by Niall Doherty

Arguments. They can go one of two ways methinks: One way good, other way bad.

The good way happens when both sides respect each other and seek win-win. That leads to sunshine and rainbows and falafel and hummus.

The bad way happens when one or both sides care more about being right than they do about being respectful. Yup, even if you disagree completely with the opposing viewpoint — even if you believe that viewpoint to be the dumbest viewpoint in the history of mankind — you have to be respectful.

See, when we feel disrespected in an argument, we dig our heels in. Even if the other side makes a great case and we come to realize that their viewpoint is in fact superior, we won’t want to concede. Because if we do, it’s like saying that we don’t mind being disrespected, that it’s okay for the other side to act the asshole. In the end, nobody wins. Time and energy have been wasted, and all that’s left is a big shitty mess of frustration and hurt feelings.

Next time you butt heads with someone, imagine that there’s absolutely zero chance of you changing their mind, of them abandoning their viewpoint and adopting yours. Now, how can you still get along? Can you agree to disagree? Can you at least understand where they’re coming from, why they see the world as they do?

If you don’t think that’s possible, probably best to drop it and go hang out with some people you can get along with. Life’s too short.

Because nobody changes their mind unless they want to. Example: I didn’t become vegan because someone told me I should stop eating meat. I became vegan because I wanted to. I’d heard lots of the traditional arguments for plant-based diets over the years, but I shrugged them all off. I didn’t want to accept them. Nothing was going to change my mind until my mind was ready to be changed.

It comes down to this: How you argue is more important than the argument you make. Logic doesn’t matter much. Respect is primary.