Have you ever found yourself in an argument with someone, that even though you are winning, you are exhausted?
I have recently been reading a fantastic self development classic, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. This book is packed with so many obvious challenges and pointers on how to do exactly what the title says. One of the challenges that I have immersed myself with is, don’t argue. The great author says;
“Why prove to a man he is wrong? Is that going to make him like you? Why not let him save face? He didn’t ask for your opinion. He didn’t want it. Why argue with him? You can’t win an argument, because if you lose, you lose it; and if you win it, you lose it. Why? You will feel fine. But what about him? You have made him feel inferior, you hurt his pride, insult his intelligence, his judgment, and his self-respect, and he’ll resent your triumph. That will make him strike back, but it will never make him want to change his mind. A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” Dale Carnegie
I have now read this book for the third time and coming back to this again, I have decided to practice this in all aspects of my life and the results have been fantastic.
My wife and I have been married for 6 years and have been together for 9 years. I am very blessed to have her by my side as she challenges me like no one else does. She is an academic with a keen eye for detail, I am the polar opposite. We are both wolves when it comes to making ourselves heard and understood. This may benefit us in our work and adventures, it does not however, make for an arguement free household.
We have always enjoyed debate with one another, but as we have settled into marriage, we have found that the debate can quickly turn into an argument and then as Dale Carnegie says, “if you lose, you lose it; and if you win it, you lose it”
I decided to take the cold turkey approach to disengaging in arguments with my wife. This was hard as it had become so normal. The way I have dealt with the urge to argue is to turn the focus onto her, rather than hold my own stance on the matter. I focused on the following truths;
- I love my wife, so much so we are married.
- I care about her feelings and wellbeing.
- Winning an argument may win me ‘Pride Points’ but they may come from hers.
- She has a different point of view, and as history has proved, it is often very valuable and I can learn from it.
- She is very intelligent and doesn’t engage in an argument unless she is confident in her stance.
- I love my wife, so much so we are STILL married.
This may sound cheesy, but it implementing this has made a huge difference to our interactions. It has also allowed me to invest myself in her without it feeling like a burden. In return she has been very willing to listen and consider my approach, and on more than one occasion, has agreed with me wholeheartedly. We are able to move into things in agreement and of a single mind and this allows for a great deal more peace in our relationship, amongst strife in our lives. I am happier for doing it, and she appears to be enjoying the teamwork that we have created.
My work involves me dealing with businesses that were customers and now owe money. There are 3 main reasons why this would lead into an open ground for arguments;
- They dont have the money and are avoiding me
- They have money and are avoiding me
- They have a complaint or problem and are sure they are right
Just like marriage, in work, we can be lead into all too many environments where we feel justified to argue. We argue in defence of the company we represent, we argue in defence of ourselves and our pride, and we argue about different sides of the same coin. However, following an argument in your workplace, whether win or lose you, you are left with a little less energy. You need energy to feel motivated, and you need to feel motivated to perform at your best, and when you are not performing at your best you certainly cannot achieve the goals and expectations set before you.
I decided to take the same approach to dealing with my own urge to argue in work as I did in my marriage. I committed to stop arguing, and I committed to doing this by considering the customer’s point of view and answering for the following truths;
- I care about the customer as a person.
- I care about the customer having a good experience with my PERSONAL BRAND.
- I care about the customer having a good experience with the company’s brand.
- The customer has a reason for how they feel,and I would like to understand it.
- I care about the customer feeling that someone wants to solve their problem.
- I would like to have someone treat me well, despite the circumstance.
- I care about people and therefore I care about the customer.
This has by far changed my mind towards the power of positivity more than anything I have learned up until now. My interactions have become longer, but far more fruitful. My results at work improve everyday, my relationships with colleagues also improves everyday. I am able to remain positive while they are down and negative, and I have even been able to be a catalyst of positive change on days where the general demeanor is low. Most importantly I haven’t left work, regardless of how busy we have been, feeling defeated by work.
I cannot speak for everyone, and I am sure there are people who will struggle to see the value in trying this. I know there will be people who will struggle to come to terms with the idea of “Caring” for strangers, especially debtors. I did as well, but like anything that you struggle with I would challenge you to confront the reasons. Once you have asked yourself “Why” above every aspect, and the reasons for the reasons you will more than likely be faced with one of these fundamental obstacles.;
These are common in all of us, and deserve our attention. Once you can understand your real fears and the source of your pride, you will be able to clear your closet of the rubbish you don’t need. You can then repack your heart and redirect your feelings towards positivity and sustainable happiness.
Its amazing what a difference simply changing how YOU think about others, creates happiness for you. You can achieve this too and I would suggest you take some time to think about how much you argue, and perhaps even try the route I took to quitting arguing.
Thanks for reading!
Here is a link to the book I quoted above, it is a very valuable investment in time and money.