My plan to implement one chapter in my life:
In book three chapter one of Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, the idea that arguing is futile is expanded upon. To be blunt, Carnegie states that “You can’t win an argument. You can’t because if you lose it, you lose it; and if you win it, you lose it” (Carnegie). From an emotional standpoint, Carnegie is exactly right; everybody will lose when energy is wasted fighting. Even the ‘winner’. This is something which I feel I have understood all my life yet paid almost no heed to; I am growing to believe that this is the case for many others in the world as well.
Carnegie goes on to expand on this idea by sharing that he has “…come to the conclusion that there is only one way under high heaven to get the best of an argument— and that is to avoid it. Avoid it as you would avoid rattlesnakes and earthquakes” (Carnegie). At the risk of being hypocritical, I must say I could not agree more! I have always been one to defy authority, explore independence and challenge ideas (including my own). It is almost in my blood. My grandmother never fails to remind me of this true nature with her own memories of me as a child. As soon as I was old enough to speak I was protesting “Inanna, I can do it myself!” and opposing any help.
This is a habit I have slowly forced myself out of – to a certain degree. I have learned to accept help, and welcome constructive criticism as well. One thing that I have held onto however is my argumentative nature. While this is something that I am far from proud of, I am not ashamed either. Every fault is an opportunity for improvement. And so, with the help of those around me, either passive, offensive or defensive, my journey to end arguing has begun. This has meant many things for me. It has meant cutting people out of my life; family have become strangers and friends have become family. It has meant learning to kill with kindness. It has meant the most self restraint I have ever had to exercise in my entire life.
This will be something I will need to work on until the day that I die, however I have already come so far. My conscious actions to avoid arguments like the black plague have actually altered my mentality; I have come to a point where I no longer tell myself to avoid it, I crave the avoidance. I crave discussion, constructive criticisms, positive and knowledgeable disagreements. Suddenly, I appreciate the other side of the fence, no matter how badly I want to set it afire. I am curious as to what makes my opposition’s brain’s tick, how they came to their conclusions, and if I can enlighten them.
As I have left behind my argumentative nature, I have opened my mind to an entire spectrum of ideas, information and thoughts that have never before crossed my mind. I have effectively bettered my life by accepting that although I cannot win an argument, I can certainly conquer a debate.
Carnegie, Dale. How to Win Friends and Influence People. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1981. Print.