Why You Shouldn’t Win Arguments


“If you argue and rankle and contradict, you may achieve a victory sometimes;
but it will be an empty victory because you will never get your opponent’s good will.”
Ben Franklin

There are those of us that love a good argument every now and then. However, if you’re like me you probably find yourself in arguments about something stupid, like the date a movie is released or how to pronounce a city’s name.

Why do I do this? Who knows. I suppose I like feeling right, but after reading Chapter 1 in Part Three of “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie, I realized I’m actually the one losing in these arguments.

Carnegie poses this question after sharing the above Ben Franklin quote: “Which would you rather have, an academic, theatrical victory or a person’s good will? You can seldom have both.”

Winning arguments, as Carnegie pointed out, typically does little to truly convince the other person they are wrong. But what it does do is hurt the other’s pride and make him or her feel inferior. Resentment will probably grow.

I know when I argue about the pronunciation of someone’s last name or about what type of pudding is most popular in Denmark, no one wins. I end up making someone upset over something trivial. They go away offended because I called them out and said they were wrong. That doesn’t win me many friends, does it?

With all of the self-reflection laid out for you above, now I’ll pose the question to you, Affiliate: Are you argumentative? Do you nitpick and fight to be right when it really doesn’t matter? Is it worth the bitter feelings you’ll receive when you correct a member that it’s not Diane, but Karen that is the 150 wallball workout? Isn’t there a way you could reveal the correct name of the WOD – like pulling it up on screen and reading it out loud – versus telling them to their face they are wrong?

Carnegie noted several points in the book about how to keep disagreements from becoming arguments that I’d like to list here:

  • Welcome the disagreement because you might see something you hadn’t though about.
  • Distrust your first impression of becoming defensive.
  • Control your temper.
  • Listen first.
  • Look for areas of agreement.
  • Be honest and look for areas where you can admit error/mistakes.
  • Promise to think about and research your opponent’s viewpoints.
  • Thank your opponents sincerely for their interest.
  • Postpone action to give both sides time to think overall what was discussed.

Next time you feel like arguing, think about what it will get you in the end and ask, “Is it worth it?”

Heather is the editor for Box Pro Magazine. Contact her at heather@peakemedia.com.