QUOTES & WISDOM
TOP OF THE MIND
QUOTES & WISDOMfrom the Top of the Mind
QUOTES & WISDOM
Top of the Mind
Nancy Perovic, RN, BSN
University Of Chicago Hospitals, Chicago, IL
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Dealing With People Who Just Want To Argue
We’ve all been there. A discussion that may have started with a sharing of perspectives turns into an argument where being right and proving the other wrong seems to be the order of the day. When this happens, I suggest that we rob the argument of its fuel by stepping back, and simply expressing confidence in what we have decided to think, feel, and/or do.
This could sound something like, “Yes, I can see how you might see it that way, and… I’m comfortable with my perspective.”
Of course, because the other person is in “argument mode,” they will most likely argue with this as well. However, because it takes two people to keep an argument alive, and we are no longer trying to convince them of anything, or defend our position, the heated discussion will soon run out of steam.
Now, some might say, “Well, what if they aren’t making any sense? How can I tell them I understand when they are being irrational?” This is where neuroscience (and, specifically, my “Life from the Top of the Mind” philosophy) can be helpful. For example, as those of you who have heard me speak or read my books know, the brain is basically divided into three parts:
The lower brain is called the brainstem, the middle brain, the limbic system, and the upper 80% of the brain, is called the neocortex. Of these three, the only part of the brain that is rational is the neocortex (what I call the Top of the Mind). Therefore, when someone is being irrational, they are, by definition, being driven by the irrational brain (the brainstem). Knowing this allows us to understand why they are being irrational, and why they may be saying things that just don’t make sense.
Therefore, we can authentically say, “Yes, I can see how you might see it that way, and…I’m comfortable with my perspective” because we now know them to be coming from the irrational brain. To be clear, it will be important to use “and” versus “but” in confirming our confidence. Saying, “Okay, I see what you are saying, BUT…” will not be effective in turning down the heat, because the word “but” negates anything that comes before it.
Therefore, if you have decided that “fanning the flame” by arguing with someone is not how you want to spend your time (and probably not something you would recommend to someone you love), I suggest stepping back from the heat and simply stating that you are comfortable with your position without needing to make them wrong.
This will not only allow you to move on to something more productive, it will give those who only want to argue with you good information on the futility of that perspective, which could bode well for any interaction you may have with this person in the future.
~ All the best, Dr. Bill