How to annoy argumentative people

This article was co-authored by Tami Claytor. Tami Claytor is an Etiquette Coach, Image Consultant, and the Owner of Always Appropriate Image and Etiquette Consulting in New York, New York. With over 20 years of experience, Tami specializes in teaching etiquette classes to individuals, students, companies, and community organizations. Tami has spent decades studying cultures through her extensive travels across five continents and has created cultural diversity workshops to promote social justice and cross-cultural awareness. She holds a BA in Economics with a concentration in International Relations from Clark University. Tami studied at the Ophelia DeVore School of Charm and the Fashion Institute of Technology, where she earned her Image Consultant Certification.

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Someone is rude when he or she is not showing concern or respect for the rights and feelings of others. Rudeness often happens suddenly in an unpleasant or shocking way [1] X Research source . Learning how to respond calmly and compassionately to rudeness is a valuable skill, especially if you will be continually engaging with this person. Rudeness can be difficult to navigate, but fortunately there are techniques you can use to disarm a rude person, protect yourself, and even repair the broken interaction. Experiencing rudeness can have a large impact on health, so exploring your options for dealing with it will lead to a happier, less stressful life. [2] X Research source

Do you ever find argumentative people love to talk about the exception to the rule? Finding the one in a millionth chance and using it as “evidence” for what could happen. It’s a great way to stress yourself out. Also a good way to determine if one is a know-it-all. Do they like proving someone wrong by arguing the exception to the rule?

Why do we do it though? Why do we cause this undue harm on our minds always trying to determine “what’s the worst that could happen?” Sure it’s good to understand what’s the worst that can happen, but to act upon it, or be planning based on it is silly. If we’re constantly worried about what’s the worst that can happen we never look at what’s the best thing that can happen! Ever bring that up in a planning session? Probably not because optimism isn’t generally looked fondly on in the business community (until lately!)

What’s the WORST that could happen? What’s the BEST that could happen?

A part of our brains are built to do this, to protect us. But that same part of your brain telling you to run from danger in a dark alley is the same part that’s holding you back from doing something amazing. In ancient times running away from what scared us was a smart tactic but in today’s world we need to seek out what scares us and push through it. Playing devils’ advocate is a way to assess what’s the worst that could happen. They problem with this is that the “worst” rarely ever happens, but our brains love to focus on the smallest negative piece of feedback. So instead of finding a solution to the obstacle in the way we think about how bad the feedback was and we never move on.

How to annoy argumentative people

Worry Warts

Have you ever met one? They thinks the sky is falling when under ground? These people can’t get through much without a comment on what’s about to go wrong. Also known as “Negative Nancy” syndrome. If you focus on what’s going to go wrong, it does much more often.

Stop worrying about things you can’t control.

Defeating the know-it-all

The reason people love to get their two cents in, is ego. When we can comment on a topic and produce a fact or opinion we think others look up to us more. If you can refute a major point the professor just made you’re going to get a shot of dopamine, you’re going to feel good. But like a young Jeph around the dinner table used to do, know-it-alls annoy the hell out of others. You don’t need to get your opinion into every conversation, let the other person have the final say for a change.

Correcting people when they’re wrong is a small way to make yourself feel smart.

The problem with this notion is that it’s false. Sure at first it feels good, but you’re trying to make yourself feel better by making someone look wrong. In How To Win Friends and Influence People Dale Carnegie says if you’re trying to build rapport with someone you should never correct them during a conversation, even when you know they are wrong. The thought process? When you correct someone for something they said wrong it makes them look less smart.

Calling out a mistake in public is a blatant display of ego, try your best not to do it.

It’s easy to disagree with people, it’s easy to be the devils advocate

You know what’s hard though? Trying to find the best in people and ideas, being Gods advocate (is that a thing?).

You know how easy it is to sit through meetings and pick apart ideas and tell others why their ideas won’t work? That’s simple, what’s really hard is the opposite. Finding beauty in others, having blind faith in someone you trusts’ idea, just to show them you support them. It’s easy to be negative and say “no lets do the same old” it’s much more difficult to say “yes, we may not be doing it right, lets try something new.”

If you continue to argue the devils’ advocate eventually people won’t bring their ideas to you

Ever heard of the “culture” analogy about the monkeys in a cage with bananas high a top the cage with only a ladder to climb up to get the bananas? If you spray each monkey every time they try to climb the ladder to get the bananas, then introduce a new monkey to the cage, the older monkey won’t let new monkey up the ladder for fear of being sprayed. Lesson learned, you’ll bread the behaviour you get. If you bash new ideas and punish those who try new things and fail, you’ll get a team that’s afraid to do anything innovative.

