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How to Stop a Fight With Logic

by Nathaniel Bluedorn

This is a story about how to use logic to stop fights and end quarrels.

As we tune in, Tina and Meg are talking about the homeschool support group meeting they both attend . . .

Tina: Every time I bring the twins to the support group, I get the impression Barb thinks they’re out of control – they’re not as perfect as her little cherub.

Meg: I never got that impression. Didn’t Barb say they’re okay – just a little boisterous?

Tina: Yes, but she said it in such a short, blunt way!

For the next few months, Tina continues to feel badly. She finally brings it up at the support group. All the women say they haven’t noticed Barb upset with Tina’s twins. Tina leaves feeling that no one understands her. Later, Meg tries to help.

Meg: I don’t think you’re being objective . . .

Tina: Of course I’m not objective! I’m passionate about this! People need to see it isn’t fair the way she expects my babies to act like little blocks of ice . . . like her boy does!

Meg: Let me draw this on a chart . . .

Does Barb think Tina’s twins are out of control?

Yes
Tina’s impression
No
All the ladies at the support group haven’t noticed anything.

Opposing Viewpoints Chart

We interrupt our story to explain that this is an opposing viewpoints chart. This chart is a logic tool that helps us compare evidence on both sides of an issue.

“The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him” (Proverbs 18:17 NIV).

If we only understand one side of an issue, we may be surprised when we learn what the other side says. Once we list the evidence in each column for each side, we can compare the columns. When we’re done, we may still believe passionately in our position, but now we understand the reasons why other people disagree.

In fact, if we have trouble listing reasons for why other people disagree with us, this is a symptom that our emotions are making us to ignore some important evidence.

Meg: Can you think of anything more to put in the “No” column?

Tina: Of course not! You put something down – you feel this way.

Meg: I’d like you to try . . . it might help you understand Barb’s perspective. In what column should we put, “Barb says the twins are okay?”

Tina: Of course she says that!

Meg: She did say this . . . should we put it in the “No” column?

Tina: I don’t know . . .

Not Convinced by Logic

We interrupt our story again to explain that people are often not convinced by logic. This is shocking, but true. Logic does not always work. Opposing viewpoint charts can irritate people.

Before logic can work, we must remove barriers. In our story, one way Meg could remove barriers is to communicate she is listening. She might show Tina that she is listening by explaining Tina’s position to her in a sympathetic way. This may open the door for logic to work.

Meg: I understand the way you feel. You feel Barb looks at you as a hypocrite when it comes to child training because your babies are noisier than her boy. But she won’t come out and say it, she just hints. You feel frustrated because the other women do not see what you see.

Tina: I’ve been so depressed about this . . .

Meg: What specifically does Barb do that makes you think she disapproves?

Tina: Body language . . . she turns her shoulder to me and never looks directly at my side of the room . . . she does this every time.

Meg: I remember Barb said bright light makes her migraines worse. Do you often sit near the window?

Tina: Oh . . . now I see what you’re trying to say. I’ve been misreading Barb. All of a sudden, this whole situation looks very silly!

The Problem and the Solution

This story is about how logic resolved a misunderstanding, but only after barriers were removed. Meg was patient with Tina when Tina had trouble seeing the other side of the issue. And once Tina felt Meg had her interests at heart, she opened her mind to the evidence she was ignoring.

Logic is not a silver bullet that will stop every fight. But it is a tool that can help us bring peace, if we know how to use it.

First appeared in Homeschooling Today magazine.

Copyright October 01, 2005, all rights reserved. 15353 views


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