Don’t argue with someone until you’ve done this!

26 Aug

It’s been a ‘good’ summer for some advocacy groups.  There have been victories in areas ranging from local to national to international.  Therefore, lots of folks have been declaring progress in their pet area and calling GOOD what another might actually find BAD.

But before you lament privately or push back publicly and in person with a representative of the ‘winning’ side, you need to take a thought-filled first step. Here’s an example from recent headlines:

The awarding of the US Army ranger tab to the first women graduates of the 60+ day grueling course brought to mind this need to pause before speaking. Many are calling this ‘historic first’ a GOOD move.  A ranger graduate and I were talking about the event and why some label it GOOD.  I mentioned that I could understand why some would think that. At his surprised expression, I continued and

Women Rangers

pointed out that depending on one’s presupposition, this achievement could be viewed as a long-awaited positive change.

Let’s brainstorm why some people both in and out of the military consider this a promising step forward.

If you believe that:

  • All women should have the same training opportunities as men
  • Earning a Ranger tab is necessary for career development in the Army
  • All barriers based on gender are harmful

then, it follows that allowing women to try out for and complete the Army’s ranger course is GOOD.

Let’s look at another issue in the news, the recently released videos about Planned Parenthood’s complicity in marketing fetal body parts.

Planned Parenthood

Many call bringing such negotiations to the public eye a GOOD development.  How can that be? That’s not difficult to see if one’s pre-suppositions are akin to:

  • Publicizing all the dealings of Planned Parenthood might cause funding to decline, thus decreasing abortions
  • In a democracy, the public has the right to know the details about where their federal tax dollars go
  • Deliberately killing unborn babies for their fetal body parts is evil

How do you know what someone’s underlying value or assumption is?  You ask them!  BEFORE you start to argue/discuss. Questions are your best friend.  Don’t you think that it is better NOT to risk coming across as arrogant or even mean-spirited by plunging directly into the debate without taking the time to learn more about the other side?  Asking background questions with a kindly and NEUTRAL tone puts the other person at ease.  And while you’re investing in this verbal research, don’t forget to seek clarity of terms.  It might help steer your conversation if you know what the other side means by even such an innocuous concept as GOOD.

2 Responses to “Don’t argue with someone until you’ve done this!”

  1. Cody Libolt August 27, 2015 at 6:39 am #

    I really enjoyed this article. I wish I had followed this advice more, and I plan to in the future. Getting the assumptions out into the open is a good first move.

    • Maria August 27, 2015 at 1:57 pm #

      I need to follow this advice too! I often feel the false pressure to get my point of view out there and I succumb to that temptation.

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