A famous quote of unknown origin says, “A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still.”
A year ago, I talked to my good friend in Los Angeles, and he told me about two of his friends who stopped talking to him; they blocked his phone calls and text messages.
He was upset. He had known them for more than 20 years. They stopped talking to him because of too many heated political arguments. He ended the conversation by telling me he was done with their friendship forever.
Recently, I’ve been flipping through the book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie.
I read the book in college, and for a time, I practiced the principles therein. I remember them working fabulously for me. During time, I forgot some of the valuable lessons, and eventually, they fell out of practice.
I don’t know about you, but since 2015, I’ve heard of many political arguments ruining long-established friendships. I’m embarrassed to admit I, too, have become entangled in many of these types of discussions, and I’ve learned some hard lessons.
Dale Carnegie says in his book, “You can’t win an argument; you can’t because if you lose it, you lose it; and if you win it, you lose it.”
How is that possible? How can you win an argument and still lose?
Of course, you can win an argument. You can shoot holes in your friend’s viewpoint and burn all their logic to the ground. You can show them facts and figures and walk away feeling as though you just won a significant debate, thinking proudly to yourself, “I showed them a thing or two!” What you don’t realize is you lost.
Benjamin Franklin said, “if you argue, rankle and contradict, you may achieve a victory sometimes, but it will be an empty victory because you will never get your opponent’s goodwill.”
What’s more important? Keeping your friendship intact or boosting your ego?
As the old saying goes, “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” Some of us have to learn the hard way. I know I have.
I’ve lost friends due to arguing, but I never intended it to be that way. I guess that’s called “unintended consequences.” I think about them a lot and wish I would have just asked them how their families were doing or what was new in their lives.
Carnegie goes on to say, in the next chapter, “the surest way to make somebody an enemy is to tell them they’re wrong. … If you tell someone they’re wrong, do you make them want to agree with you? Never! For you have struck a direct blow at their intelligence, judgment, pride and self-respect. ... It will never make them want to change their mind.”
It’s hard to hear something you disagree with, but is it really worth the fight? Not every disagreement has to become an argument. There are ways of winning someone to your way of thinking, but it doesn’t happen by arguing.
You probably didn’t become friends with that person because you agree with their politics, so why would you end it because you disagree with their politics?
Back to my friend in Los Angeles; the other day, one of the two friends who stopped talking to him called and tried to rekindle their friendship. He asked me, “How should I respond?” I replied, “What do you think you should do?”
He said he was going to forgive him and allow the friendship to move forward. He added, “If I don’t forgive him and instead hold a grudge, you could interpret that as hatred; I don’t want to carry that type of energy inside of me.”
Some of us might not be so lucky as to have a good friend call us back after blocking us, but if they do, try to remember Dale Carnegie’s advice: “You can’t win an argument.”