How to Handle Yourself Politely in a Conflict
Get tips on how to argue with class.
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Modern Manners Guy here with a look at debate manners! Well, I'm really just calling it a debate. It's probably just you getting tired of listening to that person at work or the gym or your child's play date go on and on about things that you certainly know are just not true. Do you laugh condescendingly and show them the error of their ways? Do you flip out and staple their necktie to their forehead? Do you yell words not fit for a sailor? I'm certainly not condoning those actions, but in a moment I'll have some advice that I do condone.
All right! Let's get a little situation going here. We'll say that you are at some sort of party for your club-- maybe you're even the president of the club! You've thought long and hard about what you are talking about-- plans you have for the club. And right in the middle of your thoughts, someone steps up to you and shouts out something like, “You lie!” What do you do?
Or maybe you are the parent of a child who is having an "off" day, and just as you are rounding up your kid someone lays a rude comment on you about how awful your child is. The best part is that they spring this and then walk off.
What do you do if someone is being praised for something and you think someone else deserves the award? Do you get up and snatch the microphone so your opinion can be heard? These kinds of things happen to us a lot, so it's best to be prepared in order to handle the situation with dignity and grace.
Club President Manners
Okay, so some "Joe" has just called you a liar. Do not-- I repeat-- do not jump out of your skin and pound them into submission with your fists or with a tongue lashing. Take a moment, compose yourself and continue with what you were saying. You will show those around you that you are unflappable and will win points with them. Also, the person who has just busted your chops will likely be stunned that you did not retaliate.
Should this heckler not back down, do not engage in an argument with them. Move away, change the subject, or simply be quiet. The simpleton will get tired of talking at some point. Trying to trip them up or outwit them will probably make you look rude and petty. Someone (possibly Mark Twain) once said, "Never argue with a fool; onlookers may not be able to tell the difference."
Don't stop there though.