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Learn to Argue Productively

The Realms Of An Argument

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

Learn to Argue Productively

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/15/smarter-living/learn-to-argue-productively.html

nytimes.com

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Key Ideas

The Realms Of An Argument

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.

Cognitive Dissonance

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.

Ask Questions And Listen

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.

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.

After The Fire

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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In a disagreement, often certain crucial information isn't available or isn't clearly understood by either person. We need to ask ourselves if:

  • The argument is about something that can be verified.
  • If it matters to you (meaningful).
  • If it is useful.
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    Constructive engagement
    Constructive engagement

    Constructive engagement involves cultivating goodwill between the parties involved.

    Fishbowl discussions

    This exercise involves members of one party sitting in a circle with the other group sitting around them. The outside group listens quietly while the inside group answers a set of questions.

    After each side answered and listened, the moderator brings them together for conversations about what everyone learned. Data suggests that despite strong views, participants change their attitude toward one another for the better.

    Disagreement

    We regularly find ourselves engaging with people whose core beliefs and values differ from our own. We might want to convince them to adopt our point of view, but this can lead to unproductive conflict.

    However, people who disagree passionately can be easily trained to have productive interactions.

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    Straw man arguments

    A straw man argument is a misrepresentation of an opinion or viewpoint, designed to be as easy as possible to contradict.

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    Hollow man arguments

    This is a weak case (similar to the Straw man arguments) attributed to a non-existent group: Someone will fabricate a viewpoint that is easy to contradict, then claim it was made by a group they disagree with. Arguing against an opponent which doesn’t exist is a pretty easy way to win any debate.

    People who use hollow man arguments will often use vague, non-specific language without explicitly giving any sources or stating who their opponent is.

    Iron man argument

    It is designed to be resistant to attacks by a defier.There arguments are difficult to avoid because they have a lot of overlap with legitimate debate techniques.

    A person using an iron man argument will most likely make their own viewpoint so vague that nothing anyone says about it can weaken it. They’ll use jargon and imprecise terms. This means they can claim anyone who disagrees didn’t understand them, or they’ll rephrase their argument multiple times.

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    Seek to understand

    People tend to disagree when they don't understand each other. That does not mean you have to agree, just that you're open to hearing them out.

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    Look beyond your own triggers

    Whatever may have happened in your past, you have to find a way to get past your triggers and see that you're in a new situation with a person who doesn't mean you harm. What's triggered is usually fear and awareness of one's limitations.

    Look for similarities, not differences

    Look for common ground. When you concentrate on differences the space grows wider, but when you seek out what you have in common it helps bridge the gap.

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    Identities and core beliefs

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    Do the work required

    Rather than be opinionated, we should strive to be informed.

    We should know the other side’s argument better than they know theirs. Instead of attacking a straw man, aim to knock down the strongest version of an argument you disagree with.

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    • Using literary techniques for turning simple stories into memorable works of art.
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    • Delivery: matters as much as the content.
    • Imagery:  the brain “lights up” in reacting to imagery, truly transporting the reader to the events being described. 
    • Realism: poeple need a “human” element in the story that is easy for them to imagine.
    • Structure: people prefer stories that follow a logical manner.
    • Context: significant impact on the persuasiveness of a story.
    • Audience: determine who you don’t want reading your content along with who you do.
    Interpersonal Issues

    When it happens in the workplace, it can reduce productivity and make a dent in morale. 

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    Types of Interpersonal Conflict
    • Policy Conflicts: disagreements about how to deal with a situation that affects both parties. 
    • Value Conflicts: they are typically pretty difficult to resolve because they are more ingrained.
    • Ego Conflicts: losing an argument, or being thought of as wrong, can actually damage a person’s self-esteem. This is like a power struggle.
    What Causes Interpersonal Conflict
    • Frustration and stress
    • Misunderstandings
    • Lack of planning
    • Bad staff selection
    • Poor Communication

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    Make small talk

    You communicate a genuine interest when you inquire or listen to the small details that make up your partner’s day. It’s those insignificant moments that make up the reality of our lives.

    Shared experiences
    We feel closer to others when we can talk about the experiences we have in common. 

    Words are not necessary for shared feelings to improve a relationship. Just doing something at the same time—riding bikes, watching a movie, or eating dessert, intensifies both pleasant and unpleasant experiences.

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    Knowing that you are being heard is one of the experiences most likely to cement a feeling of connection to another. 

    Use a technique called “active listening” - a form of listening in which you acknowledge that you understand what is being said. 

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