I was asked to talk about respectful arguing. To start with, I must say that the phrase is a bit of an oxymoron. Isn’t there something inherently disrespectful about arguing? To have differences and to talk them out is one thing. To argue is quite another. To do so is to not only disrespect the other person, but also to disrespect yourself. How to deal with that is your decision. Personally, if someone will not speak respectfully, I choose to not speak with them at all. That carries a stronger message than reducing myself to the level of arguing. Now in some situations you may well have to make some important points. You cannot just let it go. However, if you think about it, arguing does not happen until AFTER your points are made. Feeling the need then, to argue the point goes back to disrespect. Disrespect for yourself, thinking you have not been valued, or disrespect for the other person, thinking they would not in their quiet moments give some thought to your perspective. More often than not, you are heard and honored far more than you know.
Also, once you have made your point, if the other person is not willing to sit and discuss the matter with you thoughtfully, it is a waste of time and may even be detrimental. Through arguing, people dig in their heels, paint themselves into a corner, and as a result find it even more difficult to be open to your perspective. Down deep, everyone knows that you do not win an argument by silencing the other person. You need to know that the other person really does know that. It is your job to, as best you can, stay centered in your own being, your own dignity and integrity. And rest assured they will see and respect that, even if in the moment, they were hoping to defeat you.
How do you respect another? And how do you respect yourself? By coming to rest in your own being. There you find wisdom. There you find understanding. There you come to see the dignity that lies deep within all people, regardless of how they may currently be behaving. To see that is to respect them. It certainly does not mandate giving up your own dignity by meeting them on their current behavior level, if it is not a respectful level.
Remember to give people the time and space they require. Understand that they as well as you will go out of balance at times. That is alright. But when you catch that happening, STOP. Find another proper time and space to revisit the discussion. This gives both of you the opportunity to reflect. If you agree with a person or not, you need to understand them… to understand their perspective. In so doing, you open the door to evolving not only their perspective, but also yours. Do not sell yourself or the other person short. Also remember that no one ever wins an argument. You both win by turning the matter into a reflective and respectful discussion.
Now all this must be held in the context of your own personality. How you employ these principles is something you have to find within your own self, your own mastery.
How did Bruce Lee put it? The art of fighting without fighting. Or we could say the art of arguing without arguing.