Aug 21

How to Handle Arguments

In every culture, in every family, with any friend, some form of argument occurs usually on a daily cycle. Argument has picked up a bad rap over the last years, and something tells me it’s because people do not know how to understand arguments, and realize that they can be improved in almost every scenario.

Long ago, before the current age we are in, over 2,000 years ago, before people spent their lives crazed worshiping and fighting over menial concepts, there were some crowds of people who were very intellectual beings. Particularly, Greek philosophers have kind of shaped human culture, and again, this was over 2,000 years ago. There were many people who were very interested in the concept of communication, psychology, and their place in society. This was, and still is today somewhat a difficult concept to handle. Aristotle, in particular, was very interested in rhetoric, which is almost an unknown, but most people would know portray the idea of rhetoric to an argument. Aristotle believed that properly using rhetoric will create peaceful conclusions to disagreements, and truly helped influence people by using some sort of verbal judo to get get their idea across. People like Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare, among many powerful figureheads today certainly know how to use rhetoric. aristotle rhetoric

I started to become interested in rhetoric when  I was working on my communication skills. I had always believe in getting better at any skill set that you have, and also adding on new skills to my tool belt. In search of some guidance, I attended a conference in the Bay area hosted by a very famous public speaker. He discussed handling disagreements by considering three independent issues, blame, value, choice. This was actually something continually considered by the Greeks, and particularly Aristotle in the process of discovering the power of rhetoric. Following a speaking session, I got into a deep conversation with another attendee at the conference. He was a local business owner in Oakland, CA,  bedbugsoakland.com. His stated reason there was to learn how to use verbal judo to get out of tense situations with customers. He explained to me the biggest concept he learned about customer service, and arguments in general, was by simply changing the tense of the discussion. Simply, by changing the tense to a future tense rather than a past and present tense, his days and conversations were much easier, and he rarely ever was in an argument with a customer while he was in communication for him. This was the biggest thing I learned from the conference, and went out to test out this new verbal judo.

rhetoric conference

At the time after the lecture, I was still selling insurance to people. I figured working on my communication skills would always help me continue the path of being a great salesman, and as long as I dedicated my thoughts to the craft, I ensured I would be successful.

I decided I wanted to try out prospecting, but mainly having a conversation with someone just using the future tense. The first person that I tried my verbal judo on was a young couple in Starbucks in Oakland. They both looked like young couples, just in business attire, and seemed very professional for their ages. I took a seat next to them, and pulled out my laptop to do some research while I eavesdropped on their conversation.

The topic of their conversation was revolving around their future together, and whether or not they wanted to remain in the bay area and pursue higher income jobs, or move to the suburbs and settle down with a family. I could tell the topic of their conversation was about money, after she brought up the fact that she did not know what to do with the money in her savings account, and was disappointed in the interest she was getting. She also expressed doubt over the value of the money in her 401k. As soon as I hear that word come up in a conversation, I know I can always provide value.

So I approached her and told her I heard her complaining about the value of the money in her 401k, and if she was interested in getting a less sketchy fund, and secure her money for the future. I presented the idea to her that whatever she does now, her future self will remember, and that she should really consider that choices that she makes that could affect her future.

Since I was using the tone of talking about what she can do in the future, rather than what she “should” do right now, I never got the look from either of them to “buzz off.” They were actually both receptive, and asked what kind of places to put their money are the smartest options that they could make for their future, and at that point, I realized the power of the future tense.


The future tense works in all kinds of conversations. Whether it be talking to your children about homework they need to do, or talking to your significant other throughout the day and remain on peaceful terms.

Even if you do not get it right, just think about how you can shape any conversation into choices that can be made in the future, and you will set yourself up on the right track to becoming a rhetoric verbal judo master.

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