“Discussion is an exchange of knowledge; an argument an exchange of ignorance.” – Robert Quillen
Daily Nugget of Gold 1195
A Better Way
Our discussion last time centered on why we ought not insist that we are right when discussing (arguing) with other people and constantly look to find evidence that another person is “wrong” even if they are. We all like to “be right” when we discuss anything, don’t we? There in lies a clue as to how we can get along better if we aren’t making it a prime objective to prove others wrong. If they like to be right, too- then doesn’t that mean that if we try and force the issue, we’re going to hurt their feelings? Isn’t that more likely to build animosity with them rather than friendship?
If we’re right and we know it- let’s at least open to the possibility that we could be wrong. In Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography he pointed out that he was coached into doing this by a wise Quaker mentor he had. The Quaker said something to the effect of, “Ben, your opinions have a slap in them for everyone you meet, so much so that even your friends don’t enjoy your company!” Ben later extolled the virtues of voicing the possibility we could be wrong as softening the other person up to the idea that they may be wrong as well, and also saved much embarrassment in those instances where Ben was wrong.
One stepping stone for us as we begin our journey down the road of persuasion rather than argument is to become fascinated at how the other person came to be of the opinion they have which we currently believe is wrong. Doing so with a genuine open mind and curiosity might lead them to self discovery of their error if they are wrong, and would be far more likely to help us see things from their point of view. Further, there will be occasions were this new information for us will have us come to grips with having to let go of a conclusion we’ve erroneously reached should there be a need to.
Self discovery of a fault involves no “saving of face”. On the other hand, the more we argue with someone, the more we help them convince themselves that they are right. Why? Because when they are arguing with us they are focused on all the points that support their contention. That prevents them from considering our points.
Yes, it’s an art form and by all means, your Author is no authority on this. He is a work in progress, nothing more.
Question of the Day to Ask Ourselves
“What can I do to be more open to learning the gentle art of persuasion?”
Copyright 2014 Kevin Littleton, all rights reserved.