Episode Summary

In this episode we talk about the problems with arguing with facts when someone is emotionally invested in a contrary position. We also discuss what you should do in such an argument.

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Show Transcript

All right, hello, everybody, and welcome to another episode of the Emotional Embuffination podcast. I am your host, David Enevoldsen. And here on Emotional Embuffination, we are training to become emotionally buff enough to overcome any conflict in life. And at the same time, we are trying to figure out ways to optimize and discover new levels of success and happiness. This podcast is just one of a number of resources I have available. If you want to learn more about that, check out the Emotional Embuffination website, which is embuffination.com. All right, on today’s show, we’re going to talk about something that it’s not really here or anybody else talking about this. I’m sure somebody somewhere has got to have talked about this, but I don’t hear it as a theme very often. And to me, it feels like one of the most important potentially themes with respect to dealing with conflict and I’m speaking about this from having seen it. I’ve studied some of the psychology on it. I’ve interacted with these particular issues. I’ve seen it work and fail depending on how you’re applying it, and that is fighting with facts. This is something that a lot of people think that you should do. And for anybody that’s familiar with any of the stuff that I’ve done, I preach this often this idea that you should not fight with facts. And I know that sounds counterintuitive and it seems counterintuitive to what I hear most people come to me as clients and try to explain.


And typically the dynamic is as an attorney, I especially saw this in the family law arena where somebody’s going through a divorce and the other side is opposing them and they say, I need you to go to the other side and tell them facts A, B, C, and D, and explain to them why they’re totally wrong. And I need you to convince them that they’re wrong and they need to just agree with me. I saw that all the time in family law. It almost never worked there. I’m now doing primarily criminal law and I sometimes see it work there, sometimes not. But I’ll explain a little bit why I think there’s a difference between those two. When I did family law, I never saw it work. If I’d go to the other side and explain to them why they were wrong, the argument got even bigger and the other side would get very defensive and explain why I was wrong and why all those points were totally wrong and never saw that work. I never saw anybody go who was already convinced, you know, and there was some real entrenched emotional conflict going on, I never saw anybody go, “Oh, yeah, you’re right.” Well, since I wrote the Emotional Embuffination book, which I put together pre-COVID, I actually launched it right as COVID was, published it right when COVID was going on. But I wrote it all pre COVID. And I feel like COVID became a really great example of this in that if you think back to and I’ve said this in a number of other shows and other materials I’ve had, but if you think back to 2020, 2021, what was going on during that time, we essentially saw two major schools of thought emerge, right? There was the conservative end, the liberal end and various variations of those. But essentially it was something along the lines of COVID is not that bad or it doesn’t exist versus it’s going to kill us all and it’s terrible and it’s killing lots of people. Those were kind of two extremes. There was issues about the vaccines. Either the vaccines are our salvation or the vaccines are terrible things. The extreme end, we had everything from they’ve got tracking devices in the vaccines to on a different less extreme end we had things about that they could create all sorts of health problems. We had issues about the masks where some people didn’t want to wear the mask, some people did. So we had all these issues where people were very much polarizing and once they had decided what was going on, you would see everyone argue like crazy. And I saw friendships ruined over this. I saw relationships ruined over this. There was a lot of contention. I I’ve never seen this country, the US, so divided as it was during this this time frame over all these political issues. Relevant to this particular show and this issue of arguing with facts is that that’s all anybody was doing is arguing with facts.


They would come out and say, Well, let me explain to you why your points are all wrong. And then the other side would say, Well, nuh uh, let me explain to you why those points are wrong and why my points are right. And as that went on, nobody was like, “Oh, man, you’re right. I’ve been totally wrong this whole time. Let me flip flop my position.” Now, there were people that changed positions. I saw that. But usually those people that did were not already firmly entrenched emotionally in whatever it is they were believing. So, this this idea of arguing the facts, I didn’t see it work in family law. I didn’t see it work during COVID at all. And in fact, what I saw was this phenomena that I’ve kind of informally named “The hardening.” And the hardening is this process I notice, which essentially I think is sort of a positive feedback loop wherein you pick a topic. You say, here’s my position on that topic. You kind of weigh the evidence, figure out where you stand on it, and then once you’ve decided you give yourself more information and you keep doing that over and over and over again, people do this with politics all the time, or they’ll pick a party or a position, a political party position, something like that. And they’ll keep feeding themselves information through the news or talking to people or whatever it is.


