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lizardman
Jun 30, 2007

by R. Guyovich


I know this topic is pretty E/N, but although I'd like to use my family as an example, I was really hoping we could have a constructive discussion for dealing with people who argue a LOT.

My family has been arguing with each other my entire life and well before. I don't think a week went by when my parents weren't fighting with each other, or one of them was fighting with my older brother, or both my parents were fighting with my brother, or my parents were fighting with each other and trying to rope my brother in on their 'side'. It eventually led to a long and bitter divorce, but that wasn't the end of the arguing - many a family get-together has been highlighted by arguments, complete with yelling, crying and breaking things.

As a child for the most part I think I dealt with the environment as well you could reasonably expect, but I'd be lying if I said the charged family dynamic didn't effect me. Although I don't get into many arguments myself, I don't think my defense mechanisms are all that healthy, either. I'm pretty sensitive to conflict and while I try hard to keep positive and upbeat, deep down I have a pretty avoidant personality.

My mom, dad, and brother all have arguing in common, but they're each a bit different in personality, so each 'type' might require different approaches:

- My dad is incredibly uptight (He once turned the car around and went back home on our way to a Christmas party because my mom refused to put on a seat belt. Yeah, she should wear a seat belt, but we were only going across the neighborhood). He's very critical and enjoys cutting down other people (for a while he was the type of guy who likes to "get even" with aggressive drivers on the freeway). He's very critical, is quick to correct others and tries to come off as the smartest guy in the room - to his credit, he is a pretty sharp guy. He postures himself as a man of unwavering conviction but over the years it really seems like it's just an excuse for him to never step outside of his comfort zone.

- My mom is very sensitive to criticism (or perceived criticism) and is extremely defensive and is the loudest and most aggressive during fights, but also the first to cry and try to make pity plays: often, she seems to desperately want people to feel sorry for her and has a bit of a martyr complex. She's often "the last one standing", others will have finally given up and just sit there with stern looks on their faces while she will still be standing and yelling (to no one in particular) about the situation.

- My brother is almost the worst of both worlds: he's aggressively righteous and is visibly bothered when someone disagrees with him on just about anything. He's quick to take offense to something but has a passive aggressive streak: he'll be sarcastic and obviously bothered by something and will wait for someone to call him out on his attitude so that he doesn't have to be the one to 'start' something. He's learned to "embrace the argument" and insists that through arguing he's "talking through the issue" despite him making most arguments very personal very quickly. (Personally, I have not once ever seen anything constructive come out of our family fights. In fact, no one's ever apologized to anyone and no one's ever "made up". Arguments simply end because someone leaves or everyone's just too tired to keep it going).

Despite the kind of long, personal post, I don't want this to exclusively be about my family. Combative personalities are a thing and I think it's worth discussing what makes them tick and how to get along with them, and to diffuse heated situations.

PS: No arguing. Please?

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ChairMaster
Aug 22, 2009

by R. Guyovich


Just leave when the stupid poo poo starts up, ain't no reason you need to stick around for that.

FilthyImp
Sep 30, 2002

Nope



ChairMaster posted:

Just leave when the stupid poo poo starts up, ain't no reason you need to stick around for that.
Yeah, pretty much. You could just make it into a defense mechanism thing where you just slink away or verbally make it clear that you're not taking this poo poo anymore and you're out the moment it starts.

Its not likely to make a lick of difference, as what these folks need is counseling/a change of scenery. At the very least, YOU won't be around to feed into the argument.

Offer to help if you feel like its the thing to do.
At some point you just have to be okay with the idea that they're adults and they will have to make an effort to change their approach to things.

indoflaven
Dec 10, 2009


Don't take the bait. Don't raise your voice.

Bip Roberts
Mar 29, 2005





indoflaven posted:

Don't take the bait. Don't raise your voice.

This is all wrong. You need to raise your voice the loudest thus winning the argument.

Bloody Penguin
Apr 3, 2009

I was hoping to come up with an objection while banging on my desk, Your Honor. ...I didn't.

Bip Roberts posted:

This is all wrong. You need to raise your voice the loudest thus winning the argument.

false. By remaining calm and reasonable, you show that you are the smartest and therefore right.

