The argumentative soul

June 26, 2015

I dedicate this post to my friend, and I use the term “friend” loosely here, Tony. You know who you are. Heck, you suggested this. He’s just one of many. You’ve met them, you know them, they’re a member of your family, they’re a close friend, they’re a colleague. We’ve all encountered them. The argumentative soul.

“The moment we want to believe something, we suddenly see all the arguments for it, and become blind to the arguments against it.” – George Bernard Shaw

Some people are naturally born with the need, and often the skill, to argue. They basically enjoy the mental exercise of debate. I get it, I get it! It drives you, it excites you, it’s just part of who you are. You thrive on it, and you usually mean well. I know many of these people; I respect them and admire them. And they make excellent lawyers.

Then you have those that will turn any simple discussion into a confrontation. For no reason. Just because they can. You’ll begin by mentioning this new restaurant you recently discovered and within minutes, the conversation turns ugly. It’ll become about the state of the army in Lebanon (yes Tony), about hunger in the world, or the lack of gun control in the US. Basically it’ll become  a totally off topic heated debate. For absolutely no reason than to satisfy the basic compulsion of the argumentative soul.

Interestingly, I recently heard of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or more commonly called NPD. NPD is described as a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of ultraconfidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.

Interesting. Now I’m not saying there’s any link here. Seriously. But maybe there is. I choose to plead the fifth and make no conclusion, as I’m certainly no expert, and no doctor. I’m simply throwing it out there, for the common benefit of increased knowledge.

There are different ways to deal with the argumentative soul, and it really all depends on the time of personality you have:

1. Stay calm and evaluate whether it’s really worth your time and energy. This requires an immense amount of self-control and patience. Listen to the other person, nod your head, and then change topics. Don’t allow them to indulge in their desire to rev you up.

“Silence is argument carried out by other means.” – Che Guevara

2. Argue until one person gives up. You better be prepared for a long night. Have your counter arguments ready and don’t give the other person any ammunition against you. Anything you say will and can be used against you. If you’re passionate about the subject at hand, this may your best course of action so you don’t feel as though you’re compromising your integrity. But be ready for a long battle.

3- Run away. The argumentative soul will always believe they’re right. Even when they’re wrong. So what’s the point? Sneak your way out of the conversation and find a safe place to hide. With people not in the mood to argue.

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