And it keeps reaffirming more and more and more the position that they’re taking. And it gets to a point where they can’t hear anything from the other side. They will just immediately start spewing their ideas without ever hearing what’s on the other side, and they will automatically just start to be locked out against anything contrary to their own positions. So, I call this the hardening, but let’s let’s get into the science of it just a little bit. There’s a couple of different elements here. One, I think is really nicely illustrated in this study. It comes out of the Massachusetts Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and it was conducted in 2004 long before all the COVID stuff. But the idea of political contention is nothing new. And this was looking at Democrats and Republicans in the United States during the 2004 period. Well, in order to be in the study, they were first filtering for people that had strong party affiliations. So, they were already really tied to whatever their position was, whichever political party they were siding with. Then they took these people that already had really strong emotions about one political position, and they presented them with information about their candidate that contradicted itself. In other words, and this is not hard because any politician out there, number one, especially when you’re talking presidential level, the volume of stuff that they’re putting out there, inevitably you’re going to find some little quotes somewhere that you’re going to contradict yourself with.


And when we get into stuff that’s highly political, I mean, just quite frankly, in the political realm, it’s easy to find statements that seem to at least superficially contradict each other. So, these researchers found some statements from both sides of the fence that seem to contradict. And then they would play these little clips and show these quotes or I don’t remember how it was presented. But they would show these quotes and these things that seem to be contradictory to their party. While they were doing this, they had all these subjects hooked up to an fMRI machine so they could kind of measure what was going on in their brains. And we know from not this particular study but from past studies, that cold cognitions, those are the kind of brain activity where you have zero emotional investment whatsoever, you’re just kind of assimilating the information, you would normally see with an fMRI machine activation in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. So, we know what brain region is being activated when you just have these cold cognitions. Well, when these people who already had an emotional investment in a position were being presented with information that contradicted, in essence, their position. That’s not the brain region that was being activated. These people were showing activation in the orbital prefrontal cortex, the anterior cingulate cortex, insula and the posterior cingulate and contiguous precuneous and parietal cortex.


I’m not a neurophysiologist, but the key thing I think, to take away here is that these people were using entirely different brain regions to analyze the information that was coming into them. If you’ve already decided, if you already have emotional investment in a position, you’re not using the same part of your brain to comprehend facts that are being thrown at you. So, if you were talking about COVID vaccines or COVID masks or political positions that arose during COVID, or if you’re talking political candidacy, ignoring COVID, or if you’re talking your divorce and why the other person has been unreasonable, any time you’re throwing out facts, you are processing the information that’s being presented with you with a totally different part of your brain than the brain region that analyzes things just coldly and very logically.


But it gets worse than this. That’s just one step of this whole analysis. There was a study out of Cornell Law Review where they did this whole look at people’s perceptions about global warming. And in this study, they broke people into essentially two camps. One was a camp that believed very much in global warming, and the other camp did not believe in global warming. Then they measured how intensely they believed those respective positions. So and they would just kind of create a scale for that. Then they presented everybody with some sort of information that purported to say that scientists thought things were worse than how they originally thought or better than how they originally thought it was.


Now, if they were saying things were more in a direction that was inconsistent with your preexisting belief, then you tended not to change your position. So, for example, let’s say I believed in global warming and the information I was being presented with said scientists thought that the temperatures are dropping. So everything seems much better than we thought. That would not change my position. Or the flip. If I did not believe in global warming and I was being told that scientists now thought temperatures were rising, that would not change my position. However, if they were presented with information that seemed consistent with what I believe. So, for example, if I did not believe in global warming and I was presented with information that temperatures were dropping or the flip, then my position or how strongly I felt about my position would intensify. In other words, these contrary positions, when I’m being presented with facts about a position that’s in contravention to the one I have, I tend to ignore it. On the other hand, if I hear information that supports the position I have, I tend to intensify my position. So, what does that tell us? So now we know that people are using entirely different brain regions to analyze the information, and we know that they’re, in effect, ignoring contradictory information. On top of that, if they hear any sort of information that supports their position, their position intensifies.


