In my experience, every genuine disagreement I have with someone ends up coming down to one of three things:
- Differing core beliefs. “Look, when it comes down to it, I would rather someone productive and unhappy died rather than someone unproductive but happy.”
“Oh what? I would always rather someone unproductive and happy died.”
“Well we’ll just have to agree to disagree.”
- Conflicting information. “I can’t believe Julian Blanc was barred from entering Australia – sure, there are some sleazy pickup artists, but that doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t be allowed to come here just because of his job.”
“Actually, he had videos in which he explicitly encouraged men to choke strange women as a way of hitting on them.”
“Oh. Yeah, okay. I now fully support his visa being revoked.”
- Miscommunications. “So you really think that the idea of God is impossible. There’s not even a one in a hundred hundred billion chance that he exists?”
“A one in a hundred hundred billion chance IS impossible. That’s the same odds as guessing every password you encounter, exactly correctly, first time every time. That’s not going to happen – it’s impossible.”
“Well no, that’s not impossible. Impossible is something that could never happen.”
“Like what? Impossible, by that definition, doesn’t exist. There’s nothing that could never happen – only stuff that’s so unlikely that we call it impossible.”
(Those are all real arguments I’ve been a part of.)
I think of myself as an extraordinarily good communicator. I make my full-time living from writing, all of my hobbies involve communication in some way, and I used to be a great math tutor specifically because of my ability to make complicated concepts quite clear.
But I would say something like 90% of the arguments I’m a part of come down to miscommunication. Quite often, they come down to semantics – the way I’m using a word (or the way I interpreted it) is unusual. Maybe it’s just that my social circles are mostly made up of people with similar opinions and information to me. Maybe I only remember the Type 3 arguments because they go on the longest (when you’re arguing different premises, it’s amazing how much time it takes you to realize that).
“If you run into an asshole in the morning, you ran into an asshole. If you run into assholes all day, you’re the asshole.”
So I’m wondering if there’s something about me that means I communicate things strangely, so tell me – think back to the last 5 or 6 arguments you had. With your spouse, your friends, your co-workers, anyone. Did they fall neatly into those 3 categories? And if so, does one stand out as being the main cause of these arguments?
I just want to check if I’m an asshole.