Why arguing is good

Writing Arguments: Purposes of Argument

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Why do we write argument essays? This form of writing may be challenging but it will strengthen your writing skills. An argument has two purposes:

Because people don’t always agree on a single point of view, an effectively worded argument helps us arrive at what is fair or true. It is used to settle disputes and discover truth. Instructors assign argumentative writing so students can learn to examine their own and others’ ideas in a careful, methodical way. 

Argument teaches us how to evaluate conflicting claims and judge evidence and methods of investigation. Argument helps us learn to clarify our thoughts and articulate them accurately. Arguments also consider the ideas of others in a respectful and critical manner.

The Benefits of Arguing | Psychology Today

Conflict and arguments are often seen as negative and things to be avoided. Many people see conflict as reflective of a “crack” in a relationship or a sign that a relationship is in trouble. Yet research suggests that the process of conflict and arguing facilitates talk and awareness of another’s perspective. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind that conflict and arguing can be very beneficial to the health of friendships and romantic relationships.

In particular, facing the need to argue with a close other can be energizing and motivating—the topics that bring about arguments remind us of what is important to us, from our core values to our goals for a given day. Arguments also give us the opportunity to think about and voice how we feel about our relationships and “who we are” as friends or dating partners.

Source: Rosesweet/Shutterstock

So the first tip is to remember that conflict should not be seen as a threat—rather, it is an event that can help your relationship evolve and grow and help you get to know your partner better. You can also learn about yourself in the process.

The second tip is that it's important to recognize when you are “ready” to argue. One of the biggest mistakes that friends and couples face is arguing when emotions are too raw or if they are not open to listening to the other person’s side of an issue. Listening does not mean acceptance—listening means that you are available to understand a partner’s perspective. Therefore, it may not be the best time to have an argument as soon as an issue comes up if you know that you are not going to be your most rational self. Schedule a time when you can both focus on the issue at hand without letting emotions or other distractions get in the way.

The third tip is to be flexible during an argument. A lot of us go into conflicts or arguments with expectations about how things “should” turn out. But the exciting dynamic of communication is that our partners have the power to change our opinions or attitudes. And we should be open to change based on learning about a partner’s view of a situation. This does not mean that we should always bend to the will of another, but rather, we should be open to the possibility that changing our position is okay.

The fourth tip is to remember that we are all vulnerable. Even if a close relationship partner acts like he or she knows it all, we all question ourselves at times. We all have experiences that influence the way we approach arguments. But we should also be open to changing the way we do things. If we change ourselves, our partners will be more likely to change as well.

Yet while we may recognize that we are vulnerable (even it is just to ourselves), it can be even more difficult to remember that our partners act out of vulnerability too. We often expect our partners to be “all-knowing” or “perfect” in ways that we know we cannot achieve.

On the flip side, we sometimes think that partners “just don’t get it” or are acting like “just a typical man/woman.” It is easy to make snap judgments about what a partner “should” know. But an important part of effectively managing arguments is to take time to think about and appreciate a partner’s perspective.

No matter what your assumptions, it is important to stop and think about your needs, a partner’s needs, and what you need together to keep your friendship or romantic relationship alive.

How to learn to argue with maximum benefit

Varvara Grankova

I once gave a speech at a company that was recently acquired, since then the number of employees has grown from 300 people to 1400. And when I asked the leaders of the acquired company what they have the hardest time, it turned out that they are worried about how often employees quarrel. Prior to the deal, the company had a contentious culture, but with the expansion of the workforce and new owners, there was a danger that the model might not be productive. nine0003

I replied that arguing is useful, it can be the key to success if people learn to adequately defend their point of view.

Research shows that most mergers and acquisitions fail not because of internal conflicts, but because of the silence that grows out of fear of conflict. As in a love relationship: silence is a much stronger signal of an impending breakup than a quarrel.

Differences in mindset and disagreements can be uncomfortable, but they are more likely to lead partners and the team to progress, innovation, and breakthrough ideas than consensus and conversations in which people say something completely different from what they think. nine0003

US senators were born at different times in 50 different states, so obviously they must have different points of view. And they argue. But the way they do it is pure intellectual fraud. The "rules" that govern political debate, especially on television, do not encourage real discussion and productive dialogue.

Unfortunately, most of us fall into the same traps. We're always trying to "win" to show ourselves or the band we represent in a favorable light. Therefore, we ignore logical arguments and evidence that goes against our beliefs. Therefore, we only quarrel, and do not make real progress. nine0003

By teaching people the right debating skills, we can make a difference and move on to effective exchange of ideas and effective debate. Here's how to do it.