This is all adding up to it’s a bad idea to sit there and throw facts at somebody that’s already emotionally invested in what’s going on. But it gets even worse than that. There is and I won’t go into the research on this, but there is a fair amount of research that shows that we can confabulate it to kind of conform to our expected expectations. And confabulate means essentially to alter your memories, often unknowingly and without any sort of malicious intent. But we sort of restructure in our heads how things went. You know, as an attorney, I heard this all the time, where people would kind of come in and explain to me, well, I still hear this all the time. People would come in and explain to me how XYZ happened. And then I find like video evidence or something showing what happened. And their impression of what happened is totally different from what actually happened. In fact, just today I went to court and I before I went, I watched the on body camera video footage from this police officer. And when I got to court today, I talked to the client who was representing to me something totally different from what I was seeing on this video. And I don’t think this person was lying to me. I think that this defendant honestly believed what what they were telling me. But this is just part of the human feedback loop.


We start to convince ourselves that something happened or that something was unjust, or that there was a certain way in which something should have happened. And then we keep replaying it in our minds and we get into these positive feedback loops where we keep entrenching further and further and further into these positions. And this study that I just described really tells you that this is how we’re doing it. So we start hunting for information that supports our position, and every time we find that information, we become a little more convinced of our position. But if something contradicts it, we ignore it. Now, this creates a serious danger in my mind to us if we start to think, this tells us a couple of things. One is it’s utterly futile to sit there and argue with someone in a direct way using facts if this person has already decided where they fall. The second thing is we need to be very careful with ourselves. And I feel like I’ve both experienced this and seen it. And again, think back to what happened during COVID. When you get into that, that positive feedback loop, if I spend all my time, for example, watching the news and I start watching like some spokesperson or some avatar that represents my political position, I start to confirm it. I start to ignore everything else, any potential validity from the other side, and I move into this place that is what I represented before, the hardening. If I’m moving into this hardening it becomes problematic because now I’m never going to hear contrary facts, which means that I get into this loop where I cannot see anything else. It’s kind of interesting now that everybody’s sort of fallen where they’re going to with respect to the COVID stuff. And people are still arguing about it and they’re only seeing kind of their respective positions without any weight given to subsequent information that’s come out for either side. And I’m not trying to really not trying to make this a political thing. I’m just looking at the psychology of what’s going on, because I think this applies to both sides of it when we’re talking about specific facts in any position. And this is what makes politics so insidious in my mind. There are typically, if you can look at it with an objective mind, which is very hard, if you’ve been living in the politics, there’s usually something that you can cull out. And this is the reason people graft onto it in the first place is because if you take either extreme, there’s some kind of truth, there’s some nugget of something in there, and they are going to be cases that exemplify and support either extreme. And so, if you can find those little nuggets that support either extreme, you can trumpet those and you can get into this positive feedback loop where people become hardened and convinced of their things, won’t listen to anything else that’s going on.


You see the same thing in family law. You see the same thing in criminal law because this is all human behavior. We need to be careful not to drift into that ourselves because we start to harden up and we don’t maintain an open mind when we become that locked into a position. That raises another important question to me, which is if you find that you’re getting caught up in a loop with someone, let’s say that I’m trying my best to kind of maintain my own cognitive lucidity, for want of a better description. Maybe that’s too highbrow of a description. How about my own unbiased ness. So, I’m not, I’m trying not to get into these weird positive feedback loops. I’m trying not to harden myself. I’m trying to take an objective mind with things. I’m not watching the news. I’m not engaging in arguments unnecessarily. But let’s say I’m having a discussion with somebody and they’re emotionally invested in something, and I don’t believe that that position makes any sense. How do you win? This is one of the quintessential questions when it comes to debating and all this other stuff is like, how do you prevail when somebody is opposing you? This is very much what lawyering is about, right? You go in and you present a bunch of facts to a judge or a jury or a political body, legislative assembly, whatever it is.


