Sorry to go all “meta” in today’s post, but this really has to be said.
Conflict-avoidance is one of the most common strategies you’ll find in social situations, and it’s really not difficult to understand why. The thing is, arguments are actually a very, very good thing. The problem is that most people don’t know how to approach arguments and they end up turning into aggressive affairs involving a whole lot of personal attacks and very little of substance.
There is something that took me a very long time to learn, and something that I forget embarrassingly frequently: the goal of an argument. The entire point of an argument should be understanding someone else’s perspective and getting them to understand yours. The most positive possible result of an argument is one or (preferably) both parties saying, “I never looked at it that way.” Otherwise it’s just an unimaginably huge waste of time for everyone involved.
There are a lot of nitpicky details of etiquette to make things “go right,” but if both parties are considering an argument from this perspective, it’s actually pretty amazing how little effort it takes to make them productive.