Not a Children
Oct 9, 2012

Don't need a holster if you never stop shooting.



The reason they call them arguments instead of negotiations is because you have zero chance of impacting the other person's view on the matter.

The only winning move is not to play.

lizardman
Jun 30, 2007

by R. Guyovich


Haha, well I'm feeling better about my defense mechanisms then. I usually just try to get out of the area when it happens. In fairness, it's been a little while since they all really got into it. There's grandkids in the mix now so (hopefully) they're learning to mellow.

I've seen my sister-in-law pretty awesomely just shut my brother down when it looked like he was about to start up about something: she just looked him in the eye and calmly said: "Don't argue". Wanted to high-five her right there and then.

Captain Mog
Jun 17, 2011


My family used to argue all the time when I lived there. The best thing to do is not be involved. If someone tries to argue with you, do your best to deflect or answer calmly and in compromising terms- ie, use lots of "I understand where you're coming from, but..."-style statements. This makes you seem more intelligent (as someone else said) and therefore it makes the other person much less likely to continue to argue with you.

horribleslob
Nov 23, 2004


Sometimes people are crazy. I often just feed their delusions.

For example, if they're a religious nutjob, instead of appealing to their higher faculties like reason and logic I just placate their insane beliefs.

"Salaam malaykum"
"Thanks God"
etc

If they're racist I'll just let em be racist. What's it to me? I'm supposed to change everybody's opinions all the time? If somebody is being racist I'll just be like "yah man totally". Just nod and agree like some idiot.

This applies to any kind of bigotry really. You know how those ladies get, am I right folks? Am I right??

Politics. Same thing. Let em believe whatever it is they already believe. It's not your job to change their opinion. Odds are they don't vote anyway. You think I wanna waste my life explaining the intricacies of the I/P conflict to somebody who can't be bothered to look up the history themselves before they form their opinion? Like Mac Dre said, "it's not my job."

Let your family be pieces of poo poo. See them every so often, be as nice as possible, then go back to your life where you choose your friends and neighbors.

Don't date bitches and don't make rear end in a top hat ignorant friends. Become ruthless with the time you spend with people.

But when it comes to your family/people you can't change/those you just meet, just let em act however it is they act. Unless they have a legit intellectual curiosity, you cannot make them change their perceived personalities problems.

hth

Vim Fuego
Jun 1, 2000

I just had an epiphany: the internet is useless!





Ultra Carp

Go to therapy op.

Tiggum
Oct 23, 2007


Lief posted:

If they're racist I'll just let em be racist. What's it to me? I'm supposed to change everybody's opinions all the time? If somebody is being racist I'll just be like "yah man totally". Just nod and agree like some idiot.

This is a really bad way to go. That just encourages them to continue. If you call them out on it it probably won't change their opinions or anything, but they'll learn to avoid those topics while you're around. The goal isn't to make them agree with you, it's to make them shut up.

Suspicious Lump
Mar 11, 2004


Sounds like my family. I moved out of "home" (it's not a loving home any more) and they still think they can tell me what to do. At first I was angry at them, then avoidant, then again angry then through a good friend who helped me see the light I learned to accept. Why I was angry doesnt matter to be honest, what matters is what you decide to do. I decided to accept they will never change and to deal with them in a specific manner. They wanted to "discuss" certain things (marriage, job/city, religion) and at first I would avoid the issue. Now I simply tell them I'm not talking about it because we've already discussed it. I did do that, I did discuss what I wanted and will do. Did I want to come back to live with them? No that's not going to happen (as opposed to previously "I will think it about it"), I have a good job here. Do I want to get married/when will I get married/how about your cousin? No I dont because of A and B and C. No mum I'm not gay, No mum I am a real man, No mum there isn't something wrong with my head.

I fear confrontation, even with in relation to something tiny like telling my housemate to clean my blender. It makes me anxious and nervous but I stand my ground and state what I think calmly. I also perceive all discussion as an argument and this isn't healthy. My girlfriend has to remind me when we're discussing something because I think it's a personal attack. I have to step back and think about it calmly and this usually helps.

If someone does take things personally, I think telling them "This is not personal attack" does help. Also explaining your position clearly stops misunderstandings and further problems.

