There are three different realms of an argument:

  • Head-based arguments are about the truth, based on facts and verifiable information.
  • Heart-based arguments are about meaning, personal taste and moral values.
  • Hand-based arguments are about usefulness and practicality.

Being able to distinguish between the three realms, and categorizing your argument stand can help you find common ground and end the argument in a productive way.

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Learn to Argue Productively

nytimes.com

Pay close attention to what ‘spikes’ up your emotions, those triggers that are felt when someone challenges you, or provides you with information that is new to you or does not align with your reality. 

This cognitive dissonance (the state of holding two or more contradictory beliefs) may be your chance to update your expectations, instead of making the world fit in them.

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When you're having an argument, there are two different views involved, and maybe two different realities. Instead of making it a black and white, right or wrong argument, try to ask genuine questions to help you understand what the other person is thinking.

Calm down, create mental space, and have a pleasant and relaxing disagreement, after you take the time to listen to the other person's point of view, instead of reacting impulsively or angrily.

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Summarize What You Understand

Other people may have blind spots and one way to make them understand what you understand is to say to them, ‘So, As I understand, what you are saying is essentially this’ and summarize their position to them.

If your argument hasn’t yet gone in the irrational territory, this will work to have clarity regarding the core matter.

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You cannot win a persistent argument while being in that fight due to heightened emotions and a high chance of stepping in a verbal minefield. Better to discuss it later when you are in a different setting, like a dinner date, talking in a relaxed manner so as to not start any new argument.

Having productive arguments is hard, but it is always good to keep trying.

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