Conflicts are important because they can lead to solutions, treaties and hugs (always welcome here). But arguing well is a skill that needs regular practice.
The following guide is for arguments between you and somebody less wise than you, i.e. a teenager. It’s not meant for controversies with small children, though. Disputes with jumping-up-and-down-toddlers with strings of snot in their hair are dealt with by: squatting to eye-level, engaging soothing voice, employing Aristotelian logic to justify why they can’t have an ice lolly for supper.
1. Don’t initiate an argument in the car unless you are the driver.
2. Pick a time when they’re already grumpy: they won’t be able to accuse you of ruining their day.
3. Start a fight when you’re not at home: the paintwork around the doorframes will thank you.
4. Don’t raise your voice if their voice is deeper and louder than yours.
5. Talk over them so that you can’t hear what they’re saying. It’ll minimise the risk of you being swayed from your wiser, superior convictions.
6. Make wide-ranging statements, shoot generic accusations and pad your sentences with ‘always’ and ‘never’: fighting one ‘blanket’ argument is more efficient than entertaining separate ones for different issues.
7. Increase your credibility by showing off your credentials, stressing how you got to where you are by your wise choices, superior acumen and tireless hard work.
8. Don’t be egotistical: it’s not about you. Don’t say “Last night I worried when you weren’t home by the time we agreed, because I love you and I feared something might have happened to you”. Instead, put them and their feelings at the centre by saying something like “You couldn’t be bothered to respect my curfew because you hate me and are trying to send me to an early grave.”
As always, feel free to add to my list!