I’m presenting these factual arguments and trying to explain how I should win and why my side is right. And sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t. But I think before you get anywhere with some of this, the factual arguments, you have to say, why are we arguing in the first place? Like, what is the thing that we are arguing about and does that matter? Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t. But more importantly, if it does matter, make sure that you’re talking about the same thing, because very often what’s on the surface is not what you are truly arguing about. What I mean by that is that frequently, extremely frequently when we get very emotional about something, the thing that we are yelling about or upset about is not what we’re really upset about. A simple example that I think is kind of a common point of strife is I think of creationism versus evolution. The, you tend to see these two polarized positions. Either God created the universe and evolution is nonsense or the sort of Christian/theistic model about how the world came to be is silly because we have science over here telling us that evolution is how life came into existence and it’s brought us to where we are today. Those tend to be the two opposite extremes, right? And I’ve seen a lot of people argue about this. The problem is they’re not really arguing about that because oftentimes they’ve convinced themselves before they’ve heard anything about it.


I have this vivid memory of being in I think it was a psych class. It’s been a little bit now, but I was in the first half of my undergraduate degree and I was taking a psychology class and we started talking about evolution. And I remember there was this guy that left the class like we had just started talking about evolution. Like what it is. Not even anything really substantive about it. It was just like, here’s what the theory actually is. And this guy, I remember when we were on our way out, he was talking to his friend and he said, “Come on, man, we’re going to go prove that evolution is wrong.” And I remember thinking, “What? So, you don’t know anything about evolution yet, and yet you’ve already decided and are going to go prove it’s wrong.” Which tells me that really the debate about evolution versus creationism was not what you were really interested in. This was not about that argument. This was about something else. Because you didn’t know anything about that argument. And yet that is the surface thing that you’re arguing about. What I think that was really about and what it usually is in that particular context is somebody’s perception of faith in either science or their religion or their belief in God, and whether or not whatever the outcome of this is represents a threat to whatever that position is.


So if I am a hard core Christian, let’s say, and I’m sitting here talking about creationism, I want to believe that creationism is true, because if it’s not in my subconscious that represents a threat to what I already believe to be true. So I have to assume that it’s not. And the surface argument of that becomes evolution versus creationism or the flip. If I believe that Christianity is wrong and science is right and evolution is a representation of what science is, then I’ve got to prove that evolution is right and creationism is wrong. Those surface arguments are not really what we’re talking about. In fact, I don’t know why anyone outside of people in a scientific community, unless we’re talking about biology specifically, why anyone would even care whether or not evolution is right or creationism is wrong. I mean, how many people really use that on a day to day basis? Like, seriously, if you’re not a biologist or somebody working in the sciences, when is the last time you had any real relevance to applying the theory of evolution to your day-to-day life? I, I can’t remember other than just in some academic discussions about it, the last time, I, I don’t know if I’ve ever needed it in anything that I was doing. So if you don’t need that and it has zero relevance whatsoever and people are coming to conclusions about it beforehand, they’re really arguing about something else.


Now I see this all the time in arguments. People will come up with factual things that oftentimes don’t even make sense because it’s this sort of surface debate about something underneath. And we engage in cognitive dissonance a lot, which I think is now a popularized term, and most people know what that is, to sort of cover up our true intentions. And some of our true intentions don’t sound good when we say them out loud, which is all the more reason to subconsciously shield them. But I would see this as an example of this. I would see this in the family law arena all the time. I might be fighting for time with my kids. You know, let’s say I’m a dad and I’m fighting vehemently to spend more time with my kids and my baby mama/ex is sitting there saying, well, he’s never spent any time with the kids whatsoever. Now all of a sudden he wants to be with the kids. We could be sitting here, surface level, arguing about time with the kids. In reality, that may or may not be what I’m actually arguing about. It might actually be about me paying child support or me relinquishing control to my ex, or vice versa, her receiving child support or her relinquishing control to me. Oftentimes the things that we’re really debating is all this surface stuff, not what we’re talking about in the actual argument. Now circle back to what we’ve been talking about a few minutes ago with the arguing with facts.


