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Starting Arguments

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It is the Second Person to Speak Who Starts the Argument.

What do you call it when one person is speaking?

The voice of one person is usually a monologue, sermon, or lecture – not the start of an argument. Argument potential starts when a second person joins with dissenting thoughts or feelings. Every argument requires at least two participants. The first speaker cannot compel another to respond. Getting hung up on who "started it" is irrelevant.

For many people, having an argument (debate, fight, difference of opinion, conflict, or whatever you call it) is a negative or uncomfortable activity. But, dictionary aside, people have varying senses of when the emotionality or persistence of a conversation has worked up into an undesirable communication.

As an example, have you ever been surprised when someone said, "Stop arguing with me," and you didn't feel you were arguing or even realize a conflict had started? Your conviction or passion along with their sensitivity to the topic created an argumentative feeling for them, even if you didn't perceive it that way. It goes nowhere to insist you are not arguing. Your insistence itself feeds the feel of an argument.

Certain people avoid conversations for fear an argument will begin. Avoidance habits rarely contribute favorably to an intimate relationship. Problems cannot be resolved without conversation. Your relationship cannot advance to the next level without conflict resolution. You and your significant other(s) need to look at your conversational styles and together make necessary changes to work through arguments.

Throughout life and relationships, sometimes you need to be the second person entering the conversation and expressing yourself – and risking an argument.  It's not always a bad thing.  A well-expressed argument builds understanding.

Remember – starting arguments can lead to growth, while avoiding them leads to distance.

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About Dr. Coach Love

  • I think it’s important to distinguish between attacking ideas and attacking people. You can disagree strongly with someone’s ideas whilst respecting them as people. You can engage in a fierce debate about the ideas, strongly disagreeing with each other, and still remain friends.

    But many people can’t do that. If they identify themselves too closely with their ideas or beliefs, then any questioning of the idea becomes a perceived insult to them. That’s often seen in discussions around religious faith but also around political beliefs.

    An argument is an essential part of clarifying ideas and theories. Without it, we wouldn’t have made the technical and scientific advances we have. If Darwin hadn’t argued with the notion that species are immutable, we’d never have understood human evolution and genetics.

    On a more personal level, arguing in a relationship can clarify different attitudes, whereas suppressing that argument can hide those differences and store up conflict for the future. Argument with respect is what we ought to aim for.

  • Dr, Coach Love

    Thanks, Bob, for adding to this discussion. It certainly does make a difference if one is attacking a person intentionally—but even still, certain people feel attacked themselves if their ideas are not accepted.
    Making the distinction between people and their ideas is critical.

  • Many people find it difficult to argue without getting highly emotional. That’s why it’s so problematic. Just the term “arguing” implies anger for many people – they can’t conceive of arguing rationally and calmly. Maybe there’s a word somewhere between “argue” and “discuss” that would be better used for the kind of argument you’re talking about…

  • Dr, Coach Love

    I have heard many people say that they “hate” to argue while implying that anyone who does argue, must like it. Sure there are some people who seem to get a charge out of an argument itself and others whose end game is driven by a compulsion to be “right”. But for most of the rest of us, we argue when it seems necessary— not because we like to do so.

    And, Jon, there probably ain’t no universally neutral word for it. It is a relationship communication process that individuals must work out between them. Of course, family of origin dynamics shape our basic skills and lack of skills with conflict until or unless we learn to build on what we know or gain skills.

    Call it kicking it around, debating,checking signals—for some people no matter what you call it, conversation saturated with disagreement or conflict is taboo.