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So what normally happens in an argument?
Watch this video by Daniel Cohen titled "For argument's sake":
Cohen said that there are three types of arguments, namely "argument as war, argument as proof, and argument as performance.", with the war example being the most common one where two parties come together and argue to defend their own points of view. Most people will come into these conflicts and arguments emotionally charged; the level of emotions may depend on the individual. At the end, more often than not, the situation will end up with one party winning and the other losing, and both parties will walk away with the thought of being unable to convince the other party of their own views.
But Cohen seemed to indicate that the real winner may be the one who earned cognitive gain:
"Okay. Who won that argument? Well, the war metaphor seems to force us into saying you won, even though I'm the only one who made any cognitive gain. What did you gain cognitively from convincing me? Sure, you got some pleasure out of it, maybe your ego stroked, maybe you get some professional status in the field. This guy's a good arguer. But cognitively, now -- just from a cognitive point of view -- who was the winner? The war metaphor forces us into thinking that you're the winner and I lost, even though I gained."Back to the main cause of arguments in relationships:
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So how do we solve these arguments??
- Be open to discussion and ideas: It is often very difficult to hold back our thoughts and voices, and let the other person talk during an argument. However, in a successful discussion, it would be best if everyone could have a chance to communicate their ideas and points of views, and everyone being very open to everyone's else ideas. This is the best situation where everyone wins as all has cognitive gains during this discussion.
- Be a good listener: This is where your listening and attending (aka 'counselling') skills have to come in. This adds on the first point of being open. Being a good listener yourself will show the other person that you are willing to listen to him/her, and hence increases the chances that you will be heard later as well. This also helps in improving the relationship between the two parties, instead of worsening it like most arguments.
- Discuss about the topic/idea not the person, without being too emotional: Note that during the argument, you should always stay on the discussion of the topic/idea, rather than scolding or calling names towards the other party. The discussion is about the topic/idea, not the person. You also have to be mindful that your emotions have emerged as a result of your involvement of the topic/idea, but the emotions should not be taken into the discussion. The discussion is about the topic/idea, not about you or your emotions.