If the things that I’m talking about on the surface are not actually the things that I’m talking about, I’ve already convinced myself of a position and arguing with facts doesn’t do anything positive, I’m at a loss from the get-go. If I just start arguing directly with facts like I’ve already lost the argument because this person is not only going to not buy into what I’m trying to push on them, but worse, they’re going to become more entrenched in their position to the point that I won’t be able to talk to them at all. So the very first step in my mind before you do anything else, if you were in an argument with somebody, is to step back and say, okay, what are we actually arguing about? I had this, I had a friend many, many years ago. I was dating someone and I remember I would get very upset at what this this person I was dating was saying to me and I would respond and say, well, that thing doesn’t make sense and let me explain why. And the situation would just immediately escalate out of control. And it turned into this crazy argument. I would feel frustrated and she would feel frustrated. And then we would kind of I would go off and talk to my friend. Well, my friend I explained one of the arguments that I was going through, and my friend went, “David, come on, you’re being stupid. That thing that you think you’re arguing about is not what you’re arguing about. You’re arguing about this other thing over here.” I remember stopping and going, “Oh, you’re right. That’s not what we were arguing about.” And so, the next time I had an argument that was starting with this, this person, I remember thinking that I went, hold up. What are we actually arguing about? Then I realize we were arguing about something totally different. And the second I realized that, I started talking about that other thing that we were arguing about. And I don’t want to give any examples here, say names or anything, because I don’t want to say who that is, but, it became to the point where I would say I was speaking this girl’s name. I was almost I felt like I was speaking another language about this girl. But I don’t think what she was doing and what I was doing, frankly, was anything different than what anyone else does. You get into an argument about facts on the surface, it’s really not about what you’re arguing about. If there’s emotion tied into it, there’s usually something else. And so unless the surface level stuff really, really matters and half the time it really, really doesn’t. But unless that that decision in and of itself matters, then you want to step back and say, okay, what are we actually debating about and start to address that thing. For example, with the creationism evolution thing, do we even need to have that argument? And if we do, like maybe let’s talk about the thing that we’re actually talking about, your faith or science versus faith.


This does not mean you can brainwash everybody, right? I mean, this doesn’t mean that you can just automatically convince someone that you’re right by kind of shifting gears, but you can at least be talking about the same things. Because most of the time people aren’t. The, the common arguments between people are one, person A screams, some facts. Person B waits for person A to finish or cuts them off and throws facts back. No one’s listening to what’s going on and you have to start by listening or you will not get anywhere in this argument and you are just wasting your time and making yourself upset. Just like I was doing in that, that previous person I was dating. Listen. That is step one. Once you understand what somebody is talking about, then you need to speak to those drives and you have to do it without just throwing facts out. Speak on an emotional level. There’s another really fascinating study. This is one of the most fascinating studies I’ve ever read. It came out of UCLA and it was looking at people primarily who are afraid of vaccines. And keep in mind, this was pre-COVID. So, this was kind of the this was not the the COVID vaccine debate.


This was sort of the back when we were arguing about whether vaccines caused autism and that sort of thing, right? So, they’re looking at these people who are afraid of vaccines, and they broke them into a couple of groups. And one of the groups, they would say, okay, we understand. Let’s measure where your position is and how afraid of vaccines you are. And then they would present them a list of information that explained, it was from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, explained how vaccines were super safe. It showed statistics related that said they’re effective. It stops all these diseases. Here’s what vaccines do. Notice how that’s an argument with facts. They’re saying, hey, you’ve taken an opposite position. Let me give you some facts from the CDC that explains why you’re wrong. Not surprisingly, that group did not change their positions at all. You know, at least in the direction of persuasion. The second group, they took them and they showed them pictures of sick and suffering children and explained to them all the terrible things that can happen from diseases. Afterwards, they once again tested attitudes towards vaccines. And notably, this particular group showed a significant change in their attitudes towards vaccines. It’s fascinating because they’re not talking about the facts at all. When you show pictures of sick children, you’re not saying, hey, vaccines are effective. You’re just saying, look, here’s terrible stuff that can happen if your kids get sick.


