I Stink at Arguing

March 19, 2012

in Confessions

If you want to have a healthy debate, we're on. My mom used to say I could argue with a brick wall. I would probably win too.

Arguing is a totally different story. I truly stink at it. I always feel like Meg Ryan in You've Got Mail. I can never say the thing I want to say at the moment I want to say it.

I come up with the good stuff later.

Then again, when she was able to finally say the thing she meant to say at the moment she meant to say it, she felt horrible about it. I do too. Many times I stay quiet because if you don't have something nice to say, you shouldn't say anything.

Other times I stay quiet because I don't want to hurt people or I'm afraid of their reaction.

Other times I just don't want to rock the boat (insert singing of a quick chorus from Guys and Dolls here).

People have different argument styles everything from physically fighting to name calling to time outs.

I prefer the age old ignore it until it goes away. However, things don't seem to be going away these days.

Most people want to argue face to face so they can read body language, facial expressions, or they simply find it the fastest most efficient way to get an argument over with.

That honestly terrifies me.

I like to think things through before I say them. I like to weigh my words carefully because words can really hurt or words can heal. I want to make sure that what I say is what I mean to say. And if what I have to say is something unpleasant, well, what then?

I find it hard to be mean to people. I find it hard to say hurtful things. It goes against my nature. It goes against my philosophy of discussion instead of argument. The second you say something unpleasant in a discussion, you have entered into argument whether you wanted to or not.

I prefer to argue via e-mail or text message. As so many people have pointed out about online communications, the anonymity and the lack of face-to-face contact makes people more brazen, or in my case, braver.

I can think better in writing. I can get my point across better in writing. I don't get interrupted in writing. I just find it easier to clearly state my point. It seems too many people find this impersonal and hate it.

What about you? What is your argument style? Do you usually find it works or does it make the situation worse?

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Lindsey Renuard is a blogger, YouTube beauty expert, and the Managing Editor of the Skiatook Journal.


Kerry March 19, 2012 at 12:12 pm

I agree– I stink at arguing too and always think of something witty or a great come back about 3 hours after the fact…sigh.  I dislike arguing via writing though- especially with all the social media because people always seem to take things the wrong way.   Or you read things the wrong way.  
Nope I usually just sit in the corner, not saying a word!  😀
I found your blog through the blogger comment club- thanks for letting me visit.

Sara March 19, 2012 at 12:47 pm

I feel the same too.. It's exactly how you described it, I'm a spontaneous person, and if I let loose all my thoughts in an argument, problems may pop up!
I love "You've got mail" by the way! 🙂

Dr. G March 19, 2012 at 12:49 pm

That thing, where you think of what you wish you'd said afterwards? That is called "The wit of the staircase" and my husband talks about that all the time.  For me I'm usually going up the staircase after an argument wishing I'd kept my mouth shut more.

Lindsey March 19, 2012 at 2:13 pm

I have never heard it called the wit of the staircase. I like that!

Jennifer March 19, 2012 at 1:30 pm

I don't like confrontation at all, which is weird because I'm an Auditor and pretty much my entire job is confronting people. My parents argued a lot when I was growing up and now I  just shut down whenever that happens. I know what I want or don't want and that's what I'm going to do. No since in arguing about it.

Lindsey March 19, 2012 at 2:14 pm

I usually just do what I want to do too, but the more people that get involved in my life like my kids, the harder that gets.

hollow tree ventures March 19, 2012 at 3:18 pm

I totally agree with you – I can think things out, organize my point, and avoid saying something that I regret later.  It's not that I don't want to listen – I'm more than willing to read/listen to the other person's side as well, especially when they've had the same chance to make a well-thought-out point.  But it's so easy to get in a yelling match or feel like the other person is just waiting for you to stop talking so they can get in their next jab when you're talking face to face.  Once things escalate to a certain point, I just shut down and leave the room or refuse to continue the discussion until things cool off, anyway.  I agree it's less personal – and that's kind of what I like about it.  Everyone gets a chance to step back and keep the real focus of the discussion in mind, instead of getting side-tracked by sudden insults or an unintentional tone of voice.

Lindsey March 20, 2012 at 2:20 pm

That’s it exactly! There isn’t any sidetracking. You get to the point at hand and usually there is not any mud slinging.

siggiofmaine March 19, 2012 at 7:08 pm

If I MUST confront…I have to write it down…anything verbal is usually not well thought out nor well said…
I do not like confrontations.  I do not like triangles…where someone wants me to deliver messages to someone else …I was a boss and my style was face to face, facts only.  When you………..I feel…….  I expect …..by………..  Rather cut and dry.  And I found it useful day to day with family or friends.  But I usually have to write it out….and either read it to them or stand there while they read it. 
I am a pro/con list maker….and that is how I decide my "argument" decisions.  I did not grow up in a family that yelled and screamed.  It was the quiet/not speaking and it could be for twenty years or more.   
Your post was a very familiar set of situations  for me… I related to it very much.
Thank you for your sharing ….and to everyone else for sharing too.
Siggi in Downeast Maine

Kristi March 19, 2012 at 8:28 pm

A healthy discussion into a debate is normal, right? But trying to do it via email/text doesn’t provide the body language needed to really see how the other person feels. I’d much rather have the “debate” in person. Definitely.

