"Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference…" Mark Twain
Arguing is an indication that someone wants to communicate something close to one's heart. While many issues are resolved through peaceful discussion, some conflicts can provoke extremely strong emotions.
I find that being on the outside of an argument has its advantages.
Arguing can be fun, but mostly they are disputes in which reason or reasons are offered in proof and expressed in words as a way to convince someone to pick one side or another of an issue.
A few days ago I listened to my children arguing over whose turn it was to do the dishes.
"You are supposed to do them," my daughter growled at her brother.
"I am not, you are supposed to," my son yelled back.
After 20 minutes, I'd had enough.
"Gees guys, we all agreed on the chores over four months ago," I interrupted the intelligent conversation. I proceeded to send my daughter in to do the dishes and my son to do the laundry. "Stop bickering over nothing."
Even when one conflict ends another arises in other places.
While recently reading the comments left on The Brazil Times website, I discovered that, while many are very insightful and great reading, there are times when people start "arguments" over weird things just to have something to do.
Often, I can't help but wonder if it is really worth the effort put forth by the guilty parties?
I've learned one thing in my lifetime: When dealing with other human beings, disagreements are bound to happen in any relationship that lasts for more than a few minutes, hours or days.
A person who yells and screams thinks they are offering an argument, but in actuality they are only providing assertions or control tactics over the person they are yelling at. A lot of people think an argument is a verbal fight, but it isn't. To do it right, it's important for people to understand what an argument is and is not. (Oh, by the way, Internet etiquette says a person who types in all capital letters is YELLING!)
I believe the purest explanation of what an argument is comes from a character in a sketch by Monty Python known as the Argument Clinic:
"An argument is a connected series of statements intended to establish a definite proposition. ... an argument is an intellectual process ... contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of anything the other person says."
For those readers who are curious about this classic comedy sketch or just want to see it in its entirety again, log on to the youtube site. A high-quality version is located at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3HaRFBSq....
Let's be honest, if two people make it past "Hello," sooner or later they will find something to disagree upon.
What may seem to be the end of the universe to one person may be only a minor glitch to someone else, even if both agree there is a problem.
My family taught me from early childhood that the measure of a person's character helps determine how they resolve differences. And I've learned there are as many characters as there are different types of people in the world.
The main problem everyone faces in an argument is identifying who your opponent is. What's worse, is figuring out which one of the characters you are. Several that my grandmother helped me identify, and I've played the role of once or twice in my lifetime, are as follows:
* If someone says they never disagree and never argue, according to my family, you need to worry about that person because they are "flip floppers." My grandparents, who enjoyed the prospect of a good argument, always said that someone who never disagrees with someone either doesn't care enough about the problem or the other people involved to take the time and energy to disagree. My Papo Lashbrook said these people have a tendency to get lost in the world without any "intestinal fortitude" to fall back upon,
* "Doormats" are people who just lie down and don't fight for their opinion because it's easier to just get along and not have conflict. Without the backbone to debate an original thought process, these people will usually end up agreeing that the knife being used to stab them in the back is too dull. Although I've known this since a small child, I've done this several times which ended in terrible consequences,
* "Scrappers" love a good fight no matter what, wanting to stir the proverbial "pot of discontent." My Grandmother Iva used to say that my grandfather, who loved to scrap over politics, was not handed silver spoons at his birth, but he was given sticks so he could stir "things" up. I like to scrap, but not politics. Let's argue the finer points of Looney Tunes versus today's Anime or whether a steak is better flame broiled or grilled,
* "Cleansers" get into disagreements not for argument's sake or to prove a point, but so they can lay blame and guilt on someone else to clear themselves of responsibility and to clear their conscious. The problem when arguing with a person like this is that they appear relatively calm and considerate, yet issues fester into an anger that will eventually erupt into explosive confrontations, usually over something trivial.
I was recently sent a link to an online test that evaluates a person's arguing style. After 43 questions, it is amazing to find out so much. The test said that I didn't really argue but try to arrange for solutions when there are issues of conflict.
Resolution through peaceful discussion is a great way to be a parent, spouse and friend or a citizen. I believe communication in all its forms helps solve conflicts and can create compassionate, fulfilling and intimate relationships on all levels of human interaction.
Even on the Internet.