No matter how well-crafted your argument…
No matter how many points you make that can’t be refuted…
No matter how painfully obvious it is that your stance on the matter is, practically speaking, the correct one…
You will never convince someone who isn’t interested in being convinced.
Not arguing is the only way to win an argument.— Ed Latimore (@EdLatimore) March 24, 2021
Occasionally you may come across the rare individual who changes their mind in the face of new evidence, but these types of people go into a situation with an open mind and loosely held beliefs. Maybe calling their beliefs “loosely held” isn’t quite correct.
It’s more accurate to say that they realize they could be completely incorrect and for these people, the pain of ignorance is greater than the satisfaction of stubbornness.
The longer it takes you to realize that most people are never going to change their minds, the longer it will take you to thrive in this environment.
Until you get this, you will spend your days raging on the internet and debating in person over things that not only don’t matter, but even if they did, there’s nothing you can do about them and no prize you win for convincing the opposition otherwise.
Here’s what I recommend you do instead:
Stop arguing and starting using what you know to your advantage
There’s no point in arguing with people about money, politics, dating, religion, or whatever [insert thing beyond your control that people feel rather than think about]. Instead, just let your life and the results speak for themselves.
Simply stay focused on making the best decisions for yourself.
Do you want to win or do you want to be right?
When you’re focused on being right, you waste a lot of energy trying to prove others wrong. This almost guarantees that you’re the one who loses.
This ruins many potential friendships as well. I’ve put relationships under undue stress because I wanted to be right. Nothing changed. Even if I was “right”, it’s not like I was going to gloat and say “I told you so.”
Now there are some things worth arguing for. If someone close to you is making a fundamentally bad decision that puts their safety and freedom at risk, you have a duty and obligation to try to and talk them out of it. But if the wrong outcome of their decision doesn’t definitely put their livelihood at risk, you gain nothing but wasted time and a strained relationship.
Hell, even if their health and freedom are at risk, people don’t listen. I’ve been arguing with mom about her health for years. Not only has she not listened, her health has gotten worse. I’m not gonna be the asshole who mentions that I was right all along. Instead, I just put myself in a position where her decisions don’t affect me. This leads nicely into the other response.
Don’t argue. Just get wins in life.
When you stop arguing over things that don’t matter, some interesting stuff starts to happen.
You start to consider how you might be wrong
This only leads to more wisdom.
When you aren’t constantly defending your beliefs, you can more easily challenge them. In doing so, you find weak points in your logic and perspective which makes it easier for you to navigate the world.
You start to live by your results
When you stop arguing for why something is right, you start living it instead. When you start living it, you realize that either your approach works for getting what you want or it doesn’t.
When you stop debating rhetoric, you’re forced to confront reality. When you’re forced to confront reality, you realize that the only thing that matters are your deeds. You live by the receipts of your actions.
You gain power in the shadows
If you know of a superior way to date, eat, or make money, it’s natural that you want to share this knowledge with others. However, you’re often met with resistance instead of open arms. This is great though, because this means (assuming you’re correct) there’s more left over for you.
Many things in life are zero-sum until you get to the next level. You don’t get to the next until you shed outdated and ignorant perspectives and one of those is that you can change people’s minds. If it’s working for you, let it keep working and let everyone else learn the hard way–if they learn at all.
You become happier
You’re happier because you’re no longer stressed. You’re happier because people want to be around you. You’re happier because you aren’t arguing. It’s really that simple. No matter how innocent the debate is, your mind and body view it as a conflict and you physiologically react as such.
That last point is something that most people don’t consider. Here’s a great study on the physiological effects of arguing on your relationships. If you don’t want to read the findings, this line from it sums it up:
“Stress due to relationship conflict is associated with HPA axis activation and increased cortisol levels. Moreover, chronic or acute stress can undermine the quality of close relationships, leading to both increased interpersonal conflict…”
Arguing wastes valuable time. Do the following instead
Saw an incorrect statement on social media. Thought about correcting it. Visualized the stupid argument that would ensue.— Ed Latimore (@EdLatimore) February 5, 2021
Left it alone.
I don’t know what’s important enough to you to argue about. If you’re like most people, that list is far too long and it’s almost certainly affecting your quality of life.
Here’s a list of response strategies for arguing.
Agree and change the subject
You know that people aren’t going to change their mind so why let yourself become part of that energy?
A simple nod, agreement, and then shifting the subject to something else is an easy way to make it clear that you aren’t interested in engaging.
Tell them you aren’t interested in arguing
Some people, no matter what you do, will find a way to argue with you. I know people who insist on dragging me into political arguments. I have to remind them that I’m not interested.
To them, politics is an important thing but to me, it’s nothing but a source of misery. I’d rather work on what I can control.
As a last resort, limit time with the person
If you care about yourself then you cannot–by definition–allow people around you that degrade the quality of your life. Everyone makes mistakes, but repeatedly stepping over the line is cause for removal.
I don’t care if everything else is going well–some people only know how to interact with you in a manner that relies on negativity. Guard your sanity.
The most important reason to avoid arguments
Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?
When you want to be right, you have to argue to prove others wrong. No matter what the outcome is, you always lose that battle.