We put a lot of time and effort into winning, but we sometimes fail to recognise what “real” winning is as opposed to beating the other player.
What do we gain when we “win” an argument? Maybe it’s respect, a sense of accomplishment or the elation of demolishing a perspective that we believe to be false. What about when we lose an argument? We might feel humiliated, angry or like we’ve been misunderstood, misheard or mis-characterised. Very rarely do we think that our position might be wrong when we’ve lost an argument, even when the facts aren’t on our side. If anything we hold on tighter to our beliefs.
So often when we argue we focus on trying to win as opposed to finding truth and getting a result that we want. I’m always looking for what behaviour leads to the results that benefit me, the person I’m talking to and society as a whole. Using emotional manipulation or cheap arguments that lambaste or humiliate doesn’t help me to change minds, connect with people or improve a situation, but listening does.
When a supporter of marriage equality talks to someone who doesn’t support it, which of these is more likely to change their mind:
- “You’re a homophobe!”
- “I want to understand your point of view better. Could you tell me why you feel that way?”
If our goal is to “win” the argument and get the other person riled up to the point where the discussion breaks down, the first option should accomplish that.
If you want the other person to feel seen and heard, and open up dialogue where you have a chance to change their opinion, I think the second way is a much better method to accomplish that.
When one side wins an argument, more often than not, both sides lose.
When we ask questions, and work together to find the truth, we have a chance to change the world for the better, and that’s the win I’m looking for.