Chapter 10: No Dispute!
I remember a very valuable lesson learned at a party in London. It was a party to celebrate Mr. Ross Smith, an excellent pilot in World War I, knighted by the King of England, given a great reward by the Australian Government and respected throughout the United States.
That time, the person sitting next to me told a funny story that proved the quote like this: “There is one God who arranges our destiny, we have to do whatever he wants.” He said that verse in the Bible. I knew he was wrong.
And, in order to appear important and to show off my knowledge, I said that he was wrong. He said, “What do you say? Shakespeare? Impossible! Absurdity! This quote is from the Bible. I’m sure of that.” Sitting to my left is my old friend Frank Gammond, an expert on Shakespeare. So we agreed to hand this matter over to Gammond as the “arbiter”. Gammond listened, kicked me under the table, and said, “Dale, you’re wrong. He was right. It’s in the Bible.” That night, on the way home, I angrily asked Gammond: “Frank, you know this quote is from Shakespeare, right?”.
“Yes, of course it is! In “Hamlet”, in chapter 5, scene 2. But hey man! We are guests at a party. Why prove him wrong? Does that make him like you? Why not let him face-saving. He didn’t ask for your opinion. So why are you arguing with him? That won’t do you any good.”
Not only did I upset the narrator, but I also put my friend in an awkward situation. “Don’t try to argue just to win!” The friend who taught me this verse has now passed away, but that advice still helps me to this day.
This is a very valuable lesson because I am a stubborn arguments. When I was a child, I used to argue with my brother about everything in the sky and the sea. When I went to high school, learning logic and reasoning, I joined all the debates. After that, I learned how to argue and how to argue in New York, so I enjoyed arguing even more. Now that I think about it, I’m ashamed that I was once about to write a book on debate.
From that night on, I listened, I attentively, I observing the outcome of thousands of debates. I finally came to the conclusion that there is only one best way to resolve disputes in this world, which is to avoid disputes and conflicts. Avoiding it is like avoiding venomous snakes or avoiding earthquakes and volcanoes.
Nine out of ten arguments resulted in everyone being convinced that they were right, and then the two sides grew further and further apart.
But really the end result of any argument is that no one wins. Because if you lose, then obviously you have lost. And if you win, you still lose.
Why? Simply because when you beat another person, when you show that the opponent’s knowledge is poor, his argument is full of holes and his mind is in trouble, you have made his heart believes, that person’s pride is hurt, he will either be pessimistic or angry at your victory.
And you, exalted with your “victory”, you forget that when people are forced against their will, they will cling to them, get their opinions and views at any cost, from any angle, even with the narrowest point of view. So, in the end, you lose.
Many years ago, in my class, there was a student named Patrick J. O’Haire, relatively low-educated and very argumentative. He worked as a driver and then as a salesman, but with little success. He was always fighting and fighting against the very people he was trying to sell to. Every time a customer says something bad about the item he is selling, Pat blushes as if he wants to punch the other person in the face.
At that stage, Pat often won in arguments, as he recounts: “I often walked out of an office with the satisfaction that I had taught that potential but stupid customer a lesson. Obviously I taught him something but I don’t know if he felt anything and in the end, most importantly, I sold him nothing.”
I didn’t teach Patrick J. how to argue to win, but pointed out that he shouldn’t talk much and should avoid arguments. Then, Patrick J. became one of the best salesmen of the White Motor Company in New York. How did he do that? Here is the story in his own words:
“If the customer now says, “What? White trucks? Very bad! Whether I give it or not, I do not accept it. I’ll buy a car from Whose,” and I’ll say, “Yes, that company’s car is very good. If you buy a truck from that company, you will not be afraid to make a mistake. The company is reputable, attentive service”. Then he won’t be able to say anything. There is no room for debate. He couldn’t say all the time that Whose cars were the best. At that point, we left the topic of Whose trucks and started talking about the good point of White Motor truck.
There was a time when comments like that I didn’t want to hear would make my face hot. I wanted to find the weak points of that car, but the more I tried to argue, the more the customer defended it, and the more he defended it, the more convinced he was that its car was better than mine. If so, how can I sell? I have wasted many years of my life fighting and resisting. Now I have learned to behave wisely. This way is much more beneficial.”
The wise man Ben Franklin often said, “If you try to argue to win, it will be a meaningless victory, because you will never receive the goodwill and cooperation of the opponent.”
So you have to consider. What do you really want, trying to win a theoretical artificial victory or gain real human goodwill? What do you gain and lose? And very rarely does one achieve both.