Do not listen to anything Lief is saying. Good troll post though heh

wilfredmerriweathr
Jul 11, 2005


Just ignore them. They all sound pretty toxic and at some point you gotta decide if spending time with "family" is worth putting up with people like that.

In my case, it wasn't.

horribleslob
Nov 23, 2004


Tiggum posted:

This is a really bad way to go. That just encourages them to continue. If you call them out on it it probably won't change their opinions or anything, but they'll learn to avoid those topics while you're around. The goal isn't to make them agree with you, it's to make them shut up.

lmao we got a live one.

stoop kid's afraid to leave his stoop! stoop kid's afraid to leave his stoop!

stoop kid's afraid to leave his stoop!!!

just let em be as they are. it's not YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to make people align to your world view. it's NOT YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. furthermore it's not your right either. your world view is completely irrelevant and you should not impose it on others.

you have no right to go up to people and tell them how to feel. even if you think you do you don't.

if you do that you must accept the consequences (including your family members disagreeing and yelling at you.)

you cannot go around and further your agenda (eg. counseling your family) without their consent. you will get tired and angry and make threads on the internet.

go back to e/n where reality is not a consideration. i don't even know if you post there BUT YOU PROBABLY DO.

don't change your mind. it doesn't matter if you do. live your life.

hth

lizardman
Jun 30, 2007

by R. Guyovich


Lief might be going a bit too far (I don't think anyone should just 'nod and agree' to racism), but the general spirit of what he's saying is right, I think. I mean, the entire reason the people I know are so argumentative is because they simply can't let go of something being 'incorrect', or feeling insecure/threatened by an opposing viewpoint.

buckets of buckets
Apr 8, 2012


Have you tried hitting them? Or a round of LSD/magic mushrooms?

Rhymenoserous
May 23, 2008


ChairMaster posted:

Just leave when the stupid poo poo starts up, ain't no reason you need to stick around for that.

I've done this once with my family and it worked. Simply stood up and said "One of the nice things about being an adult is that I don't have to put up with it when I'm talked to like I'm a child." then I left.

EDIT: Just for context, I was meeting my parents/girlfriend for dinner and I came directly from work, I had been doing cable runs in our warehouse (I'm an IT dude) so was wearing some pretty ratty jeans (Actually had mostly gotten torn a bit while doing the cable runs, so they got ratty while I was at work, not dirty just a little torn up). Going home to change would have been an hour round trip so wasn't going to happen in time, and immediately I got dressed down because my jeans had tears in them "I can't believe you would present yourself in your workplace like that/no son of mine would blah blah" no chance given for explanation and any explanation rebuffed so the dressdown could continue. I hadn't lived with them for 10 years, I simply didn't have to put up with that poo poo anymore so I didn't. Sorry mom, 98% of my job is in a nice cushy office where I can wear business casual. The other 2% is unfortunately dragging cat5 between a pair of concrete piles that snag and tear my jeans I wore specifically so I wouldn't trash a suit.

Rhymenoserous fucked around with this message at 21:18 on Aug 13, 2014

redreader
Nov 2, 2009

I am the coolest person ever with my pirate chalice. Seriously.



Dinosaur Gum

If you want to be really childish and piss people off you can always tell them that you agree wholeheartedly, Then they drop it after a bit. If they don't then they're just ranting at you and you need to GTFO.
Edit: apparently this has been covered. but yeah it works.

photomikey
Dec 30, 2012


I agree with the poster who said "get therapy". Despite your distaste for the behavior, you will slowly turn into that as years pass. Therapy helps prevent and deal with that.

A wise person once told me "don't wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty, but the pig loves it."

I have mastered the smile, nod, pass the bean dip strategy. When someone is on a diatribe, let them finish, then smile, nod, and change the subject. This worked when my father (who had never changed a diaper in his life) explained to me that cloth diapers were actually worse for the environment because of how much water they use. It also works when he talks about WTC 7 or anyone on Fox News.

Overall, I just don't play ball and it works for me. My family is probably not as bad as yours. When I visit family, I rent a car (so I can leave whenever I want, for however long I want). This drives my dad (the owner of multiple cars) batty, as he would much rather I borrow a car, but I just don't need the rug pulled out from under me at the last moment.

