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A Thoughtful Argument

communicators-150One of the hardest things to do sometimes is it make a clear point when other people say things that aggravate you. When the Internet first came around and people held conversations online, there were the ever proliferating “flame wars”. It continues in comments on blogs, Facebook discussions, Twitter posts and so on. These kinds of conflict, though they can lead to productive outcome sometimes, tend to strain conversation. It’s important to start off with a thoughtful premise, so you can minimize these conflicts and realize productive conversation.

Rein in the Rant

We are all tempted to embellish our frustration by writing a verbose, witty, cutting rant. It helps us let off a little steam. It gives us a sense of power by cutting into “the haters”. It makes us feel smarter if we think we’ve made a smart comeback. However, this kind of behavior falls along the same lines as “revenge” rather than “justice”, and we must set the example.

Disagreement is a part of life, and when people are in our way, it’s even more aggravating. It doesn’t feel like a friendly challenge when people criticize our views and certainly not when we can see clearly what “should be done” as they step in our way and try to steer things in a different direction (usually away from our goals). Spitting acid from our tongues won’t help. We can’t really take such challenges at face value, so to speak. We need to see them in the larger context of growth that benefits everyone, especially online with less fluid conversation.

Clarify Goals

It may seem obvious, but it’s important to clarify why you’re making a case. Sometimes, people think this is simply emotional persuasion meant to get people to identify with you. More accurately, it helps other people understand you better. Maybe they don’t actually have the same goal. Maybe they do. Putting a clear statement of intent in an argument can help connect to the right people or put better definition around a disagreement.

Acknowledge Concerns

One of the more important tasks of meaningful conversation is to really get at the root of a disagreement, which sometimes means being able to address concerns thoughtfully. You may still disagree, but if you show you understand where people may be frustrated, it at least shows you’ve been listening. Then, people who disagree at least feel heard. That may even help them to listen to (or read) your argument with a more willing mind.

Establish Possible Solutions

People can be so focused on finding that single right course of action, they forget there may be many possibilities to try. Solutions must address goals and concerns. Some courses of action may not actually address a clear goal even if they respond to concerns. Some courses of action may help with the stated goal but fail to consider some concerns. It can help in the process of making an argument to explore different courses of action while examining concerns and verifying the goal.

Hopefully by following these guidelines you’ll be able to persuade others more convincingly and still get a sense of satisfaction. You may even find yourself opening up to other arguments as you realize how important other views are. Through the process of a more carefully crafted argument, you may even find a solution that many people can support and which inspires action.

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