Thursday, March 29, 2007

Arg(L)uements - Sticky and Messy?

"Quarrel not at all. No man resolved to make the most of himself can spare time for personal contention." – Abraham Lincoln

Something I have learned enough to put into practice these days. It is blissful when you are not always trying to prove that you’re right – of course, I am only talking about situations wherein you are reasonably confident of what you think. And – many people find this hard to admit - even if you are quite confident, there’s always some possibility of being wrong because of the myopic and prejudiced glasses that we all tend to use to look at life. Not an unpardonable mistake though. Like in one particular C&H strip, Calvin starts seeing both sides of everything in life (physical objects is what the strip presents as a metaphor) and he feels he is going insane as a result. :)

Coming back to the original quote, it reminds me of another quote. Someone said, it is better to be happy than right. I believe that more often than not, the objective is not to prove that you’re right but to understand the situation, different perspectives and, ultimately, get closer to the truth. Sometimes, if you’re trying to prove yourself right repeatedly and are doing it the wrong way – by quarrelling, rather than, for example, showing how it works- and the other person happens to stand there smiling and letting you waste all your energy, it can make you look like a mere mortal pitted against a divine entity focused on being happy and peaceful. While you’re wasting all your energy, the other person is saving his’, hopefully, for doing better things. Next time you are on a quarrelling mode, consider the following things and arrive at a more knowledgeable conclusion on whether it really matters or not. If it matters, and you genuinely believe that you know something that is valuable, try being assertive and confident rather than arrogant or condescending. Also, explore the best way to get the other person to understand your point of view rather than blindly using your oratory skills.

1. What is it that you are quarrelling or arguing about?To start with, understand the topic well. You wouldn’t want to find yourself quarrelling about something not even remotely related to the topic under discussion

2. Is it something unimportant from your perspective?It is not important to prove yourself right in an aggressive manner, for example, if all you’re talking about is a dish that someone likes but you don’t.

3. Is it something you don’t quite understand?It is better you listen than talk. You’ll be respected more for such behaviour in such circumstances. But it ought to be okay to ask questions though there are people who’ll take advantage of your ignorance. Ignore them. Just focus on learning.

4. Is it something that if not understood well will impact some entity or the other adversely?We are talking about something important and it’s important to consider all views

5. Is it something that if not done right will impact the world at large?We are obviously talking about something important and it’s good to put forth perspectives in an amiable way

6. What if it’s personal - if you’re being targeted? If you’re being unnecessarily shown in bad light or provoked?If the person you’re dealing with is not a character you appreciate, it is best to keep silent and let the person waste her energy. Sometimes, situations do beg to be handled in a different manner. If you can think of a smart retort that is not wicked but at the same time meaningful and ‘communicative’, say it with a smile. Then, forget the dialogue and move on with other things in life. If the person seems to have a human side to her, it may be good to have an open talk once the time seems right for such a thing. But, if further provoked, I believe that it is best to save your energy for better things in life. Nobody can underestimate you without your consent and you don’t have to necessarily declare your disapproval verbally. :)

Ok. I can’t think of anything else as of now. :) If you’ve got some wisdom to share on this topic, I’d more than appreciate it!

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