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When to Walk Away From an Argument

Some people can have an intelligent debate for an hour, while others lose their cool in the first 5 minutes. Modern Manners Guy has 3 tips on how to walk away from an argument without losing your cool, your reputation, and your manners.

By
Richie Frieman,
January 20, 2014
Episode #280

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Tip #2: Your Comfort Zone

In some professions, arguing is as much a part of the job as having to wear a suit and tie. But unless you’re a lawyer or prizefighter, arguments aren't part of your work life. I'd guess that for the majority of us (myself included) arguing is a hassle, it's annoying, and highly unmannerly. When you raise your voice, you lose control. Whether right or wrong, you’re giving away a piece of your own power, your leverage, to hold your rising tone.  We all do this though. We can’t help it. But it’s how you harness that energy that separates mature adults from hair-trigger teenagers.

As I said in Tip #1, some people lose their temper quicker than others, because that’s all they know. They use their tone and body language to push people around, and don’t care about hearing anyone else’s story, regardless of how wrong they are.

I can’t stand these people!

Personally it makes me uncomfortable to be around them, and I refuse to engage in an argument with this type of person. It’s just outside my comfort level. This is why I try to avoid loud arguments at all costs.

Please understand that this does not make me a pushover. Being mannerly doesn't mean being a wimp – it’s about being respectful of those around you and of yourself.  So when I'm in a situation where I feel a nasty argument coming on, I ask myself “How deep am I willing to take this?” and "How much aggression am I comfortable with?"

Answers to these questons will help you determine your comfort zone. If you know that anything past that point may take you into an unsafe area, where you might say something you will regret later, you will see it coming and walk away.

You are not admitting defeat, you're simply keeping a promise to yourself that you won’t fall into someone else’s anger trap.

Tip #3: Drop the Mic

As a fan of stand-up comedy, I love watching how comedians end their sets.  The really good ones end with a killer joke that makes everyone stand up and beg for more. Maybe the comedian comes back out to say thanks and wave, but that’s it. A good comedian ends with homerun, then “drops the mic” and it’s curtains. That’s how you make a statement – that’s how you say, “It’s a wrap!”

Comedians use their wit and quick thinking to shock their audience. That’s a great skill to have in an argument. Of course, if you've ever tried stand-up comedy, you know it's not nearly as easy as they make it appear.

You can use the "drop the mic" technique to walk away with your head held high from any argument. Say you're in a heated discussion with someone and you can see it going to the dark side. Instead of engaging any further, simply make your point, make it intelligently, don’t leave any questions on the table, drop the mic, and walk away. If your opponent yells at you to come back to finish the argument – well, who looks silly now? Not you.

By dropping the mic, you leave the stage in control; you have the last word.  When you walk away, it’s on your terms. Who can argue with that?

As always, if you have another manners question, I look forward to hearing from you at manners@quickanddirtytips.com. Follow me on Twitter @MannersQDT, and of course, check back next week for more Modern Manners Guy tips for a more polite life.

Do you have any recent graduates in your circle, or perhaps someone who is looking to start a new career, check out my book, Reply All…And Other Ways to Tank Your Career for great tips and advice on job success. It's available now!

Frustrated man, microphone, and women arguing images courtesy of Shutterstock.

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