proper way. I think when we spend time with only the people that agree with us, we do ourselves a disservice and we may never know where the truth really lies. So, with that being said, here is my advice on how to argue with people:
- Don’t insult people
I had an english professor that had looked over my first essay of the year for college. I didn’t realize how much I was writing stuff that sounded condescending or insulting to other people. Now, I take what she has told me to heart and I try to fix old blog posts that come off that way. Insulting people isn’t an argument —it’s bullying. People need to argue in way that helps others —as well as ourselves— to stay on logical thoughts rather than emotional ones. We need to be using arguments against ideas and thoughts rather than using personal attacks. I’ve seen people says things like, “if you don’t like where our country is going, then you need to leave.” People also might tell others that certain groups are, “uneducated,” or “stupid.” Bullying people isn’t an argument, it’s just hurtful and if anything the person bullying others has only made their situation worse because once we’ve hurt someone most of the time the victim won’t really care about what they were really there to argue about. The discussion has no longer become about understanding each other, but putting each other down.
Too many people tend to ignore what the other person is saying. And they will try to talk about something else rather than talk about the topic the other person mentioned. My best advice for this is to make sure if we’re arguing about something we’ve already gone through the possible apects the opponent might have comebacks for. And to remind people when they are getting off topic or avoiding a question or statement all together.
3. Remember that ideologies are not a person
The perspectives of other people can change. People change religions, they change diets, hair colors, favorite foods etc. We can forget that we aren’t really arguing against people, but against the ideology they are favoring at the time. The whole point of arguing is trying to persuade that person to at least understand their side and maybe even join it. Making that person think that a certain ideology is their identity just puts them in a corner and its it harder for that person to see what the other side is really about.
4. Defining who the oppenent is without listening to their own definition
There are many arguments I’ve seen where someone will say, “I already know who are,” or, “I already know what you are.” But do we really? This kind of already goes with number 2. However, this specifically is a straw hat fallacy or taking what someone has said or might believe out of context. To avoid doing this, try making a statement of what you think that person believes and see if that person agrees with you or if in reality they define what they believe differently, allow them to elaborate.
5. Slow things down
We now live in world where people post things right away without thinking of the consequences of those actions. I’ve done this before in the past and sometimes I still do do those things today. But if we want to get better at arguing we cannot allow our impulses to control us. And we have to realize we shouldn’t being trying to fight people, but really just trying to get our point across. This is part of the reason why I like to write my arguments down instead of argue in person because it gives me more time to think and consider what I have to say. However, when arguing in person try to take a deep breath first to help slow things down.
6. Ask questions instead of making statements
Making statements instead of asking questions can make things more tense. Asking questions help to make arguments more open and thought provoking. When we make statements, we assuming that what we have said is true, even the person we are discussing those topics with may not agree with what we have said. Asking questions helps us to figure where the other person stands without telling them that certain things must be true.
7. Make jokes and take jokes
To ensure things don’t get too serious it is good to have jokes ready —and to also be able to take them. Remember that people that want to argue properly aren’t there to attack others personally. And being able to laugh makes it easier to see the other person’s perspective.
8. The Socratic Method
This is something I’ll probably go more in depth on in a different post. But to keep things simple for now I’ll list the three steps of this method: 1 Give a definition or opinion 2 Ask a question that shows an exception to that definition 3 Give a better definition or opinion. Doing this helps us to achieve a better understanding of a concept.
A lot of us just want to state our opinions. However, that’s not enough for a good agruement. We can’t find reality by just saying whatever we want it to be. And I’m not just talking about sources or studies. Those things also need to be analyzed. Sometimes articles or people use studies to prove a point even when they don’t fully understand or know the true extent of the bias behind it. I know I’m being hypocrite by saying by talking about using statements in argument. Since I advised against using them in number 6. But if we want to use statements we really have to know what we are talking about and analyze them on our own first. When we use statement we are asserting something to be true. This is where opponents have the opportunity to evaluate the premise for themselves and see if any logical fallacies were used in the statement.
10. Stop avoiding them
Religion taught me to avoid arguments like the plague. After versus like 2 Corinthians 5:7, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” tells Christians to not questions things(this is I’ll discuss more in depth later). When we don’t argue we do ourselves a disservice. How can we help ourselves find reality if we spend all day just finding ways to validate our own beliefs? Whether it be using propaganda or only being around people that agree with us — which is what cults and many religious groups do.