Resolving Arguments

Resolving Arguments

A major cause and effect of discord in relationships is arguing. Most arguments are caused by a lack of communication. A good marriage counselor can sit between almost any two people having an argument, explain in different words what the other party means, and the argument will usually cease because the other’s point of view is then understood. As long as both parties are receptive to communication this can be done.

Arguments have two basic causes:

  1. The two have a different interpretation of various words used in the argument. This different interpretation has not been communicated.
  2. The two are seeing from different levels of vision. No two levels of vision are exactly the same, but a real problem occurs when one of the arguers sees only on the emotional level and the other sees on the mental. The mental person must step down to the feeling world to reach agreement with the emotional person. It is very seldom one can get a person who is polarized in the emotions to follow a course of pure logic.

One would be surprised at how many times cause #1 occurs. Usually when this happens, both parties actually believe the same way, but have a different use of words. Here’s an example:

JOHN: Every time someone communicates, he is teaching in one way or another.

MARY: Do you mean that any time someone says anything, he is teaching?

JOHN: Yes.

MARY: That cannot be right. I have had many people speak things to me that did not teach me anything. In fact, many things were completely untrue.

JOHN: Even if the communication is untrue, there is some fact conveyed.

MARY: Let’s take an example. I take a bite of a steak and I say “This is delicious”, but you take a bite and don’t like it. How does your communication teach me anything? It is only right for you because I think the steak is good.

JOHN: Nevertheless, I related to you the FACT that that is my opinion. My opinion may not be true in your eyes, but it is a fact that it is my opinion and I taught you what I think.

MARY: But your opinion was nothing useable so I was not taught anything.

JOHN: It doesn’t matter whether you use it or not. I still taught you my opinion.

MARY: You did not teach me anything. Your opinion wasn’t even true from my point of view.

The problem here is that John and Mary are using a different definition of the word “teach”. John thinks that to teach is to relate any fact so it is understood, whether it is useful or not to the other person. Mary thinks that there is no teaching accomplished unless the person receiving the communication receives data he can use in his life.

Even though John’s opinion may not be true to Mary, it is still a fact that it is his opinion. He related the true fact of the way the steak tasted to him. In relating this fact to Mary, he was teaching by his definition.

By Mary’s definition, he was not teaching because she didn’t care what he thought of the steak. It was not useable knowledge to her.

The two will argue till doomsday and never reach agreement on this point until they agree on a common definition of the word “teach”. If they go to the dictionary and use the most accepted definition and abide by it, then they will find that they agree with each other after all. Perhaps they could arrive with two different terms to define what they felt about teaching. For instance, to teach would be the communication of any fact, useful or not, but an “effective teacher” would fit Mary’s idea of one who communicates useful information. Once they have defined their terms, they have no need to disagree unless one party is just plain stubborn.

Perhaps we can now see the truth of the following rule: “If two people agree on their definitions, and communicate on a logical basis, they will always reach some point of agreement.”

The second cause of arguments is that of seeing from different levels of vision. Some arguments from this category are over such things as capital punishment, religion, abortion, equal rights, racism, etc. If two people are arguing over an emotionally charged subject, then one may know that one or both members in the discussion is emotionally polarized. If both members stay on the plane of the mind, they can stay calm even in discussing such emotional subjects.

Thus, we have two basic types of arguments in this second category: a) Emotional verses emotional, and 2) Emotional verses logical.

Here we have an example of emotional verses emotional:

DON: All men are created equal. Blacks are just as good as you or I.

RON: I never met a black I liked. They are all lazy and want to live off the white man. They ought to be sent back to Africa.

DON: You’re a racist pig if I ever met one.

Ron then takes a punch at Don.

Notice that neither of the two men use any intelligent reasoning. Now we will examine an emotional verses a logical argument:

DON: All men are created equal. Blacks are just as good as you or I.

JOHN: It depends on what you mean by equal. In reality, no two people are alike. DON: You sound like a racist to me.

JOHN: A true racist is someone who does not believe in equal rights for the different races. I do believe in equal rights so how do you get the idea that I am a racist?

DON: You do not believe that blacks are equal.

JOHN: I said that I don’t believe that any two people are equal, or exactly alike. By that I don’t mean that they are not Equal In RIGHTS. I’m talking about ability and personality. You didn’t seem to be listening. You and I are not exactly equal, or alike. For instance, I can run faster than you, and, at present, there is nothing you can do about it.

DON: Do you believe that the black is equal to the white?

JOHN: He should be equal in rights, but in other ways one race will differ from another. For instance, I think that blacks are better basketball players than whites on the average, but, on the other hand, fewer of them are good hockey players.

DON: It sounds to me like you’re a racist. JOHN: It sounds to me that we had better pin down your definition of a racist so we can talk intelligently.

Notice that Don thought John was a racist because he did not speak from the same feeling level as he did. John was exasperated because he was trying to speak logically to an emotionally polarized person. If Don could shift his angle of vision to the world of reason he would see that John does not LOOK at other races as being not as good as his own. Instead he is trying to examine differences in a logical manner.

There is one other cause of disagreements and this is illusion. Illusions are caused by wrong core beliefs in a person’s thinking. All beliefs that branch off this core belief may seem completely logical and sound if the core belief is unexamined. But when the core belief is seen in the light of the mind, the illusionary nature of the branch beliefs are readily seen.

If one person believes that man is basically evil and another believes he is essentially good, then the two will disagree again and again on the branch beliefs. To reach harmony, they must both trace their branch beliefs back to the core belief and examine them under the light of reason. Only high mental thinkers will be able to do this. Emotionally charged people can never trace their beliefs back beyond the point of where their mind currently has its attention.

We can begin to see that true communication is difficult to achieve, but when it is we will be amazed at how simple, yet joyous it is.

Oct 7, 2002

Copyright By J J Dewey

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