Arguments: The View From the Balcony

JoAnna Bennett

JoAnna Bennett, O’Brien Communications Group

17 May 2018

Whether you are trolling social media, sitting at the dinner table with your extended family, or trying to identify fault and resolution with a client or co-worker, you may find yourself dealing with an inevitable argument. Arguments can happen in every aspect of our lives, every day. If you encounter another human being, the chance is there. But do arguments solve anything? Or are they completely pointless? If you engage in a conversation expecting to argue, or prove yourself correct, will your tone reflect that? If you take a step back and look at the issue from a different perspective, could your outcomes become more positive?

A study done in 2013 examined the effect of interpersonal conflict experienced by nurses. The study revealed that in the nursing profession, collegial workplace partnerships are essential. If the nursing floor is to run efficiently and effectively, the entire team must work together. I can certainly understand why this is so important in a field as stressful as healthcare, but I also believe the findings of this study can be used in a broader sense. If we’re in a stressful situation, it becomes much easier to navigate if you have a support system. Isn’t that the entire premise of our military? If the man next to you matters more than yourself, the system works. If one person works against the current, it can fail.

There Are Three Sides To Every Story

And as William Ury will tell you, there are three sides to every argument. The third side being the view from the balcony. Some of us are not lucky enough to have a third party listening in on our conversations (Yikes!) and providing an outside perspective. We do, however, have the cognitive ability – if we choose to use it – to think of it from that perspective. And to react accordingly.

Since we don’t have the ability to avoid arguments, since they depend on who we run into and when, we must better prepare ourselves for when those arguments arise. Instead of purely reacting, which is our natural human tendency, we should always try to think about the balcony view. After all, an argument can only perpetuate if both parties choose to continue.