7 Ways to Win an Argument

In 1974, Dr. Murray Straus of the University of New Hampshire was interested in testing the prevalent theory of the time that said “venting” works to let off emotional steam when someone is angry. Surveying over 300 college students about aggression in their homes, he found that as couples were more verbally aggressive, the amount of domestic violence increased. Surprised, he went ahead with the first national survey on this topic, interviewing 2,143 couples. Again, he got the astonishing conclusion that the higher the verbal aggression, the higher the physical aggression. It looked like venting anger is a bad idea. Dr. Straus then thought that perhaps this was because when people argue, they don’t really listen and are not trying to reason. In such an atmosphere, it really is no surprise after all, that physical aggression increases: People are frustrated and their arguments get nowhere, so they escalate. He therefore wanted to explore the idea that people who try to reason and negotiate might reduce the physical violence. Nevertheless, in analyzing the data, he found the high reasoners “are the most violent couples in the sample.” The least violent people, it turned out, took a breather when they were upset and then went and calmed down. That’s all very good, you might want to say, but how do you get there? How do you get to calmness when you and your beloved are in the middle of something far from it? The answer has several components. The first key is great listening skills. 1. If You’re Willing to Listen, You’ll Get Listened to If you know you’re right and your...
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