Rhymenoserous posted:

I've done this once with my family and it worked. Simply stood up and said "One of the nice things about being an adult is that I don't have to put up with it when I'm talked to like I'm a child." then I left.
Just to give OP another option on this tactic, I will up and leave 5 minutes after my arrive, without the angry statement, just that I've got to be going. For me, them getting all lovely and me getting lovely back at them just lets them win. I'd much rather have them be lovely at me and me smile and declare I've got to be going, and them answer with a bewildered, "but you just got here!".

photomikey fucked around with this message at 04:41 on Aug 15, 2014

lizardman
Jun 30, 2007

by R. Guyovich


photomikey posted:

I agree with the poster who said "get therapy". Despite your distaste for the behavior, you will slowly turn into that as years pass. Therapy helps prevent and deal with that.

The thought of this makes me sad. I need to get up off my rear end and get some therapy.

I have a younger brother who married young and his wife has a family at least as argumentative as mine is. Our families wound up getting into a big public quarrel after his graduation - I wasn't there for this, thankfully, and I find it shameful that both families let that happen (regardless of who was 'right'), though the one little silver lining about that was that my family was in agreement about something for once...

The worst, though, was that my younger brother was not a part of the argument himself. From what I understood he mostly just stood there, dressed up, looking sad while everyone was screaming around him. I don't get as many chances to talk with him as I'd like these days, and when I do it's not like I just wanna bring up out of the blue how lovely our family is, but I hope he realizes that this isn't normal, and he doesn't have to just accept that behavior from people even if they're family.

photomikey posted:

I have mastered the smile, nod, pass the bean dip strategy. When someone is on a diatribe, let them finish, then smile, nod, and change the subject. This worked when my father (who had never changed a diaper in his life) explained to me that cloth diapers were actually worse for the environment because of how much water they use. It also works when he talks about WTC 7 or anyone on Fox News.

This is ringing some bells. You know that term thrown about in feminist circles, 'mansplaining'? Yeah, my Dad does that all the time, and while you can certainly excuse a father for falling into that with his children now and then, he does it with everyone.

My Dad is actually the least hot-headed of the trifecta but I feel trying to have a normal conversation with him is the most exhausting, and I think it's cause he's, in effect, always arguing regardless if anyone is opposing him. Not even necessarily ranting; he could be outwardly pleasant and talking about something non-controversial, but he'll talk as though he's always 'making a case' for something, and kind of expects that in return: if you try to bring a subject up with him, he'll present a line of questioning that makes you feel defensive even if you're not trying to be. You get this general feeling with him that everything's existence must be justified, or in other words 'everything is stupid until proven otherwise'.

photomikey posted:

Overall, I just don't play ball and it works for me. My family is probably not as bad as yours. When I visit family, I rent a car (so I can leave whenever I want, for however long I want). This drives my dad (the owner of multiple cars) batty, as he would much rather I borrow a car, but I just don't need the rug pulled out from under me at the last moment.

Just to give OP another option on this tactic, I will up and leave 5 minutes after my arrive, without the angry statement, just that I've got to be going. For me, them getting all lovely and me getting lovely back at them just lets them win. I'd much rather have them be lovely at me and me smile and declare I've got to be going, and them answer with a bewildered, "but you just got here!".

Wow... I can't imagine how offended/angry my folks would be if I upped and walked away from them like that (though you're right that doing so is much better than partaking in the lunacy).

Just to reiterate, I am hardly ever involved in family fights, and I sometimes even sense some resentment from them for that, like I 'don't care' about the family. And hell, maybe they're right; I'm never fully comfortable at family get-togethers and am the most reluctant to attend them.

Which reminds me of another moment years ago, the family was together at my older brother's place, I was tired in general along with a malaise that I tend to get whenever the family is all in one place, I wound up excusing myself and heading home early. From what I'm told, my mother remarked that I was 'acting strangely' and my older brother responded that it was probably because I hated her. A huge shouting match between them commenced.