Totally different thing. And yet that’s what was persuasive. Having a visual about the thing they were actually concerned about because these people that were concerned about vaccines and concerned about links to autism they weren’t really worried about the vaccines themselves. They were worried about their children’s safety. That was what was truly important to them, or at least the majority of them. And so, when you show these people who are actually concerned about children’s safety, pictures of children dying and suffering, that’s going to have a profound impact, especially when you create a visual around it. And that’s what the study showed. Think about what you’re truly arguing about, and don’t just spit facts back out because that just does not work. And this study kind of further shows it. You see the same thing in advertising, too. I mean, think about all the commercials you’ve ever seen. I mean, typically what happens? You have like a gum commercial or something and what’s happening? You don’t have just some lawyer sitting there going, “Here are all the additives in gum, and here’s the efficacy of breath freshening,” like nobody wants to see that nobody would buy that gum, right? You always see these crazy things where there’s like a hot guy and a hot girl at some club and they’re like chewing gum. And then the second they start chewing somebody from the opposite or same sex or whatever starts running over and they’re like, “Oh my God, you’re so hot.”


And there’s like, crazy music. And that’s what people want, which again, has nothing to do with gum, really. It’s just this weird image that’s representative of what people want. The advertisers know this like they’re not tying to anything related to facts specifically, they’re tying into the underlying drives that people have.


So you may still run into walls because you could, you could be going through all of this and then find you’re not getting anywhere. Like maybe let’s say that you do indeed stop yourself. You start trying to speak their language. You’re still not convincing them that your pathway is the right one. Then you run into a wall. You’re not going to get somewhere with everyone. And this is the nature of the world. We all have autonomy. We all have free choices. But keep in mind that you’re not always just arguing with the other person. And to highlight this, in case this wasn’t clear, when I’m saying don’t argue with facts. I’m primarily talking about people that already have an emotional investment. This is not the same thing as somebody who’s just cold, hasn’t seen this evidence before. You know, again, think about the COVID people who never heard anything about COVID before. They’re going to look at it with a much more open mind than somebody who’s already decided whichever side of the political spectrum they’re on. The same thing is true of most issues. Now, people may graft on to particular things that they’re going to associate with the underlying issues, but if they don’t have an emotional investment in this thing, you might be able to argue facts with them.


When I say don’t argue with facts, I’m saying don’t argue with facts when the person is emotionally tied to the answer. Whatever this issue is, the only other scenario where you might argue facts and this is with someone who is emotionally invested, is when you’re not actually arguing with them, but you’re putting out those facts for the benefit of a third party. Let me give you an example of this. And this is something that happens with lawyers all the time. So one of the things that happens is throughout the course of a case and you especially see this in civil cases, I used to do this in family law all the time. I think this is regular practice everywhere. You’ll send a letter throughout the case, you’ll send different letters and say, Hey, my client’s being super reasonable. Here’s all the reasons why my client is reasonable. Fact arguments, right? In an effort to settle this and not run up fees and to continue to be reasonable, here’s a proposed settlement. Let’s do this and here’s why I think this is reasonable. Now, the other side is going to get that. They’re going to be like whatever this person is being totally unreasonable, right? But you’re not actually arguing with them because the reason for these letters is if this case ends up going to trial, what will inevitably happen is these letters are going to pop up as exhibits later on.


They’re going to be presented to a judge, and then the judge is going to look at it when they’re analyzing attorney’s fees, because typically at the end of any given case in the civil universe, most jurisdictions have some sort of mechanism that will allow you to award attorney’s fees if somebody has been unreasonable or was not settling when they should have been. And the rules are a little bit different from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. But like, for example, let’s say I’m suing you and I say you owe me 50,000 and you say whatever, I’ll give you $5000 and I go to trial and I win and I get 50,000, right? But I sent you a letter that said, You know what? I’m entitled to $50,000, but I’ll settle for 40. Now all of a sudden, I look super reasonable and the judge can look at this and say, Well, this never should have gone to trial. Hey, other side that lost, you should have settled way sooner. And because you were being unreasonable and because you required this other person to incur all these attorney’s fees, now you’re going to pay his attorney’s fees. If that’s the case, these exhibits of these letters that I sent or that were sent, whoever sent them are going to pop up.