A Boston newspaper quoted the following lines from a special stele:
“This is the resting place of William Jay,
The one who thought he was always right
But right or wrong,
He is still dead, no less, no more.”
You can be right, absolutely right, when you have the upper hand in an argument. But if you can’t convince others, no matter how right you are, it’s useless.
Frederick S. Parsons, a personal income tax consultant, once argued for hours with a government tax inspector over a revenue of $9,000. Parsons argues that this $9,000 is in fact a bad debt that may never be collected and, as such, should not be taxed. The inspector retorted: “I don’t need to know. Once the revenue has been declared, tax must be paid. Parsons thought: “This inspector is a cold, arrogant and stubborn man, I have arguments, no matter how much evidence I give, it is useless, the more I argue, the tougher he becomes.” So Parsons decided not to argue anymore.
He said: “I know this is a very small thing compared to the multitude of important and difficult problems that need him to be solved. I have studied tax, but only know through books, not have the knowledge and practical experience like you. Sometimes I also want to have a challenging job like you.” The inspector immediately sat up straight, then leaned back and talked for a long time about his work, about the subtle deceptions he had discovered.
The inspector’s voice gradually became cordial and then he told Parsons about his family. When he left, the inspector said he would look into the matter of Parsons. Three days later, he announced that there would be no tax on the uncollectible sales.
This tax inspector clearly demonstrates one of the most common human weaknesses. It was the desire to prove his importance. When Parsons argued with him, it was only natural that he would repress loudly to assert his authority. But when the other side recognized his importance, he immediately appeared to be sympathetic and tolerant.
The Buddha said: “Anger can never be eliminated, only love can destroy resentment“. Arguing does not resolve discord, only tolerance and goodwill to see things from the other side’s point of view can be reconciled.
President Lincoln once advised a young officer when he was having a heated argument with a colleague: “No one wants to get ahead and waste time in a private dispute. It only spoils my temper and takes away my self-control. Sometimes you also have to know how to yield to others, even though you know you have a point. It is better to give way to a dog than to fight with it to be bitten by it. Because even if you kill the dog later, the bite will not heal immediately.”
An article in “Bits and Pieces” may offer a few pointers to help you avoid disagreements and avoid getting into unnecessary arguments:
Willing to accept disagreement: “When two partners always agree with each other, only one side’s opinion is enough“. If there’s a disagreement, that’s your chance to make adjustments before you make a serious mistake.
Don’t trust your first impressions: Our first natural reaction in an unpleasant situation is to defend ourselves.
Be careful. Stay calm and cautious with your first reactions. It could be the worst, rather than the best.
Control your emotions: Remember, one can judge a person’s character by making him or her angry.
Listen first: Give your opponent a chance to share. Let them do the talking, don’t interrupt, argue or defend themselves, because that will only erect barriers of separation. Find ways to build bridges of sharing and understanding.
Find commonalities: When listening to the other person’s presentation, first pay attention to the points on which you agree.
Honestly admit mistakes: Admit your mistakes and apologize. This will cause the opponent to lose their weapons and will decrease reduce resistance.
Promise to carefully consider the other person’s opinion: Remember, the other party may be right. It’s much easier to endorse their ideas at this stage than to endure having them clapping their hands and saying, “We tried to teach you, but you won’t listen” when the possibility of failure looms. because you insist on doing your own thing.
Sincerely thank your opponent for their interest: Anyone who takes the time to argue with you is interested in the things you care about. Think of them as people who really want to help you, so you can turn your rivals into friends.
Don’t act quickly to give both parties time to think through the problem: Suggest that you both meet again another day, when enough information has been gathered to discuss. As you prepare for that meeting, ask yourself a few hard to answer questions:
Does your partner have a point?
Is there any reason?
Is it right or superior to their position or argument?
Did my reaction solve the problem or just save me from getting hurt?
Will it push partners away or pull them closer?
Is my response appreciated by good people?
Will I win or will I lose?
What price should I pay if I win?
If I keep quiet, will the conflict end?
Is this difficult situation an opportunity for me?
“When you see the other person starting to get angry, end the argument with a funny sentence” – Ph. Chesterfield
“When you argue with a person, you need direction so that after the argument, you will have another friend” – Diodore
“Never try to argue with someone higher up, but state your opinion with humility.” – George Washington
“Controversy is a game of two or two groups of people, but it’s usually not a winner.” – Benjamin Franklin
Rule 10 : The best way to resolve an argument is not to let it happen