When to Argue

by Brad Isaac on August 26, 2009

While dropping my kids off at school this morning, I heard them arguing about musical instruments. For 5 minutes I listened to “you will have to play the recorder in your grade!” followed up by “no I won’t!”

Dumb arguments aren’t confined to kids. I once sat in a 2 hour meeting where two people argued over which shade of green to pick for a sidebar on a webpage.

I think before entering into any argument we need to ask ourselves 3 questions:

1. What do I get if I win?
2. What do I lose if I lose?
3. What is the cost of this argument?

I advised my kids: If the answer to questions one and two are nothing then say “okay” and talk about something else.

Costs can come in the form of wasted time & energy, hurt feelings and loss of respect (to name a few). Some arguments are worth having. Others do not benefit us in the least – and only cost us.

So if we’re going to argue, I’m going to make sure there is a benefit to winning or a loss to losing. Otherwise, you can have this win. I’ll save up for when we have something important to argue about.

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B. Riley August 26, 2009 at 9:25 am

I agree with your assessment, and it took me a long time to get to the point where I asked myself how I am going to benefit from this.

But there are occasions where I backslide. . . There is indeed something to be said for winning. ;-)

tlcolson August 26, 2009 at 9:46 am

This was a perfect “back to earth” post for me this morning.
Rude behavior had me wanting to argue. I decided to vent and let it go.

Prathamesh August 27, 2009 at 2:12 am

Short, sweet and simple……………

August 27, 2009 at 8:22 am


Sadly, I have often only realised I was involved in a dumb argument after the event, not during.

Good to keep in mind. I like the three questions!
.-= Kaizan´s last blog ..Never Regret Anything =-.

August 27, 2009 at 3:53 pm

The question I ask myself in these situations is, “What good can come of this?” All too often there is no good that can come from many of the things I want to say. And sometimes people still get upset, “You don’t talk much, do you?” :o )
.-= Ricky Spears´s last blog ..magicJack Hijacks My Free Conference Calls to 218-339-2500! =-.

September 4, 2009 at 12:46 pm

you just give a great thing we all should think about before starting to argue. we would fix a lot of things if we did it that way. love your post, and like someone comment before: it is simple, short and so sweet. keep it that way!

September 8, 2009 at 10:20 am

This is pretty good advice. Usually when I argue, it’s because “I’m right and I want to prove you wrong,” even though it won’t do any good and I will gain absolutely nothing from it.
.-= bowling news´s last blog ..Johnson, Pluhowsky, Kulick Win in PBA Women’s Series =-.

September 8, 2009 at 1:00 pm

Arguing and fighting whether in the corporate world or personal life should be approached the same way.
.-= Dragon Blogger´s last blog ..FireFox 4.0 Coming in Late 2010 =-.

September 13, 2009 at 12:53 am

I know several people who love to argue. It’s as if their first instinct is to disagree and take the other side of an issue, whatever it may be. I suppose I’ve done this from time to time myself. I think life would be made a lot easier if we all followed your advice.
.-= Mike´s last blog ..Bronx Motels =-.

Jules September 18, 2009 at 9:30 pm

1. What do I get if I win? — RESPECT
2. What do I lose if I lose? — DIGNITY
3. What is the cost of this argument? — Possible loss of dignity.

I could be wrong on this, but it seems that this is the reason a lot of people argue (PRIDE). What do you think?

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