We all love a good argument – well, some of us do. You can see this all over social media. But if you want to get ahead and take advantage of an online quarrel, the best tactic is knowing about disagreeing politely.
It's not worth aggravating an argument, even if this gives you kicks. There are some people who get off from making others more upset. But really, apart from self gratification, especially if you are blessed with a quick wit and the gift of the gab, how does this really help?
The last thing you want is to fall into the category of being termed a troll. You may think you have a valid point which needs to be heard, but it's important to learn the knack of delivering your opinion successfully in a way everybody can understand and appreciate.
Avoid adding fuel to the fire
Disagreements can be deadly serious, and the implications can be extreme. Apart from feuds and vendettas, and being so wrapped up in your own belief you cannot see the wood for the trees, is it really necessary to hurt someone's feelings?
Be careful of the words you use. Sometimes this can be because of a lack of knowledge of the local lingo, cultural sayings, even being in the wrong age bracket. But ignorance shouldn't fan the flames of an argument to engulf everything without any chance of redress.
And it's all about maintaining a level playing field. Arguments can become healthy discussions if they are dealt with correctly. Treat the participants properly by disagreeing politely with their points of view, to avoid raising any unnecessary hackles, and things should become more enjoyable.
Take a look at this infographic containing suggestions about disagreeing politely:
And here's some code you could paste into your own posts (via the text mode) if you want to share this Infographic with your readers.
Why should you join in?
You don't have to participate within an argument. Not even if it is addressed to you! It isn't imperative to always react or respond to someone who wants to cause a rumpus in your direction, especially if you think it is unfounded.
The best people who are excellent at diverting away conflict are NHS staff. They calmly deflect away any aggravation and politely explain why the patient can't be seen right now, or why the doctor isn't immediately available. Their technique is a wonder to behold, and should be copied by everyone.
Before jumping into the fray, take a moment to consider whether this really is a good idea. What will you gain from joining in? What are your chances of converting this person to your way of thinking? Unless it's a life or death situation, quickly weighing up the pros and cons might be a good move.
Listen to increase your respect
The most appreciated aspect of disagreeing politely is giving the other person space to have their say first. And without any interruption (this is quite difficult for some people, especially if they have ideas whizzing around their heads as a result of the other's point of view).
Real listening is a real art. Many people never truly perfect it. But if you are able to bite your tongue until the other has finished, you will have had the opportunity to find out the real reasons for their argument. This will certainly give you a head start before you deliver your own version.
It's always a good idea to fully furnish yourself of all the facts from both sides of the argument, before you begin to participate. This breathing space will also give you time to compose a better response, and formulate your ideas more coherently, to help prevent any further provocation.
Show you care about their opinions
Another method to stall for more time to think through your response, is to acknowledge what the other has said. Repeat the main idea as a summary of his ranting and raving. This may be necessary before continuing, and also any watching (or reading) audience would benefit from this exercise.
Not only is this valuable, it also shows you have bothered to listen. Many people welcome the chance to get things off their chest. The fact the recipient of his vitriol hasn't recoiled in horror or exploded as a result, may have provided relief from something which may have been bottled up for a long time.
Once you have summarised the main points of the dispute, now's your chance to look for anything good or positive from it. Nothing everything will be bad. There may be an underlying element which could be highlighted or a point which could easily be persuaded to flip over to the other side.
Find out more through questions
Another way to disperse the situation and show you care is to ask questions. This may be necessary after a particularly incoherent rampage. It has the benefit of not only stopping the onslaught, but forcing the person to think about what they've said in order to answer properly.
The true purpose of asking questions, apart from satisfying your natural curiosity in how this person's mind works, is to get clarification. This will not only benefit you, but make the arguer stop to consider what their dispute was about in the first place.
Remember to ask open questions, to get better valuable information. These explanations will help to soothe the situation, hopefully unravel anything complicated or unthought-through, and gives you a chance to ask more questions to really understand the reasons for the disagreement.
Stop emotions making things worse
Many clashes of ideas happen from emotional uprisings. Emotions are a real catalyst for disruption and disagreements, especially on social media. People can get very het up about a specific subject, let their feelings get the better of them, and before you know it they have retaliated.
Remember feelings are not facts. Any hearsay or rumours you may have read do not have to be true. Gossip may sound compelling, along with click bait headlines designed to draw you in. In fact social media is rife with lies and deceit, all designed to bamboozle and infuriate, as well as educate and entertain.
Part of the asking questions exercise is to find out whether emotions and feelings are the culprit. Not understanding the situation because of a lack of knowledge, or having been coerced into believing something which isn't true, needs to be brought to the fore before you can continue with this argument.
Back up with evidence
You won't always win every argument, but you will have a better chance if you are able to have the necessary facts and figures at your disposal. This is particularly so if the other person has based their disagreement on the usual scandal and slander found on the web.
Often, especially with trolls, once you deliver real evidence to back up your side of the debate, they back down. Especially if they don't have any similar arsenal to dispute it. The last thing they want is to look stupid trying to contest it and failing.
However, how you present this information should be done tactfully, without belittling the other for not knowing. This isn't an occasion to win points. It is still necessary to continue to show respect for their point of view when disagreeing politely.
Learn to keep your cool
All with be lost if you lose your rag during an argument. The other person will have won! Learning to maintain your composure, especially if you know you're in the right, and can prove it, is a powerful tool towards disagreeing politely.
Blurting out your rage without thinking is a recipe for disaster. You could easily say or write something you will regret later. Many commenting facilities do not allow editing once published. Having to add an apology or explanation can further the argument in the other person's favour.
Take time to compose your answer. Sometimes this delay can help build tension which is disconcerting for the arguer. They begin to doubt themselves. So when you do deliver your well formatted response, it may have the desired impact you crave.
Quitting can be a powerful tool
And knowing when it is time to walk away from an argument is a good trait to have. It isn't necessary to keep banging on in your corner. Especially if it is a lost cause. Don't think of it as being beaten, but as a hopeless case.
The power of silence can have a very agreeable effect. The other person may continue to rant and rave at a blank wall. This is OK if they are happy about it, but they may also soon lose interest and stop. And then the world will be all the better for this.
Understanding when to call it quits shows a strength of mind. You may or may not have succeeded, but as long as your disagreeing politely was educational, entertaining or inspirational, your audience will have benefited too. And that can be a good thing.
Ready to start disagreeing politely?
How many disagreements have you had when you thought it went well for you? Not because you demolished the other person to a pulp, but because you won the argument.
How many disasters have you had when arguing your point? Do you have any tips or tricks you would like to share? People always love benefiting from other people's experiences and knowledge, especially if you can turn it into a story.
Or purely let me know what you thought about this post in the comments below. We would love to hear from you.