Notes and Thoughts

An experiment to spark conversation


On handling arguments


As I read more, I find it very difficult to stop myself from forming opinions on topics that I read about, and it has been happening quite a lot recently (Covid? Idle Mind?). But the curse is not that I have opinions, which is justified since you can be totally neutral only if you are an all-knowing all-encompassing being or a total rock. Anyone who has had any form of exposure to anything in life will intuitively know that it is incredibly difficult to not form opinions, this is not to say that you cannot be humble about the epistemic certainty of your opinions and knowledge, or for that matter be aware of the unevaluated complex (possibly of superiority) that you have been developing. Ofcourse, you can be humble, and ofcourse, you can be aware of your obnoxious attitude(could be an internal monologue or the overwhelming urge to argue over the correctness with others), but it is during an exchange, whether online or in-person, that it becomes a curse. A curse that you are aware of is ruining your life and your relationships. A curse that you know you can fix if you just changed that one little thing (Shutting the * up). A curse which despite your knowledge of how to get rid of it, doesn't let you.

It is during one such exchange that it occured to me to index all the scenarios and loop over them as many times as possible so that even if I cannot get rid of it entirely, at least I can be conscious about it and follow the directives based on the scenarios that I could index(Below). I do not know if I have been able to follow this at all times, but what I do know is I've been able to hold myself back from becoming that tediously opinionated person(which I hope I generally am not and which almost everyone unanimously agrees is an annoying quality in a human being) on more than one occasions since I wrote this. Thats a win, right?

Btw I have no idea if this is right for most people reading this, but then what do I know. Just putting it out in the hope that people like me, my brethren, who are afflicted by this curse might find some relief from this list as I did.

The Inquiry and The Response

Q. How do you recognize that a conversation is heading towards an argumentative state?

A. You feel the urge to correct them or convince them. Always watch out for that feeling.

Q. How should you handle the situation when you are aware that a conversation is heading towards an argumentative state?

A. Your first attempt should be to watch out for your urge to correct or convince; and slowly go into listening mode by adding a pause or a two to make the sudden turn in the character of the conversation palatable.

Q. How do you know the quiet(listening mode) is not the right response?

A. It makes them feel uncomfortable to take the conversation forward. They usually find it difficult to keep it going in a cohesive manner or are left dangling in a state where they are shouting or seem vexed.

Q. What should you do when the quiet(listening mode) is not the right response?

A. Agree in a polite but non-obvious way, that is, talk less and talk only about what you think is the common ground.

Q. How do you respond when people incorrectly assume your agreement or quiet for complete conformity and point to it the next time they see you acting in a way that doesn't fit the agreed upon notion?

A. By agreeing again.

Q. How should you go about your actions post the discussion if the argument was about the action itself?

A. Do what you think is correct.

Q. Do you have to change the action at that point?

A. No, keep doing it unless there is a chance that someone can be harmed by it, in which case you should know that you are in the wrong here and should change the course of action.

Q. What if they ask you about the disagreement between the action and the agreement of ideas?

A. Tell them you want to give this(apparently inconsistent action) a benefit of doubt and try it out this once to see if there could've been a possible mistake in your assumption.

Q. How do you handle having opened your mouth to speak something, but realizing that what you have is a retort?

A. Add a pause and respond honestly or go into listening mode, whichever is most suited.

Q. How should you handle your urge to give advice?

A. Add a pause or a two, and wish them well on whatever they wish to do.

Q. What should you do when you think your advice might be valuable?

A. Remember this: No advice is as valuable as we think they are, and actions speak louder than words. Be(Do) what you preach.

Q. How should you handle your urge to give long-winded explanations?

A. Practice concision and have a well-defined argument always ready.

Q. What about things in which you have not formed well-defined arguments yet, but have opinions?

A. Go into the quiet mode(listening mode). Our opinions are never as valuable as we think they are.

Q. Should you be irked by obvious questions?

A. No

Q. How should you respond to questions that seem obvious to you?

A. By answering in them in the most honest and straightforward way possible.

Q. How should you handle the urge to be condescending/sarcastic in such situations?

A. By making honesty your first nature.

Q. How do you compensate for loss of humor with increased honesty?

A. Treat honesty in conversation as a responsibility when speaking, but do not expect it from others.

Q. What should you do when others are trying to be condescending?

A. Laugh it off and leave it at that.

Q. Are there questions that need answers at all and at any cost?

A. No

Q. Why do you say that questions need not be answered?

A. People and Relationships are more important than answers to questions.

Q. Is any question as important as we think they are?

A. No.

Q. What do you do when your question or your statement begets discomfort from others?

A. Leave it at that. And if possible subtly change the topic to an altogether different one.


Q. What should you do when you are already in a Quarrel with others?

A. The moment you realize that tap with your pinky finger three times to remind yourself to agree and leave it off, two times to go into listening mode, four times to wish them well and leave.

Q. Why use pinky finger and what is the logic behind it?

A. It is one of the most underused fingers, so you attune your mind to listen to itself and give itself feedback. The logic is to create a self-feedback loop when you are aware of the right thing to do but awareness alone fails to guide you to the right course of action. So you use an auxiliary tool as an enforcing agent.