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How to Argue without Being Mean

What is he thinking? What’s wrong with her? How could they say those things? You want to talk back and let those friends know that you are right and they are wrong wrong wrong! How do you do that? You argue back—with Arguing Skill.  But you do it without being mean or spiteful.

  • NEVER ARGUE WHEN YOU ARE MAD OR SAD.

This is a hard one. When you feel like arguing about something, it is because the conflict makes you feel mad or sad.  But when you are mad or sad, you lose control. You just weep or stomp around. You won’t win an argument, and you might make people think you are silly. Also, when you are mad or sad, you are likely to call people names, which is a bad way to argue.

  • REALLY LISTEN AND HAVE RESPECT.

Part of being a ninja arguer is really hearing what the other person is saying. When you really understand what the other person thinks, you will be better at making that person understand you. if you really want someone to listen to you, you must listen to him or her.

  • BE SURE YOU KNOW WHAT YOU WANT AND WHY.

“Just ‘cause” is not a reason. You need to be able to say clearly and nicely what your goal is and give reasons why your opinion should win.

  • BE OPEN TO COMPROMISE.

COMPROMISE is when two people each give in a little to make a deal work. By compromising, both of you win.

Now, let’s see how these four points work in real life. Let’s start in the playground.

You’ve been playing basketball with your friends. After about an hour, Sandy grabs the ball and won’t give it back. She wants to go home and play video games. You want to keep playing, as do the other friends. You want to call her mean for taking the ball.

Instead, think. Put your hands on your hips and take a few steps, counting to ten. This gives you time to cool off (point 1).

Now, go back to Sandy and ask her why she wants to play video games rather than basketball (point 2).

Sandy says, “We’ve been playing all afternoon. It’s getting boring.” Being smart, you also listen with your eyes. You see that she’s sweaty and tired. Maybe she doesn’t want to sound weak. As her friend, you respect what she says. But there are still five of you that want to keep playing (point 3).“We’d like to keep playing,” you say. Then you reach point 4.

Compromise. So you say, “How about we use your ball and play a bit longer. I’ll drop it off at your house when it’s done.” Sandy could reply: “Mom told me not to lend the ball out.” What do you do? Here’s an idea: “How about we play for another fifteen minutes then we can all go play video games?”

Each argument is different, because the people arguing are different. The goal is to come to an agreement. The better you can argue, the better you can get along.

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