Name-calling weakens any argument

I am an imperfect person with many faults. As an independent voter who has been a member of both parties, each party has good and bad ideas. Yet, what I find problematic are people (especially leaders) who name-call and demean others who disagree with them.

Name-calling weakens any argument and is used as a short-cut by someone whose position needs more scrutiny. Demeaning others throws water on civil discourse.

If you hear or read name-calling, dig further. Question more. Why do you say that? If you see or read where someone demeans another, dig further. Again, ask why do you use that tone or language? It diminishes your argument.

Listen more. Listen to hear, not just retort. People want to be heard. An old boss would say “we have two ears and one mouth – use them in that proportion.” After you listen, then you can question someone. “Help me understand your point,” you might say. Or, “I understand what you are saying, but I do not fully agree with your point.”

Give them the same courtesy you would want in return. Returning the name-calling gets you nowhere. Returning demeaning behavior does likewise. I am reminded of the old comment, if you want your children to hear you, whisper.

5 thoughts on “Name-calling weakens any argument

  1. Oh dear … and here I just finished a post where I called Wilbur Ross a ‘little weasel’! Sigh. You are, of course, right in all you say, and as always you are more soft-spoken than I. The name-calling by politicians is unconscionable and is, I think, an indicator that they are not capable of civil discourse, perhaps don’t know how to express themselves in any other way. The campaign mud-slinging is a turn off and throws a smoke screen over true ideologies or platforms. It’s easier to throw dirt than to put forth a well-considered set of goals. It reminds me of kids on a playground. I’m still calling Ross a weasel, though. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Jill, it is easy to name-call, especially when they give you reason. What Ross said shows a lack of empathy. We must do our darnedest to focus on the actions. Sometimes, that is hard to do. Saying the President is being untruthful is akin to calling him a liar. But, I still feel it is better to say he is being untruthful than to call him out directly.

      I do know I will violate my own caution given how easy it is to do. Yet. I must strive to do better. Keith

      • You are right that we should focus on actions, but don’t their actions rather point to the sort of person they are? Ross, for example … for anybody to be so callous, to me defines the emotional makeup of that person. Sigh. I do try, but sometimes I think I will burst if I cannot vent a little bit. Mea culpa … ๐Ÿ˜ž

      • Jill, therein lies the challenge. When the average person masks the truth, we should avoid calling them a liar and focus on the lie. Yet, when someone who lies more than they do not, it is far more justifiable to call them one, but we should be at our diplomatic best. In Ross’ case, he has made insensitive remarks before, so it is easier to fall into that trap.

        My concerns are when folks use liberal, conservative, Nazi, Apartheid, slavety, etc. as code words or demean others it masks a poorly thought of argument. Ben Carson said “Obamacare was like slavery.” Really? Keith

  2. Note to Readers: I had another boss who would diffuse a situation where someone was inviting a name-calling comment. He would say, “Of all the people in the world, he (she) certainly is one of them.” That usually would get laughter and a change of subject.

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