In The Ranch Hand’s Guide to 2011 I listed five guidelines that I’ve adopted to have a great year without resolutions. Let’s just get some facts out of the way. This article is not about pigs or dirt. I realize I like to talk using idioms and metaphors. If you are still wondering, rule #1 translates into “when it really doesn’t matter, you don’t need to argue with people.”
Before I was ever able to recognize this in myself, I saw this undesirable trait in other people. You know you have too. I watched someone argue over a restaurant bill. I heard friends and family members complain about their embarrassment when someone they were with argued with the Wal-mart checker. The people I know who argue do it all the time…and are pretty good at it. They usually aren’t happy with getting the last word. They need to have the last two or three words, and when I really don’t care, they are still talking about it. Those people are not good listeners and have a low tolerance for people who are different from them. It dawned on me that maybe this is how they create a positive view of who they are. I realized there were situations when I had argued unnecessarily. Yuck. It was unattractive and it had to stop.
I began practicing this rule using baby steps. I stopped talking before I had said everything I felt I “needed” to say. My opponent and I were never left any better than when we started, so what was the use? Then, I took the plunge into not even addressing the silly things that I once thought were important. Silly things. That’s the key. Who cares if I ordered rice and I got rice and beans. I like them both. Then to take it a little further, I started extinguishing the beginnings of arguments started between, for example, my husband and others. Wow! What a difference in the conversations that followed between us. Suddenly the complaints were gone and discussions of our role in the perceived problem ensued.