11102014 Defending Yourself Can Backfire

Let’s face it: many times you are often right about something. When you are confronted by someone with superior debate or wordplay skills, it doesn’t take long to feel very defensive. Or stupid. Argument isn’t always about being right – many times it is about dominance. Why would you want to engage in that sort of behavior automatically? Some people are astoundingly good debaters and orators. Some are blowhards.

You should generally be open to listening to ideas and evaluate them based on merit – otherwise it is probably indicative of you being the one with the problem. But you also always have the final say about when or if you are going to listen to them. Anyone who is verbally bullying you into “listening” should be shooed away as quickly as possible.

I don’t know about you but I don’t learn much when I’m being screamed at. Or intimidated. Or when it feels like anything short of totally voluntary. I don’t need Bill O’Reilly in my life.

I have a couple of people in my life who are so confrontational about any difference of opinion that I don’t even engage, even if they erroneously conclude that they have talked me into a loss. People who are really great at argument always rephrase your point to either ignore it to belittle it.The only real loss is one involving your time and energy.

(We’ve also learned that the only way to win is to not play the game.)

Many people also tell me that I come across as smarter and self-confident when I choose to stay silent. But mostly, like many people, I find it hard to not engage. The more pompous the accuser, the more difficult it is for me to avoid putting my foot in the other person’s mouth.