Like any other human being on this Earth, I got involved, for a few times in my life, in fighting. I’m using the term “fighting” in the sense of “violent verbal arguments”, not physical fights (might go there in another post, though). Wether it was an argument with a close one, or just some harsh words exchanged with total strangers, there were for sure some pretty relevant fights, especially when I was young – and, yes, restless.
In hindsight, all these fights were useless. Almost all of them had some sort of destructive consequence as well. As I grew older – or, to rephrase this more elegantly, as I got more experienced at life – I realized it’s always better to avoid a fight, than to engage in it. Even if the cost of preventing a fight might seem unreasonably high (like when you feel you’re “stepping back”, or “giving up”) it is always better to prevent, than to engage in.
After trying out many techniques to prevent fighting, one of them slowly emerged as the most effective one. Be warned, though, that this technique involves advanced math skills and consistent practice. One simply cannot master this art without those two pre-requisites.
Here we go.
Every time you feel like arguing with somebody else, start counting from one to five. Slowly. Like this: “one”. Then “two”. After that, “three”. Feel calmer already? There goes the “four”. And you end up with “five”.
If you still feel like arguing, it means you’re not mastering the technique yet, so you should definitely start over.
Joke aside, this is the entire technique: just count from one to five, before even deciding what you’re going to say.
Fired Up Conversations And Unnecessary Fights
Now, if you re-read the title of this article, you’d notice the word “unnecessary”. It’s not “how to avoid a fight” (like any fight, or all fights), but “how to avoid an unnecessary fight”. This might imply that some fights are necessary.
Well, yes and no.
Yes, because, sometimes, confrontation is not only unavoidable, but really necessary to clear the air. Speaking up, standing out for your self, respond immediately to certain stimuli, all these are useful in certain contexts. If you’re avoiding all the fights, all the time, then you’re literally taking out friction from your life. And without friction, there’s no movement. All movement requires some resistance from the environment, something that you should push back, in order to move forward. Think of a bike and try visualizing the bike’s tires. The bike can advance because the tires are generating friction to the ground. Now imagine a tire so neat, so flat, so glitch-less, that it doesn’t generate any friction at all. There will be no movement.
And no, some fights are really unnecessary, because if it’s necessary, then it’s not a fight anymore. It’s just a fired up conversation. There’s a really important difference between a fired up conversation, and a fight. In a fired up conversation, both parties are assessing themselves strongly, but they are still in a “conversation”. Meaning goes from one part to another, it gets processed and internalized. There’s a real exchange taking place. Whereas in a fight, both parties are talking to themselves, not the the other. There’s no meaning traveling between them, they’re only expressing strong emotions.
So, how do you know which is which? How do you know when to keep confronting the other (from a space of vulnerability and openness), and when to step back?
Like I told you, it’s in the technique. Thats why you need to practice it. A lot.
As strange as it may sound, during that countdown, from one to five, you will understand where the discussion goes. You will understand if it’s still worth the effort to engage in a constructive (albeit fired up) conversation, or if it’s safer to just avoid a totally unnecessary shitstorm.