Sunday, 7 April 2013

How Not To Win An Argument

Those of you who have been charmed by my optimism and good-natured nonchalance will probably be shocked to learn that I am in arguments more often than I am in regular conversations.

I don't enjoy them, nor do I seek them out, I just stumble into them.

Other people do not believe this to be the case.

REGARDLESS, we will all now benefit from the sheer breadth of my expertise in this area as I share with you how not to win an argument.

Or, actually, how to avoid a break-up as a result of a stupid argument. Or maybe how to have an argument while causing the least damage.

Whatever.

Basically, this is all the stuff you should avoid saying if you want to maintain a) your dignity and/or b) your relationship.

When you're fighting with someone - whether that's a boyfriend, a girlfriend or the irritating young man you happen to be sleeping with - and you're in a 'win or die' sort of situation, there are things you will be tempted to say.

Well, don't.

Don't say them.

By 'them', I mean the following things.

1. I FEEL SORRY FOR YOU.

This didn't even work when Harry said it to Voldemort, and that is for one very specific reason: IT IS NEVER TRUE. You don't feel sorry for them. You hate them and want to set them on fire. Pretence of any kind is POINTLESS and you are wasting everyone's time.

2. I WISH YOU WERE DEAD.

Yes. But unless you're a thirteen year old arguing with your mother about your restrictive bedtime, this is a, frankly, embarrassing thing to say. If you really must wish that people were dead, do it privately. Other derivatives of this include "Just kill yourself." As these phrases can occasionally hit a nerve and leave you having to justify them in every future argument until you both actually ARE dead, best to avoid.

3. I WISH I WAS DEAD.

We've talked about suicidal threats before. And you don't wish you were dead, you hope that the other person does not wish you were dead. Do you see? Again, pointless. And, unless you are holding a knife to your own neck, childish.
(Note: Do not hold a knife to your own neck. Or to theirs, with reference to point 2.)

4. I'M NOT MAD.

Alright then. So why are we locked in this HELL? If you're so NOT mad, then make us a drink and we'll go and have some sex. No? OH, SO YOU ARE MAD?

5. I CAN'T DEAL WITH THIS RIGHT NOW.

Unless there are body parts falling from your person as you argue, yes you can. You just don't want to.

6. THIS WAS/YOU WERE A BIG MISTAKE.

On a serious note, this is one of those phrases that sort of hangs in the air when you've said it. If you do make up, this will come back to haunt you. If you don't, this will make the guilt all the worse when you've calmed down.

7. YOU'RE NOTHING COMPARED TO...

Do I need to explain this? Don't bring up ex-partners, don't bring up sexual prowess. You'll either have to leave it with them forever if you break up or try and convince them otherwise for THE REST OF TIME if you don't. 

8. YOU'RE JUST LIKE...

As above. If you've spent months bitching about your ex to the poor sap you're now inflicting yourself upon, don't throw this at them. The implication is 'I hate you as much as I hate them', which brings us nicely to...

9. I HATE YOU.

On one level, this is quite pathetic. It's a bit like Point 2, however, in that - if you're really going for someone and this gets spat out -  it's quite hard to recover from. Again, it hangs in the air if it's said with any conviction.

10. LEAVE ME ALONE.

That's not what you want, is it? You don't want them to leave you alone, you just want them to stop disagreeing with you or criticising you or whatever it is that they're doing. That annoying thing that people say about not sleeping on an argument actually has some backbone - it's much easier to deal with stuff when it's happening rather than having to rake it all up again.

So, yeah. Avoid all that.

Good luck to you.

x