Changing a behavior is something that is generally hard to do. At least for me, behaviors are like habit and habit is hard to break.
The way I tend to communicate with people is in an argumentative way when talking about subjects I am passionate about, something that I try to recognize but usually end up doing anyways. I get defensive when communicating and that causes a lot of problems in communication. But not the type of defensive stance that causes confrontation every time. Rather, the type that seeks to find meaning in something.
Start with Love
I was reading in an article talking about different ways to approach a conversation to avoid arguing. They stated to “Start with love. This is the foundation of the martial art aikido: to love the combatant one faces, wishing him no harm, but moving in harmony with the person’s own energy in order to deflect him to another path”. (Garmston & Zoller, 2018)
The conversation should flow even when in disagreement. So in I decided to change this about myself and see what my conversations would be like and how they differ amongst my interactions.
Answering the Question
When I communicate with people who are close to me, friends, family and sometimes my partners I tend to argue and get defensive as the conversation goes on, depending on the subject. I developed this habit while I was in the Marine Corps. I tend to be able to separate this from my work life however, I am in sales and part of my process in sales is to be non-argumentative.
In my personal life though, I don’t mean argument in the sense that I am trying to prove someone wrong and myself right. I am generally just looking for a conclusion. I think there is a truth to everything, even to questions that have no proven answer. I still look to answer the question, even if it doesn’t logically make sense. I stopped doing this for a day to see the response that I would receive from the few people that I do talk to.
For Arguments Sake
I stopped this all together after doing this experience, the response I got from people was very interesting. Conversations went a lot better and people were actually willing to have a conversation with me without tension.
I usually do not get in fights, the argument is just something to prove and that can become pretty repetitive. People were also more willing to discuss topics I don’t start talking about. Things like politics, usually because of my tendency to want to argue my point. Going at things from the stance that I was allowed to converse on politics and avoid any type of argument.
One of the main things I focused on was how I was actually saying things. I started to notice how I would get so involved in the conversation. Sometimes I was talking too loud or using my hands a little more than what I should have been using them.
Keeping the Logic
I found an article about the logical pitfalls of communication and how that can cause gaps in how we communicate. Stephen M. Contakes said; “Based on my experience with student lab reports and presentations, I suspect that most incomplete arguments are a failure of communication rather than a failure of logic.” (Contakes, 2014)
To me this really stuck out because sometimes I let my emotions get the better of me in conversation and forget about logic, unless I am thinking about it. So when you really fail to get your point across, then the communication process almost falls apart.
In conclusion, my thoughts on perception is that what you think you are, you will be. Your thoughts become your reality. If you think of something long enough, it can become a part of you and start to mold the type of person that you see yourself being. Learning to focus on your thoughts and think logically helps reduce the emotional aspect that can be involved in conversation. Which helps avoid controversy. I will continue to try and be as non-argumentative as I can be when talking about things I am passionate about.
1. Garmston, R., & Zoller, K. (2018). Respectful disagreement closes the gap between points of view. WHAT WE’VE LEARNED, 16-18. Retrieved September 30, 2018
2. CONTAKES, S. (2014). Logical pitfalls and communication gaps: frequent lines of argument that dead-end the origins of conversation. Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, set. v. 66, n. 3, p. 174–178. Retrieved 30 September 30, 2018