Monday, November 14, 2011

Overcoming The Urge To Debate

The other day my husband and I were talking to each other about ways we have come to understand each other better and build a stronger marriage by that understanding.  I said something about understanding that when he gets upset a ton of super emotional nonsense comes barreling out.  His strong emotions become fact and he doesn't make sense.  He just starts ranting and can even be insulting, and way exaggerative about everything.  He said that I like to argue about everything, debating to the last detail even when it's unimportant.  It went something like this:

Him: I have realized that you like to argue.
Me: I do not.
Him: Yes, you do. You like to debate everything. It's part of who you are and I know not to take that personally anymore,
Me: When?  When do I debate about meaningless issues?  Name a time...
Him: (he just looks at me)
Me:  Awwww ok.....yeah.  I'm doing that right now aren't I?  Oops. Guess, I can be a bit pedantic about some things.

This is something that's deeply ingrained in who I am.  It's been my goal for awhile to learn to let things be sometimes without correcting, or demanding proof of other people's assertions.  It's an odd thing with me... I can be very warm and empathetic, but at the same time very much the opposite when the situation is different.  When I see something wrong, a fact that is being twisted, or distorted, or worse even, an opinion being touted as a fact I *have* to correct it.  My inner drive switches and feelings are no longer relevant to me at that time.  To me in this moment, it is not personal, it's about virtue.  Old conservatives with their rhetoric about Obama, guns, and illegals will make my blood pressure rise in mere seconds.  Don't be opening your mouth around me like you know something when you have no facts to back it up.  Make that speech of yours hateful and derogatory and it's on.  I will let you know just how much you thought you knew and will not allow ad hominem or off topic rants.  In other words, if I choose to take up a debate you best bet I know what I'm talking about, or I wouldn't have opened my mouth to begin with.  I don't debate subjects that I don't know the facts about.

Anyway, this is a habit that I know can be considered off putting to many, and it's time consuming, as well as emotionally consuming.  I can and will get very upset if the other party can't see my POV, especially when I have provided proper proof.  Why would one want to go on believing something false? (I think there's a lot of reasons humans lie to themselves to feel better, but that's another post!) This is something I have set out to change about myself the last 6  months.  Maybe, not completely obliterate, but take it down a notch or two.  I have realized that I have done that quite well in this pursuit this morning.

I saw someone misinformed about a certain issue and make a broad prejudice statement about the whole issue based on a sliver of information.  He does this often on line.  I almost had my whole arguement laid out inside my head ready to deliver through my finger tips when I realized this would likely take all day of back and forth debating.  I decided that I didn't have time for that, and he's just probably going to think what he wants anyway.  Then, I thought about it for a minute and I realized that I have not been so easily baited into debates lately at all.  The other day my father in law started in Obama, Walmart and guns on my....  I did correct him a few times, but I mostly kept it to myself.  He was getting emotional and trying to present a factual argument to someone that's in an emotional mindset is futile, so I directed him to the points we agree on, instead of disagree on and we remained civil.  Sometimes, I feel it's more important to make a person feel heard, and find common ground rather than correcting them.  Perhaps, when less threatened they'll be more open to your side.

In any event, this was a social skill that I have been working on for many years that I think I finally have a good grasp on! Yay me.