Arguments, Friends, Family & Your Character

In regards to our friends and family who know us well, our ability to deal with arguments and effectively persuade people will also depend on how other people perceive our character. We can take steps to ensure people who know us listen to us when we talk, rather than shrug us aside.

We all have at least one person in our family or friendship group who we almost perceive as a lost cause – it might be a bigoted grandparent whose opinions are too cemented to change, a friend who has the habit of frequently lying or a gossip monger who we perhaps cannot trust. We might still love and befriend these people, but their ability to influence us, persuade us and argue their ideas to us is greatly degraded due to how they present themselves. Likewise, we, in turn, can make ourselves a person someone will listen to and carefully consider, or a person whose ideas just aren’t even worth considering.

Firstly, it’s important to cut out the gossip. People love to gossip, but it undermines our ability to trust people. Whenever we gossip to someone, or they gossip to us, an implicit assumption is that this person will gossip about you in turn and that you will gossip about them. Above and beyond a lack of trust, gossiping is also unreliable and petty. Someone who has heard a rumor through the grapevine doesn’t have a good source of information to base their opinion on and this leads to a lack of credibility. After all, if someone credits an unproven rumor, how much evidence or proof have they considered when forming their own opinions?

Similarly, if someone is focused on petty details and petty gossip, people will pay less attention when they want to speak their mind on something that matters to them. People perceive the character of gossipers as trite and trivial, due to their topic of conversation.

Additionally, don’t judge people, at least not while you are talking to them. We all have some ability to judge whether an action is right or wrong, but this is different from judging a person as being right or wrong, good or bad and so on. It’s hard to have a conversation when being judged and a person who is on the receiving end will become defensive and stop listening to your ideas.

Avoid being overly negative. People find negativity draining, and it’s hard to tolerate and engage with people who are unnecessarily negative. Furthermore, a shroud of negativity biases your opinions and ideas and can make you less persuasive due being overly pessimistic. Don’t ignore your feelings if you do feel negative often, but learn to deal with them through positive thinking and other means.

Similarly, avoid complaining. For the most part, all complaining does is share negativity – it makes other people unhappy and discontent because you are too. If someone perceives you as a ‘complainer’ then they will do their best to avoid giving you any cause to complain, which often involves shutting themselves away from you and not showing their true feelings.

Excuses are also poison to your ability to be respected and therefore have weighty arguments. If you never take any responsibility for things that are your fault, people will not take you seriously. Furthermore, they will avoid talking to you about anything that could involve putting blame and fault as your doorstep because they know you will not accept it. Therefore your ability to communicate is diminished and your ability to get your point across ruined.

As you might expect, lying also hurts how people perceive you. If people just cannot trust your ability to tell the truth then you will have no persuasive power over them whatsoever. Furthermore, depending on how you lie, other people might also recognize other character faults within you, such as insecurity.

Finally, avoid presenting your opinions as gospel. Recognize that certain things are fact, and certain things are opinions. If you try to present your opinions as facts, people will think of you as arrogant and they will also turn away from everything you say, even if some of your opinions do have some merit. Presenting your opinions as facts also shuts down people who disagree with you, which in turn hurts your ability to persuade and argue.

Whilst on the topic of friends and family, it’s important to note there are some differences to how you want to approach an argument with a friend and an argument with a family member. We might love our family members, but we don’t get to choose them. Who we consider our friends is entirely up to us and we have more control over how to choose to spend our time with them.

As a result, when arguing with friends, sometimes it’s just better to let issues go. You can agree to disagree and just avoid talking about politics or opinions which cause conflict. Furthermore, if you do irritate each other, you can give your friend space so you can both cool off. After a while, if your friendship is strong, both people will probably be ready to just hang out together once more, letting old grievances past.

With family members, inter-personal issues might have a deeper bearing on your life and therefore might need an outright resolution. Our parents and grandparents can have a huge influence over us and having them accept our ideas or be at peace with our decisions is often important to us – it can be incredibly hard to accept diverging opinions on vital matters. Likewise, when we have a problem with a family member, it can spill over into family affairs and holidays, souring the atmosphere for everyone involved.

Therefore, when dealing with conflict and arguments regarding family, be more willing to tactfully work towards resolution, rather than just forgetting. By this stage in the guide you should already be familiar with the tools at your disposal to manage arguments; it’s just a matter of applying them with grace and skill.


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