Why You Should Recognize and Retreat From Blank Arguments

A common practice of people who do not like you, for whatever reason, is to have a tendency to disagree with anything you say if they can manage to. When you have lost reputation in the mind of another, they will send blank arguments your way. They will disagree with what you say not because of the merits that your words hold, but because of the source they stem from (you).

It is still important to remember that some of the arguments those who don’t like you voice will be valid, and include points which are propelled by truth. Other arguments however – those which this article aims to shed light on – will be blank, without real truths behind them and will only exist because the person does not like you.

Not Engaging

These arguments are hard to counter, as both yourself as well as the person who doesn’t like you understand their points to be of secondary importance to the malicious intentions behind them. People who do not like you will want to be argumentative and therefore combative.

Blank arguments can never be won, as the points backing them are seldom valid. Should you attempt to argue points which hold no obvious validity, your mere attempts can be construed as providing those arguments validity. When both parties understand the lack of validity behind the points raised by one’s opponent, a likely goal for the birth of an argument is to lead toward confrontation.

A common example of blank arguments is when your behavior was previously okay by someone else’s standards, and now is not. For instance, if you’ve always washed your plate while your roommate was still eating, their emotional response to you doing so today would not make much sense. Why did they sit through your act of washing dishes for the months prior, but decided to voice their displeasure with the noise you make today? Perhaps, they got to know you better, or perhaps they’re more confident in voicing their displeasure. However, without knowing the reasons for their complaint, you should be wary of engaging their semi-valid points.

If others’ concerns hold any sort of validity, agree with their valid points and thoroughly attempt to understand how you can improve. Ignore other blank aspects of people’s arguments, such as the fact that they’re inconsistent with their complaints. Ignore any emotional attacks tagged onto semi-valid arguments that you hear, and ignore any forms of verbal malice aimed at simply making you feel worse. An emotional and malicious challenge is akin to a kamikaze plot, in that your opponent is trying to pull both of you into an emotional or physical altercation.

Recognizing When Blank Arguments Come Your Way

You should recognize blank arguments which – even though have few/no valid points behind them – your opponent insists to keep alive. If you believe your counterpart knows that the validity of their points does not stand up to yours but still keeps pressing, then you should retreat from the argument and accept the loss if you need to.

Continuing to counter your opponent’s blank arguments will lead to roads which you should not want to travel, especially when you find yourself in a professional environment. Redefine the victory of an baseless argument to getting out of it rather than proving your points right in a logical sense. When your opponent is out for blood, there is no winning arguments in the traditional sense. Your only options at that point would be to either exit the argument without escalating the situation or dive into the depths of an altercation.

Blank arguments are relatively easy to recognize:

  1. When getting the whiff of being pulled into a blank argument, look for inconsistencies in people’s behavior today in comparison to what they’ve historically let out. If they suddenly give rise to an issue which they haven’t had problems with prior, then it may be worth exploring what motivated them to voice their displeasure today.
  2. Remember that arguments don’t exist in a silo, thereby keep your focus on what contextual factors can be affecting the intensity and motivations of those who seek to argue. Look for how changes in the environment surrounding both of you could have affected the other’s displeasure with you. For instance, did you recently get a promotion? Have you received a piece of good news? Did your counterpart have a tough morning commute? Try your best to list all the external factors which may be contributing to their heated attempts at arguing with you. The more possible contributing factors to someone’s negative feelings about that you can list, the likelier it is that at least some of those factors are affecting their emotions toward you.
  3. A cycle of complaints which you can do nothing about (there being no way to address their concerns) is often a tell tale sign that someone is simply blowing off steam. If you find yourself wondering and asking what you can do to ease the arguing individual’s concerns and complaints to no avail, then it may be wise to simply let them blow off steam. These instances are easy to get dragged into and coerced into acting in “incriminating” ways. Though their reasoning for starting arguments with you may be weak initially, your incriminating reactions will be things they go on to latch their argument on to in an effort to make it more valid.
  4. An unrealistic belief that they know you well can give rise to negative feelings in others about you. If you see that people have made leaping judgments about your personality, nature, behavior, and history, then reeducating them may not be worth it in the heat of the moment. Assumptions are effective drivers of hatred, thereby if you pinpoint people’s intense feelings to be rooted in assumptions made about you, think twice about vehemently defending against their points.

Remember the archetype of a blank argument and continuously compare against it:

If you’ve lived in a congested city, you may have come across some interesting characters among the downtown populous. You can be walking down the street with a loved one and find yourself bearing witness to bouts of mental illness in random individuals who select you to be their victim.

Say you run into someone you don’t know who calls you names, curses your loved one, and wishes death to everything positive about that day. Would you reciprocate?

The above is the extreme version of a blank argument; the rest fall somewhere between a totally logical, reasonable, calm argument, and what’s above. Most of the blank arguments that come your way will have an ounce of logic to them – they won’t all be random people hating you for no reason.

To limit being seen as a pushover, attack the logical points and ignore any statements which are serving to coerce you into a confrontation. Analyse how much of a person’s issue with you comes from an objectively legitimate place and how much can be explained away. Acknowledge points which ring true, address them the best way you can, and be the antiseptic of emotional confrontation. Should the points all become confrontational, like the random individual yelling obscenities at you, it is advisable to retreat and let them “win” almost every time.

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Disclaimer of Opinion: This article is presented only as opinion. It does not make any scientific, factual, or legal claims. Please critically analyze all claims made and independently decide on its validity.