Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Science of an Argument

Close your eyes.

No seriously, close them.

Now, draw up a picture or create a movie of the most intense, emotional, and devastating argument you have ever been in. Really re-create those emotions that were present at the time of the fight.

Write down which of these occurred in that fight:

1. Crying
2. Yelling/Shouting/Screaming
3. Cursing
4. Damage to property
5. Physical Harm
6. Somebody leaving before the fight was over
7. Throwing of objects
8. Threats made towards the other person
9. Fun and Laughter
10. Increased heart rate and blood pressure 
11. Involvement of unnecessary people

Wait...what? Can we go back to number 9 please?

I hope this caught your eye because if you are like most arguments had by individuals, fun and (happy) laughter is rarely present.

If you did not write down any of the above events, we can cuff, print, and book you for officially being a bold face liar. Let's be honest for a second, do you really know "what went wrong" in your argument? Do you even know HOW to argue?



I can say with great confidence that most people in this world do not know how to argue. Most individuals feel as though arguing ruins relationships, causes too much stress, only turns out hurting somebody, or is never a good thing.

This logic is flawed. Arguing only has the POTENTIAL to cause those events. Just like Napoleon Hill, best selling author of "Think and Grow Rich" claimed,

"Knowledge is not power. Knowledge is simply potential power."

If you understand the science and anatomy of an argument in relationship to your personal tendencies, your eyes will open to how much of an argument you are actually in control of.

An argument is composed of 4 chapters:

1. The Approach
2. The Fight
3. The Resolution
4. The Aftermath

Just by a simple glance at this list I am sure you can start to visualize how these chapters unfold within your own arguments. Some people tend to favor putting all of their physical and mental energy into the actual fight, while others love to put their hard work to the test with the clean-up.

Before jumping into the first chapter, 
I challenge you to prioritize the 4 chapters of a fight based off your personal experience and how much mental/physical energy you feel is devoted to each of these.

My list looks like this:   

1. The Fight
2. The Approach
3. The Resolution
4. The Aftermath

Chapter 1: The Approach

This is hands down the most under-utilized nugget of gold an individual can overlook in an argument.

The Approach will directly impact the outcome of the argument
The Approach to an argument involves the mental and physiological state an individual is in prior to commencing in a fight. This state will ultimately determine the direction, intensity, and outcome of the argument.

 A) Choose 1 person you tend to argue with frequently. 

 B) Think back to the most recent argument you had with them and picture yourself just moments before the fight. 

 C) Where are you? What are you wearing? Are you alone? Are you coming from anywhere? Is this your first fight of the day? Are you stressed, happy, frustrated, excited, anxious?

How is your physical and mental state at this point?
What was the outcome of the argument?

Start to recognize patterns between your "state" prior to the argument and the outcome of the fight.

If you would like to direct the argument to the outcome you want, first define what outcome you truly desire and form a strong belief that this IS the outcome. When defining it is very important you identify what success is in each of the 3 other chapters (The Fight, The Resolution, The Aftermath).

Belief: (noun) A feeling of absolute certainty that something is true.

Some individuals see success in The Fight chapter as "no yelling", while others may identify it as "They will hear my point without interruption."

Take a look at the Success Cycle to see how your belief can transform the outcome.

A strong belief in your desired outcome will place you at the highest potential and in a peak state to perform at your best. Having strong beliefs and being at maximum potential will produce a great performance (Action), leading to successful results and in turn confirming your initial belief.

If you click and take a look my post 
"Why the Richer Get Richer and the Poor Get Poorer", 
it will elaborate this process even more.

 If you feel as though you are heading into an argument with a physical and mental state that will undermine the results you desire, you are in need of a "jarring".

Jarring: an emotional/physical shock to disrupt your current state.

Jarring Techniques:
Opponent Appreciation: Before an argument begins think about the individual and appreciate at least 3 things about them. This will jar your current emotional state and put you in a more resourceful state.

Movie Theatre Effect: Visualize yourself in a movie all by yourself. Up on the big screen is a picture of the individual you are about to get into an argument with. Create this image so it is drawing up those negative emotions regarding the fight. Once you have the picture, create a second image that is of the same individual but in a very pleasant state that you enjoy. This is a picture of the individual brings you happiness and laughter. Close your eyes, put picture one up on the screen, count down from 3, and replace picture one with picture two. Do this 7-8 times until it is almost impossible to see picture one without seeing picture two.

If you read this blog, fully participated in all of the challenges and exercise you are one your way to being a master at arguments. 

Stayed tuned for next week's Chapter 2: The Fight

Summary of Chapter 1 "The Approach":

1. Arguing only has the POTENTIAL to cause negative outcomes
2. The Approach is the most important aspect of the argument.

3. The Approach directly influences the outcome of the argument.

4. The mental and physiological state you are in prior to the argument will direct the fight.
5. If you are in a state that will undermine your desired outcome of the argument you need a "jarring".
6. Try the "Opponent Appreciation" and "Movie Theatre Effect" techniques to create a more resourceful state and get the result you desire. 

Stay tuned and Stay Positive,

Jonathan B. Wolf, Ed.M.

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