Think of an argument with your partner. Chances are you’re fighting about some minor, petty issue. It has no significance but you’re both adamant you’re right.
It starts with the gentle exposition of your view. You listen to their point. You refute their argument. They counter yours. Tones of voice begin to change. You start to cut one another off.
Before you know it, this fight isn’t just about what you should do next weekend, it’s about everything. So you don’t want to lose. You shout. You unleash a barrage of information and informed opinion.
You win the argument but you damage the relationship.
It’s what you could call a tactical win and a strategic loss.
It reminds me of World War Two. The German invasion of Russia was a disaster. What compounded the German’s problems was their determination to seize Stalingrad. For the Russians, it was a symbol of their resistance. The Germans knew this and thought that if they could take that location from the Russians, they would crumble.
The Germans mistook symbolic significance for strategic significance.
Arguments are like that. It seems like they matter, but really, they don’t.
Another thing to consider: When we argue, we’re trying to make the other person see how wrong they are and how right we are.
It never works.
Nobody changes their mind because someone else tells them to. You can be as persuasive as you like, but, ultimately, the change has to come from within.
And if it is going to come, it won’t be in the midst of an argument, in response to your provocations. Nobody wants to admit they’re wrong. We all want to to save face. So we admit it days, maybe weeks later.
Remember next time you feel your voice rising and the tension building between you, that it’s folly to try and change the other person’s mind. Don’t focus on winning, on being right. Focus on your relationship. That’s what matters.
Because what use is winning an argument if you lose the one you care about?