Posts Tagged ‘conversation’

Winning Argument

4 March 2011

Dear J-

There are people in this world that you can argue with until you’re blue in the face and you’ll never convince them to your point of view. Is that a failure of your ability to argue or their stubborn intractability? Or does it go even deeper: are you so convinced of your own correctness that you refuse to give up on your stance? I have a certain grudging admiration for these folks and there’s times I’ve been among their confident members, more concerned with winning an argument than getting things done. There are rules for these things — just as you wouldn’t hit below the belt or go before the gloves are dropped, the art of argument is better served by some baselines.

If it’s worth arguing over, after all, it’s worth arguing well. Don’t drag the past into the conversation. There are no points given for saying “you always ____” and “you never ____.” What you’re talking about is the here and now, so you have to have a short memory and a long capacity for forgiveness. Stop repeating your arguments. If you want to be convincing as a lirstening adult give the other person(s) the benefit of the doubt and assume they heard your points already. Seek first to understand — step back and try to understand where they’re coming from first. Understand the stakes. Is this even worth taking a hard-line stance?

Are you willing to be wrong? It’s the scariest thing sometimes, saying I’m sorry and knowing you mean it, hoping it’ll be heard and accepted. If you’re not willing to be wrong then you’ll never enter any argument with the hope of getting anything constructive out of it. There are a million things that may annoy you but remember that reaction is completely different from action. Who’s calling the shots for what I do, you or me? If I’m reacting then it’s not me making the choices. The million mile gulf between our viewpoints is often a nuance. Given the right perspective and lever you’re both able to hop right over without a second glance backwards. Winning, right, that’s winning.



Baby Compare

8 March 2010

Dear J-

The rain swept in a few times today; I had another follow-up appointment with the doctor, so I took the remainder of the day off. It’s been three weeks since the surgery and things are more or less back to normal (with any luck, the teeming legions of medical professionals lined up to touch my junk has come to a close). I’m going to try riding the bike again tomorrow, knowing that it’s been too long, weather permitting. We went to the Zoo again today as another sign of falling back into the same old routine; my arms hardly remembered the burden of camera and figgy together, but the familiar rhythms keep us moving forward.

At the Zoo the meerkat pups had emerged from the burrow and were taking their tenative steps under wary eyes. There are times that we happen to see other kids out with their parents; they are quiescent little boys and girls that obediently (perhaps only in comparison) sit up and take direction. On the other hand, figgy has her own mind on things, giving us directions and admonishing us:

Mike: To the restaurant Noodles!

figgy: Don’t say that, Daddy.

Mike: Noodles!

figgy: Don’t call me Mike. Call me figgy, okay?

I would not trade my crazy daughter who apparently cannot walk when there are willing parent arms around for an army of straight-arrow kids who smile and nod at every command and wish. She brings a kind of creative anarchy into our lives, one that I suspect every two-and-three-quarter year old brings to their parents’ lives and ours are richer for it. We have as many screaming fits as uncontrollable laughter but each peal is rich reward for every point of blood pressure. It’s more than I could have dreamed.


Dad Meanie

24 August 2009

figgy:  I want … to read Frances [hands me Bread and Jam for Frances]

Me:  Okay, let’s start with this …

figgy: … read Spider [handing over Anansi the Spider]

Me:  Anansi.  He is “spider” to the Ashanti people —

f: … read Kim [One Kitten for Kim, book landing on my lap]

M:  Okay, okay, but let’s start with this one and let’s finish —

f: … Corduroy!

M:  Look, that’s already too many books.  I’m going to stop reading unless you stop bringing me books.

f: …

M:  Anansi had six sons —

f:  MEAN!

Pesto Dilemma

8 June 2009

theVet:  So, about the pesto — we have this left-over, but it expired a month ago.

Mike:  Well, we might as well — I mean, it’s not like the new pesto will go bad any faster for being open — but then again, we might as well use up the old — although it might be really suspect now, I mean it has been a month —

theVet: …

Mike:  — I guess I’m too lazy to open up the new one.  Okay.

V:  You’re arguing with yourself, you know.

M:  Well, yeah, but —

V:  … and you lost.  Again.

M:  (sadly) I know.

Dad Lunch

16 February 2009

theVet:  So what did you give figgy for lunch today?

Mike:  Well, she sorta had some chicken nuggets …

theVet:  Sorta?

Mike:  See, she was already full from the fig bars I’d given her for a snack …

V:  Newtons.

M:  … because I was getting hungry, so I started to snack and she noticed so I just …

V:  … gave her cookies?  For lunch?

:  …

V:  …

:  When you put it that way …

V:  Cookies.

M:  Well, yes.  But she liked them, and they’re pretty healthy — lots of fiber and fruit …

V:  Cookies!  With sugar!  In my baby!

M:  [philosophically] With dad, you takes your chances.

Involuntary Trifecta

4 July 2008

Mike:  (scrubs)

theVet:  (scrubs, wipes)

Mike:  (wet vacs)

theVet:  (more wiping)

M:  You realize what this means?

V:  Don’t say it.

M:  We’ve hit a trifecta here — sure, not the kind that pays off but —

V:  — if only it didn’t involve three distinct excretions from three different orifices and three species.  IN THE HOUSE.

Better Left Unsaid

12 June 2008

(discussing the relative merits of hybrid vehicles and fuel economy)

Vanpooligans:  But Mike gets infinite miles to the gallon!

Mike:  Well … that’s not counting my “personal” emissions.

Vanpooligans: Isn’t this a little too much detail?

Mike:  Hey, at least I save it for the bike, not the van!

Vanpooligans: …

Mike:  Every little tailwind helps?  [nervous laughter]

Well, does it? Huh?

11 November 2006

Dear J-

Semi-retouched conversation from this morning:

theVet: Do I look pregnant? I mean, does this top make me look pregnant?

Mike: No, you just look like you’re trying to be pregnant.

theVet: ???

Mike: You know, like those people who think they’re pregnant — psychosomatic — and start to display signs without actually being pregnant. I think it’s the empire waist.

V: Idiot.

I’m glad she’s pregnant, honest. I just wish that the crazy didn’t come along with it (crazy on both sides, to be honest).