Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I Paid for an Argument

It has been said that politics and religion, should not be discussed at cocktail parties because it can start an argument.  If you do venture into those areas, and find yourself floundering, it is best to reach for the phase, "I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree!" and move on.  However, there are those people who love to argue.
I work with one such person and no matter what I say this person always has something to say about it.  At first I thought it was just me.  I was relatively new to the group and this person had been here a while and I thought they were just correcting me on proper procedure.  But now it’s been some time and I think I am pretty familiar with my job, but still this person finds fault with everything.  It is really maddening and annoying.
How should I deal with this?  Most of the time I just repeat the phase above and move on, but sometimes I get so mad I have to bite my tongue to prevent saying something I am going to regret later.  Fortunately I don’t report to this person so my outbursts might not be that risky, but you never know what the future can bring and one day that could be the case.  I think people like to argue because they just like to be right all the time.  It is a challenge to deal with those kinds of people, but I have found some things that can help.
You first have to understand that sometimes a person could have a personality disorders and you can’t do anything about it.  You also have to recognize the fact that there are always going to be impossible people.  People are different than you, they don’t think like you, their backgrounds are different, and sometimes you just don’t get along with everyone.
Understand that it's them, not you. If you're dealing with an impossible person, they probably tell you over and over again that everything is your fault. It isn't. Remember, "It takes two to tango." Chances are, they are the ones at fault and don’t want to recognize it. You will only raise your own blood pressure going to their level and taking the bait to fight.
Stay calm in the situation.  Don't reply with angry words and, whatever you do don't cry - this will only get them going. Walk away, start another conversation with a totally different topic, and maybe find something you can agree on. Redirect by focusing on something, anything positive in the situation or in the conversation.  In some ways they need to be treated like a child, so just as you do with a two-year old who is hell bent on touching that priceless antique, redirection is your only salvation.
Finally, this is your chance to be a manager.  You need to manage this impossible person so that he or she is less damaging to you.  Silence is really golden in this case, and reasoning won’t work.  Impossible people do not listen to reason. They don't recognize their mistakes and feel they have no flaws. You must understand and manage this attitude without blaming them or giving in to anger. In the end you are the better person for it.

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