Wisdom is about having empathy.

True wisdom is understanding the devils’ advocates’ position but mitigating against it

Wisdom is about having empathy. Understanding another persons’ point of view, respecting them for that and still having the courage to form their own opinion. Being smart isn’t proving someone wrong, it’s agreeing with someone as well as getting them to see your side of it. Knowledge isn’t a one way street and the more you treat it like a competition the more annoying you’re going to be and the less wisdom you’ll actually gain.

How to annoy argumentative people

When You Exit Gracefully, How Can You Win an Argument?

When you're in the midst of an argument that seems like it will never end, you have two choices available to you. You can be stubborn about your point in the argument and keep it going as long as the other person will let you. Or you can back down from the argument.

Some people opt to back down but to do so in a way that's manipulative and really just postpones that argument to a later date. If you don't want to be that person, you need to learn how to back down from an argument gracefully.

Here are some tips for doing that:

  • Ask yourself what the argument is really about. Most of the time, our arguments are not about the topic that they appear to be about. Yeah, it's annoying that our husband didn't call when he was going to be late from work. But the argument isn't about the call. It's about feeling a lack of respect or fear that the relationship is changing or any number of things. If you can get to the root of the argument, you can deal with the real problem and end the petty bickering that's going on.
  • Think about the other person's side of the argument and give credence to their good points. Sometimes it's hard to see the point that another person is making when it's in direct opposition to your own. But if you take the time to step away from the argument for a minute and think about what the other person has said, you'll probably find that there's at least one valid point being made. Focus on your agreement with that point in order to end the argument. After all, a fight can't happen if only one of you is fighting. "I agree with you" ends most disputes.
  • Admit the things that you were wrong about. Just like there must be something to agree with in the other person's argument, there must be something that you can find a little flawed in your own. Find that thing and admit that you were wrong about it. This humble approach may prompt the other person to admit that they were wrong about some things as well.
  • Make a statement along the lines of, "I'm not sure that we're ever going to agree about this, but I respect you enough to stop fighting about it." Unless the other person in the argument is really petty, he or she is going to stop arguing as well. No one wants to act as though they don't respect you. This generally diffuses the argument and lets you go your separate ways with your separate opinions, the relationship still intact.

We often stay in arguments much longer than we really want to because we're afraid to lose face by backing down. It's important to remember that choosing the relationship over the current argument could be the best thing that you can do in the situation. There's nothing about that to lose face over!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


In The Doghouse from California on July 03, 2008:

I hate arguments. they don't ever seem to be productive to me. I love discussions.

optimisticbob on January 25, 2008:

As I get older I somehow need to win less. I still get frustrated by convoluted logic and dogmatic or ad hominum arguments but for the most part I don't try to chew them up anymore.

sunstreeks from Western Washington on January 13, 2008:

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Great ideas. I have a tendancy to always need the last word, it feels better doing so, but it causes more problems. He is much better at keeping a level head during our arguments.

REritr from California on January 06, 2008:

Some of us have been in relationships where no matter how fair we want to fight, the other person just doesn't get on the same page with us. Our upbringings color our reactions to things in so many ways.

My new husband and I are bascially crazy about one another in dozens of ways. But sometimes we seem to be polar opposites politically. Polotics is the ONLY thing we spat about on any regular basis. So I decided to try to find some common ground with him rather than keep pointing out our differences. He was a little surprised at first, but now even when we disagree, it's much more subdued. Who knows? this next election just might unite us both some day on that score!

Thanks for a well thought-out hub.

MortimerWorth from Germany on January 06, 2008:

Good stuff, but it takes a lot of maturity to engage your thinker like this when your mad. I always remember that in a relationship both parties sacrifice a lot. You can both be saying "I'm doing everything!" and both be right. so it's not really about being right sometimes. It's about not taking the other for granted

Zsuzsy Bee from Ontario/Canada on January 05, 2008:

Can't do it. There was a time once when I thought I was wrong; but I was wrong. He-he

We could all learn from your article, I love it

soyelude from Lagos – Nigeria on January 05, 2008:

Arguments are a part of human nature. everybody wants to win! Good hub;quite instructive too.