Remember that everyone is on the same team. Arguments usually have one of three goals: to convince others that they are right, to defeat the opponent, and to find the best solution together. It is the third variety that allows you to get the most out of the cognitive diversity of the group. To push people in this direction, prepare the ground: define a common goal, create an atmosphere of exploration, and emphasize that all participants are on the same side of the barricades. nine0003

1. We are here to explore the problem as allies, not adversaries.

2. Our common goal is to find the best solution.

3. We welcome all opinions expressed to this end.

4. There are no winners: the team will win if we all make progress.

5. All participants are equal, we do not give priority to anyone's point of view.

Stick to facts, logic and topic. Consistency is one of the most complex and important elements of a productive discussion. Arguments often end in nothing: people tend to be defensive, and to do this they unconsciously hold on to false conclusions, evade questions, manipulate the facts, sometimes openly deceive or change the subject in order to strengthen their positions and distract those who argue with them from bringing counterarguments. nine0003

Ask participants to follow the rules:

■ Don't argue about who cares the most, shouts the loudest, has the most influence, or is the best at formulating,

■ Don't use tricky rhetoric,

■ Remember there is a difference between facts and their interpretations (the stories people tell about those facts),

■ find logical errors and correct them,

■ check the facts for accuracy and analyze the quality of the evidence, do not be content with their mere presence,

■ If the topic has shifted, acknowledge it and start over.

Don't get personal. Arguing cannot be effective when people feel that others are attacking them and their ideas. Emotions and ego take over, the participants in the discussion can no longer adequately assess the opposite point of view, and this reduces the chances of finding an innovative solution and coping with the problem. In order for the discussion not to deviate from the course, it is necessary to depersonalize the arguments.

In other words:

■ don't get personal or attack anyone in particular,

■ ask questions about the person's ideas, not their personality. Instead of asking "How can you believe that?" or “How can you not understand this?” – ask a question that begins with the word “what”, for example: “What makes you think so?” or “What led you to that conclusion?”,

■ Don't forget the presumption of innocence. Assume that all participants in the dispute are guided by good intentions,

■ Don't be afraid to change your mind,

■ Reward people for moving the group forward, not for being "right."

Be humble. For a debate to be truly productive, participants must learn to respect all points of view and change opinions where necessary. Psychologists call this intellectual humility, and it is one of the key skills of a good leader and productive debater. Here's how to follow this rule:

■ don't take it personally,

■ listen and respect each person and their point of view, even if you disagree,

■ be able to admit when you're wrong and praise the other for a good argument,

■ be curious. Even bad ideas can be useful; they can help in the search for new and better solutions.

It is important that the participants in any disputes and debates - whether it be a personal meeting over a cup of coffee or a public discussion in a conference room - adhere to these rules. However, it is the leaders (or the most authoritative people in the organization) who should be the first to lead by example. nine0003

The key to effective problem solving is not to have everyone agree with each other. The secret is to disagree with each other, but do it right.

About the author: Shane Snow is the author of Dream Teams: Working Together Without Falling Apart and other works where he applies science to entrepreneurial practice

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Why we don't know how to argue properly

Why we don't know how to argue properly | Big Ideas Communications
Andrey Sharonov
Photo: Shannon Litt / Unsplash

I remember how my parents quarreled in my childhood - not very often, but significant: my father, anticipating an unpleasant conversation, pouted, sternly and showed that the last thing he would do in this world - try to negotiate. And in protest, he refused the family dinner and went to another room. nine0003

I took it over without even noticing — I didn't defiantly refuse dinner, of course, but I also played the silent game. And it took a long time to get out of this state. What was going on in my head at such moments shows how easy it is to get a moral indulgence for any behavior: “I do not argue not from weakness, but because I am offended, it is beneath my dignity to negotiate.” And this, of course, was quite a dead end situation, for which I am still ashamed. Many years passed before I realized that silence is a sign of weakness, a form of disrespect for a partner and shifting responsibility for the conflict to him. nine0003

Years later, I also often caught myself that at moments when the atmosphere in the meeting rooms was tense and it was impossible to bring positions closer, I really wanted to stop this process: either abandon the discussion, or break loose, give free rein to emotions and slide into an ordinary quarrel . This did not lead to positive results, so at some point I forced myself to analyze my behavior and learned to drag myself into difficult conversations that require a lot of nervous energy and are difficult both psychologically and physically. nine0003

I understood a few things: we don't know how to distinguish between a dispute and a quarrel, and we don't know how to argue correctly, if only because no one specifically teaches us this. The maximum that you can count on is role models of loved ones. In most cases, once inside a complex conversation, we want to prove our case and switch from the object of the dispute to the subject. It's the easiest thing to do, it's our emotions that provoke us, and it's usually the easiest solution.

This is clearly seen in the style of rhetoric in public space. At all levels, we see examples of "going personal" and looking for someone to blame. It is not what the person said or did that is discussed and condemned, but he himself, the label of the “enemy” is immediately hung on him. Individuals are either slandered or used as a threat and a pretext for mobilization. nine0003

It turns out such Bolshevism: whoever is not with us is against us. Black or white, friend or foe. If we don't like your position, then we don't like you. From the outside, watching especially aggressive attacks in a public discussion, it seems that the attacker acts this way because the presence of a different opinion in his life threatens his personal safety.

Why empathy is beneficial

The world has long been ambiguous and definitely not binary. The fact that it is easier for us to reduce discussions to concepts of win / lose is our bad habit, leading both to bad relationships and narrowing our choices. nine0003

This is not an abstract reality, this is the behavior of others, colleagues, and even ourselves — and, unfortunately, I am far from an exception here. To understand how this applies to you personally, answer a few questions.

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About the author

Andrey Sharonov — Professor, General Director of the Alliance for Sustainable Development.

Learn more