How To Stop Arguing? – Part 2: By Dr. Ram Chandran
The Desire to “Win The Argument”
Our desire to win an argument is embedded in our survival instinct. For many people, losing in a situation is truly a traumatic event. When life is viewed rigidly, options are seen as mutually exclusive. For someone to win, another has to lose.
In general, in an argument we like to take positions that are usually opposite to each other. While engaging in an argument we tend to think that we are always more “right” than those who take a different position. Arguments arise when we are not willing to consider others’ position as potentially being valid.
This is what is known as the right/wrong paradigm. The right/wrong paradigm can produce three possible outcomes: (1) proven right, (2) proven wrong, or (3) avoiding to be wrong.
While there may be a short term feeling of satisfaction when we think that we have convinced someone else is wrong, arguments rarely will lead us to long term gratification.
Everyone in an argument wants to be “right” and tries hard to avoid being “wrong.” This may explain why no one is actually listening.
It is inevitable that we like to choose one of these two options: We either feel obligated to forfeit our position, or we refuse to give in and will fight harder and harder.
The first option leads to resentment because though we gave in, we are not totally convinced of the other position. The winner also feels at a loss because the winner also was not fully “convinced.”
The second option leads to “polarization,” where two opposing parties find themselves in an egoistic self-fulfilling vicious cycle and take shelter at opposite ends of the “pole.” The more one party insists on a position, it encourages the other party to fight harder to be right and to resist being proven wrong.
After several cycles of this polarization, arguments escalate and can become hurtful. This is when people say and do things they later regret. There is certainly no winner here. In the world of “right/wrong,” there will be never any real winners. And if there can be no real winner, then why should we choose to get involved in a losing game?
Ultimately, we need to reflect on our desire to win an argument. Sometimes we can win an argument but lose our harmony and peace of mind. What to do?
Read Part 3!