Don’t Pick Up the Rope

“Yes, you did!”

“No, I didn’t!”

“I know I’m right.”

“Well, I know you’re NOT right.”

“That’s not true.”

“Yes, it IS true.”

Ever been there? I have—recently!  I call it the spin cycle—round and round and round we go, a cat chasing its tail with a frustrating inability to actually catch it.

None of us go into an argument or debate with the intention of being convinced by the “other side.” Before we even know it, we are swept into the argument by the tide of “right fighting.”  We go into it using every tool at our limited disposal to attempt to convince the other person of our “rightness,” to bring them over to “our side.”  And how many times does that work out for us? Rarely, if ever. How many times do we have to fail with this approach to seek a better way?

What if I told you that it was as simple remembering two things:  1) We are all missing something, and 2) we can choose not to pick up the rope. These are the keys to the kingdom.  And this simple shift in our approach can and will yield massively different results.

  • What am I missing? Stop trying to convince them of anything. Instead, get curious.  Assume there is something that would help both of you expand and grow in understanding and that your job is to uncover it by asking questions. Engage them in a conversation. The next time you are drawn into an argument, ask yourself, “What am I missing?” and see what happens! If we approach every situation with the certainty that there is something we are missing, we actually get further in influencing others.
  • Choose to not pick up the rope. Arguing is like the old game of “tug of war.” You pick up one end of the rope and pull hard in your direction. They pick up the other end and pull hard in the opposite direction. Neither of you gets anywhere except to eventually give up, feeling utterly exhausted. But, this tiresome game can’t even begin if we refuse to pick up the rope. You could decide that your identity is not tied to whether they agree with you or not. You can let someone else feel right about their arguments without having to convince them otherwise. You can. It is an available option. Checking our need to control and convince everyone that we are right is more about us than about them.

And I’m not talking about giving someone the cold shoulder or somehow punishing them in a passive aggressive way because they don’t agree with you. I’m talking about not picking up the rope and instead allowing them to hold a different point of view that doesn’t impact your perspective at all.

This week, when you feel compelled to argue about who’s right, get curious and start a dialogue rather than a game of tug of war, or just decide not to pick up the rope at all.

“Never argue with a fool.  Onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.”

~ Mark Twain

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