Argumentativeness and Verbal Aggressiveness. Two orientations toward arguing. argumentativeness. Definition: “A predisposition to recognize controversial issues, advocate positions, and refute opposing positions” (Infante) Is viewed as a personality trait
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Two orientations toward arguing
“I’m not yelling at you, I’m yelling with you.”
“I shall now poke a huge hole in your argument”
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Example: I’m not going to argue with you unless we both have a chance to speak our minds and unless you refrain from insults.”
Be polite: allow the other to speak without interruption, use a calm voice, practice empathy, allow opponent’s to save face
Example: “I can understand why you are so upset. I would be too under the circumstances.”
Define the argument: Make sure everyone agrees on what the issue or point of contention is
Example: “We were arguing about where to spend Thanksgiving, not whether I’m selfish or inconsiderate.”
Example: “Let’s deal with that issue in a minute. I want to get back to what we were just talking about.”
Recognize shifts from constructive to destructive
Example: “I realize you are upset, but that was uncalled for.”
Example: “please don’t shout at me. I can hear you just fine.”Managing verbal aggressiveness
Example: “I’m not saying you are selfish or cheap, I’m saying you didn’t pay your share for the dinner, whatever the reason.”
Be aware: Be attentive to the kinds of situations that can trigger aggressiveness:
Win-lose scenarios, personal rejection, “sandbagging” (storing up grievances)
Know when to stop arguing: leave-taking is also a communication skill:
Example: “If you continue to call me names, I’m going to hang up.”
Use a referee: invite a neutral 3rd party to observe a dispute.
People are more likely to be on their good behavior if a 3rd party is present.
Argue in a public place: Go to a Starbucks or some other public place to talk.Managing verbal aggressiveness