Amanda Lynn March 20, 2012 at 12:58 am

I'm with you! My other problem is that I am such an emotional person I tend to cry when upset, hurt or angry. Then I get all blubbery and basically get no where. Writing gives me a chance to organize and express my thoughts without sabotaging myself. I have been known to walk away from an arguement only to return and drop a letter in someone's lap!

Shannon Henrici March 20, 2012 at 7:54 am

Kindred spirits!  I feel the same about arguing.  I grew up in a family of fighters and their fuses were extremely short.  It always ended up with someone crying and begging for forgiveness (me).  I am not sure they ever led to productive resolutions. 
I try to avoid arguing at all costs until I just can't take it and I unfortunately explode.  I feel like no one is listening when I try to drop hints nicely, so by the time I let it out I am pretty fed up.  I hate this part. 
I prefer writing 100% it gives me time to digest the message and respond in a productive manner.  I can always edit my writing over and over, but once it is out of my mouth I can't take it back. 
Who knows how to argue effectively and where can I learn how to do it?   Thanks for this honest post!  You are not alone my friend!

Krystle March 21, 2012 at 8:48 am

I am just like you. It is so much easier to do things in writing than in person. I rarely speak my mind in person because I am afraid other people will react badly to it. I only really speak up if its something that I have to defend otherwise I just go with the flow.

christina March 21, 2012 at 10:07 am

holy crap i could've written this word for bloody word!

Making It Work Mom March 21, 2012 at 11:55 am

I like to stay out of drama.  I don't mind arguing my point, but I shut right down when people don't listen or talk over me. 
Some people think they are good at arguing when really they are not.  They are just good yellers!

Heather H March 21, 2012 at 2:45 pm

I guess I want a mix of both.  I would like to know what the argument is about, and then I want time to cool off and a chance to think about what I want to say to the other person, and then to argue in person…although I'd much rather it be a discussion and not an argument.  I don't think well on my feet either and I need a chance to cool off because as much as I don't like to hurt people, I have a tendency to "pop off" and take low blows when I am upset.

But I don't like to argue over email.  Inflection says so much and all that is lost in the written word.  There is too much room for misinterpretation, so I just don't like it.  Unless I know the other person is still quite angry/upset.  I have a harder time controlling my emotions when the other person isn't in control of theirs.

Love You've Got Mail!  I quote that movie probably more often than I should!

Lindsey March 21, 2012 at 5:48 pm

I hate yelling. It always makes me cry no matter what.

Shell March 21, 2012 at 7:35 pm

I almost always regret saying something right in the moment. I might really mean it, but not in the harsh way it will come out.

Deanna March 21, 2012 at 9:39 pm

Wow, you sound just like me! I hate any type of confrontation. When arguments DO happen, I tend to kind of clam up and stumble over my words. Then after it's too late, I think of something really great to say or I remember all the things that I left out and I'm still pissed about. I like things to just be calm and drama free! I have a really bad temper and sometimes in the heat of the moment I spew things that I really don't mean. .. I hate apologizing even more, lol!

Yvonne Salvatierra March 23, 2012 at 11:55 pm

Although I'm very impulsive, I tend to shy away from confrontation for fear of repercussion. I sometimes keep my opinions to myself just because I either don't want to hurt the other person, disagree with the other person or could care less.  And I'm always apologizing too!

Pish Posh March 24, 2012 at 12:17 am

I enjoy debating, rather than arguing, if the other person is in on the game and both people are equally flexible and open to the exchange of ideas. I also enjoy debating when the other person is a dick, because I am good at arguing and I will take them down.
I am a blunt person. When someone is a jerk to me I cannot just let it fade away. I want to hash it out face to face. I don't care whether we end up agreeing. The worst thing is to have someone treat me badly and to not at least have a face to face or know why.

Other times you can just tell someone is ignorant and there is no point arguing. Or someone is too sensitive and fragile to be open to other ideas. Best to walk away.

Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms March 24, 2012 at 6:20 am

So glad I found you at Write on Edge. References to ""You've Got Mail", Guys and Dolls, and you can argue with a brick wall—we might have been separated at birth. I really liked this piece.  Writing is easier for me too. I am a big communicator, but I hate conflict. If everyone would just listen to me, life would be so much easier. 

Lindsey March 25, 2012 at 12:33 am

Now that makes perfect sense. If everyone would listen to me life WOULD be easier!

Susan March 24, 2012 at 7:36 pm

I have to admit, I'm one of those people who likes to argue face to face, but I totally agree that it's easier to get my thoughts across with writing. I would probably do MUCH better if I did take the time to at least write out my thoughts first!! Good luck with the arguing – hopefully you won't need that skill too often!
Susan recently posted..Toddler = Brutal Crusher of Dreams. For Real, Y’all.

Middle State March 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm

If I have time to prepare for a confrontation, I am OK. If something pops up like a spring storm, I'm usually out in the rain without an umbrella, feeling naked and speechless.  I hate it when people who know that take advantage of it.

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