Yeah... therapy. Let me see who's covered on my insurance.

spwrozek
Sep 4, 2006

Sail when it's windy



lizardman posted:

Lief might be going a bit too far (I don't think anyone should just 'nod and agree' to racism), but the general spirit of what he's saying is right, I think. I mean, the entire reason the people I know are so argumentative is because they simply can't let go of something being 'incorrect', or feeling insecure/threatened by an opposing viewpoint.

I do this though. I live and work in Denver but travel to Texas for work a lot. Guys I work with will call you Jewish for not going out to save money, every thing is 'gay', they will refer to blah black folk as stupid n.... Etc.

I still have to come back and work with them every few weeks, so I just nod and smile or go uhhhhhh OK. I think it is pretty obvious I think it is wrong or whatever but they are going to be who they are. The thing really is that I don't care though so why bother. Doesn't offend me.

Malcolm
May 11, 2008


It can be fun to agree with a position you disagree with, and take it a step further. Once in a while you can shock someone into realizing how radical a position they hold (but not often). Mostly it just feeds ignorant views though.

Point: "If everyone had a gun to defend themselves, there would be no crime!"
Counterpoint: "Yeah! Guns are awesome. Even better would be if everyone wore a suicide vest, so if a thug tries to rob you they know you'll just detonate and blow up the entire area."

Or if you're on the defensive and answering a bunch of questions, flip it around and force the other party to take a firm stance.

Point: "Carbon credits are stupid, they are a needless tax that only hurts business."
Counterpoint: "What do you think is a reasonable way to limit pollution emissions? Where would you draw the line, should everyone on earth be able to create an infinite amount of pollution? 10,000 times the current limit? 100 times?"

Get them to say a number and there may be some actual transfer of ideas/viewpoints. If they won't take a stand and you're talking about religion/abortion/politics, good luck because you aren't changing any minds there. In that case this is correct:

Not a Children posted:

The reason they call them arguments instead of negotiations is because you have zero chance of impacting the other person's view on the matter.

The only winning move is not to play.

Jeza
Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.


The best part about agreeing with people who you disagree with is making it patently obvious you're only saying it to make them shut up.

I recommend a combination of "Yep, sure, whatever you say." in your most patronising tone, then turning to look at your phone or just walking away.

horribleslob
Nov 23, 2004


spwrozek posted:

I do this though. I live and work in Denver but travel to Texas for work a lot. Guys I work with will call you Jewish for not going out to save money, every thing is 'gay', they will refer to blah black folk as stupid n.... Etc.

I still have to come back and work with them every few weeks, so I just nod and smile or go uhhhhhh OK. I think it is pretty obvious I think it is wrong or whatever but they are going to be who they are. The thing really is that I don't care though so why bother. Doesn't offend me.

i can't teach you how to change your parents' minds over the internet but you're prolly doing it wrong -- let em believe, man.

people change their minds all the time, often spontaneously. what can you do

how many times you gonna attempt the impossible.

some people out there want their minds changed and those people are called scientists.

your bigoted father is probably not a scientist. you're just pissing him off with your facts and figures.

Herstory Begins Now
Aug 5, 2003


A lot of people thrive on conflict or argue just to argue. They can be fun in small doses, but you can't really take anything that they say personally, nor should you waste time worrying about their lovely opinions.

spwrozek
Sep 4, 2006

Sail when it's windy



Lief posted:

i can't teach you how to change your parents' minds over the internet but you're prolly doing it wrong -- let em believe, man.

people change their minds all the time, often spontaneously. what can you do

how many times you gonna attempt the impossible.

some people out there want their minds changed and those people are called scientists.

your bigoted father is probably not a scientist. you're just pissing him off with your facts and figures.

My dad is a cool guy from Michigan??

What are you talking about?

Posh Chinchilla
Feb 1, 2006
Bo-oi-oi-oi-oing!

I can't give you much better advice that "Read all the posts on Captain Awkward about boundaries".

Read all the posts on Captain Awkward about boundaries.
http://captainawkward.com/tag/boundaries/


Then maybe the rest of that site which is full of good advice for getting around awkard situations, it rules.

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horribleslob
Nov 23, 2004


spwrozek posted:

My dad is a cool guy from Michigan??

What are you talking about?

srry i wasn't talking about you, just speaking generally.

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