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It's Impossible to Win an Argument, Care to Argue That?

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Let's say that you are at that treacherous family reunion and there's that smart ass uncle of yours. He seems to know it all and you usually just let it slide. On this particular day he decides to bring up something that you know to be absolutely false and you decide to speak up and let him know that he is wrong. 

Let's come up with an example for the sake of the story. He says that the Philippines are not part of Asia. You tell him that they are. He argues against it. You ask him to name the 7 continents and he does. You then ask him if the Philippines belong to Asia and he stammers and says that it is in fact, it's own (whatever that may mean to him). You get out a map, you Google, you enforce the other family members to back you and eventually he caves and admits that he was wrong.

Triumph! You won! You're gloating and if you had it your way fireworks would shoot in the sky to celebrate your victory!

Now, when you come out of this fantasy that you've "won", take a look around. That jolly uncle of yours that takes great pride in his knowledge and stories is now looking down at his empty beer bottle quietly, swivelling his finger around the top of it thinking of what a fool he was just made out to be. He's embarrassed and upset.

His wife (your aunt) is scrambling to get him another beer and maybe a plate of food to cheer him up. His kids (your cousins) just witnessed their dad (the one they look up to as their male figure) be shot down and proven wrong. The overall mood is a little less cheerful and the day will of course continue and laughs will return, but there is one person that will think of what happened today before he falls asleep tonight and that's your uncle.

Do you think this creates him having positive feelings towards you or negative? What did you truly gain by proving him wrong?

This applies to any situation really, the co-worker, the spouse, the waiter. It's up to us to decide how to handle these situations. When the pot becomes stirred and differences arise the very best thing we can do is first apologize, even when we are not wrong. No matter what, make "I'm sorry" a normal part of your vocabulary. "I'm sorry you're upset", "I'm sorry I made you feel that way", "I'm sorry I forgot to take the trash out".

The moment we acknowledge that we are wrong (even when we know we aren't) their guard is down.

It doesn't hurt anything to let things go sometimes, to just apologize and move on. "Oh, Idaho ISN'T part of the United States? I am sorry, I didn't know that." Let someone else come along to make that person feel like crap, but don't let it be you because it won't do you any good and as we know, you won't "win". 

Bree Olson

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