When we argue—and all of us do at one time or another—our goal is often to break the spirit of our opponent with relentless words until he/she gives in. We use the bit and bridle, the saddle and spurs technique to control him or her. Mostly, because we want to get it over with quick, or we just want to vent. Venting is not arguing.
Attempting to break the spirit causes a lack of ongoing trust, and sometimes even fear. It can destroy the connection or bond we might have had with the person, when what we’re really after is that bond or connection.
Winning an argument can be done with no harsh words, and sometimes with no words at all. It can be accomplished with only touch and body language. Try getting down to the level of your young child. No, do not throw your own childish tantrum–but stoop to a squat where your eyes meet his. Open your arms as if to hug him or her and see what happens.
Try stroking a spouse, or a friend, while making your point in a soft and steady voice. Don’t attack your business associate with what he might have done better by using words such as “You should have . . .” And literally, don’t stand over him. Always assume the same posture as his.
Successfully winning an argument, where respect is sustained on both sides, is like riding a horse bareback–no paraphernalia in between your skin and that of the horse. No reins or bit. No bridle. And no harsh words. Only a very gentle feel, an emotional exchange.
The American Indians never broke a horse by breaking its spirit. They did not ride and ride it until it gave in. Instead, they handled it with care for many days, whispering to it, feeding it, and stroking it to gain its trust. Then and only then did they very, very gently get on his back.
I choose gentleness… Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice may it be only in praise. If I clench my fist, may it be only in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of myself. ― Max Lucado