Is the Habit of Argument Destroying Your Connections?Mar 24, 2023
If you only know argument, you aren't experiencing the full connection that may be available to you.
Argument is insidious, and people in argumentative habits and orientations often don't even see that they are fighting ghosts and creating conflict.
Argument is a system where we see ourselves as having a point or a counterpoint that the other is not seeing or is not willing to see. Argument is negative, it happens when something is wrong, when something needs to be different, when things are "not" in some way (not how they should be, not going well, not working...). The central spirit of argument is fight and resistance. It feels dense and stuck and heavy in the body.
Conversation and collaboration are positive. They're about reality as it is. We desire to investigate the points of the other and offer counterpoints as gifts we know the other is eager to unwrap. The central spirit of conversation and collaboration is "thank you." We are here to share an experience, and we are both tuned toward making that experience exquisite, potent, and pure.
Not pure as in matching some vision, but pure as in a conversation because we want to talk, we want to join together in a shared reality, we enjoy sussing out each others' experiences, not because we want to achieve or change something.
A person who is oriented toward conversation and collaboration is usually someone who is oriented toward personal responsibility. A person who is oriented toward argument is usually someone who is oriented toward blame and fault. These are different worlds altogether.
I often converse with collaborators and conversationalists who are frustrated by innocently argumentative people. Often by people who are arguing for their innocence against self-generated judgments. It is very difficult to bridge this gap. It's hard to get an argumentative person to see that they're arguing or that there's another way, because whatever you say, their first instinct is to argue. Whatever you offer, they receive blame and fault, because it's coming from within them, not from you.
It's not that it is wrong to argue. (That would be an argument lol.) It's that argument stifles connection. It makes a lot of sense to argue in situations where connection is already off the table, with enemies and adversaries. But in the arena of connection, argument doesn't make sense, it's self-defeating. If I want maximum connection, I must expand beyond argument, blame, and fault. I must accept and inhabit reality as it is, and be in agreement with my loved ones about what reality is.
If he says "the dishes are still in the sink" and they ARE, there's no argument to be had. Yep. The dishes are still in the sink. I said I would take care of them. They're still there. That's just the facts. "You're right, honey, the dishes ARE still in the sink, and ALSO I said I would take care of them by now. Looks like I didn't! You're trying to make dinner, huh? Let me take care of them real quick." This is a collaboration. I understand his statement about the dishes as an invitation to collaborate within reality.
If he says "the dishes are still in the sink" and they are but I think he's saying they shouldn't be or I'm ashamed that they are because I said I would take care of them, that's when I argue. I'm not arguing that dishes are not in the sink, because that is obviously insane. I argue for an insanity more compelling and elusive.
I'm fighting the ghost I imagine behind that statement, the idea that dishes *should not* be in the sink, the idea that he's stating that to make me do them, the idea that he's criticizing me for not doing what I said I would do. I am trying to reject my imagined fault and blame, which has nothing to do with whether fault and blame are actually coming from the other person. I am anchoring us in adversary, blame, fault rather than in the facts of reality, and then I am fighting the anchor I myself set.
There's a way to address an argumentative person that has the potential to offer them to meet you in personal responsibility. It is NOT guaranteed to work. The fault/blame paradigm is intensely ingrained in most of us as children in this society.
Request that the other person reflect back what they're hearing you saying, and keep the "thank you" tone in all that you say (this is the hardest part).
"The dishes are still in the sink."
"Ok, well I had a really busy day."
"Thank you for sharing that you had a busy day. Can you reflect what you heard me say?"
"I should have done the dishes by now, I didn't, I'm sorry, I was really busy, what do you want from me?"
"Thank you. It seems like you're upset with yourself for not having done the dishes yet. Can you remember what *I* said about the dishes? Would you reflect what you heard *me* say about the dishes?"
"You said the dishes are still in the sink."
"Thank you, yes. I said the dishes are still in the sink. That's ALL I said. From your responses, it seems like you're saying you didn't have the time you anticipated having today. I know how that goes! Do you have time now quick so I can make us dinner? Or should I do them? Or maybe I can wash and you dry?"
In this example, the argumentative person is stuck in resistance to reality, fighting reality, feeling shame and stuckness for reality being how it is. They're not offering solutions, they're expressing an emotional experience and justifying reality (which never needs justification, because it IS). The collaborative person is accepting and addressing reality. It's hard to make dinner with dishes in the sink, it's time to make dinner, dishes are still in the sink. Collaboration is about now, what IS. It doesn't matter that you said they would be done, it matters that they are still here. It only matters because it's time to make dinner. Argument only slows down the process.
It's not for an adult to punish another adult, to hold them accountable, to judge their consistency. Punishment is not adjustment, and adjustment isn't punishing. Adults show up to reality as it is from a stance of personal responsibility. Adults honor the everchanging desires and capacities of other adults, as they want that honoring for themselves.
The fullest connection arises from this honoring, from this respect, from the equality of meeting in reality as it is. That is why argument, sourced in delusion and what is NOT, inhibits connection, sometimes to the point of obliterating it altogether.