So, when they were arguing all these facts about why somebody was being reasonable, they were not for the benefit of the other party and actually trying to persuade them they were for the benefit of a third party: The Judge. And you’re trying to convince the judge of why you’re reasonable. And presumably the judge is not going to have a vested emotional interest because, again, we don’t care about presenting facts to people that are not emotionally invested. We care about presenting facts to people that are emotionally invested. So think this through. Any time you are arguing facts with somebody or any time you start getting into a heated argument, stop yourself for a second and say, am I arguing with facts? And if I am arguing about facts, what is it that I’m really, really arguing about? Do I need to have this argument? If you don’t need to have this argument, you need to stop because you’re just wasting your time. You’re not going to convince this other person and you’re just going to make yourself upset for no reason, because you don’t have to have the argument. If you do have to have the argument figure out what’s really going on. Tear down and decide, okay, what is this person actually upset about? What am I actually upset about? Then start to speak to those particular drives. If somebody is not emotionally invested, feel free to talk facts all day long. If they are emotionally invested but you have a tactical reason for doing it, like you’re presenting facts to a third party, somebody sitting here recording things and you want to document how reasonable you’re being or you’re sending out letters or anything like that, go ahead and speak facts, but don’t get emotionally invested in that particular part of the debate because recognize you’re just going to get back not only more contention from the other side, but also you’re going to get them more firmly entrenched in their position. You are only doing it in that situation if they’re already emotionally invested for the purpose of documenting this or presenting it to a third party, especially if they’re watching right there. That’s it. So don’t argue with facts. I just feel like this was such an important topic and I come back to it so often that I really needed to go through some basics of it. Like I said, this is in essence, chapter ten of the Emotional Embuffination book. I’ve got some extra stuff in here and there’s actually more in the Chapter too than what I’ve talked about here. But I didn’t really, because this book was written pre-COVID, I didn’t really have anything about COVID, even though I think COVID was kind of an amazing example of just the psychology of how everybody was dealing with conflict and how we get into these hardening loops where you essentially harden your your heart to use kind of a biblical reference, you’re hardening your psychological positions into whatever it is that you are already believing and it gets to where you just can’t even talk.


Another example of this is I remember talking to some people who had read a blog that I wrote and the blog I thought was kind of neutral. And they got immediately upset with me about how it was so supportive of a political position. And I remember thinking, “Wait, what? If I align with either political position on the particular issue that you’re complaining about, it would be the one that’s with you.” And so these people were just hearing anything, anywhere that could possibly be in opposition and they were exploding. Even though I was kind of close to in alignment with the underlying conclusion that they had. That was a hardening. That was just somebody who was not listening to anyone. This was just somebody that had been doing nothing but arguing. So be very cautious with you. Be very cautious to what you’re filling your head with and be careful about how much time you’re spending, especially with things like the news. Because the news can be very destructive. It can be very hardening. It can make you shut off any rational thought and just get into this positive feedback, feedback loop. Where all you’re going to do is argue facts and you’re not going to hear anything. Listen. That’s the theme here. Don’t argue with facts. Listen, and then try to resolve the problem.


All right, let’s wrap it there. I’m gonna call that the end of today’s show. I hope you found this useful. Like I said, I feel like this is just an unbelievably important topic. I’ve nullified so many arguments that I’ve gotten into using this strategy. You know, I’ve stopped them the second I realized I’m getting into them. It’s really powerful to recognize that you’re not just reacting to what somebody’s saying, but kind of dive a hair deeper and figure out what’s really going on. But I hope that you find this useful. I hope that you can do something here to make yourself less miserable, more happy, reduce conflict in your life. This is Emotional Embuffination. And remember, in order to become more emotionally embuffed, keep working on it every single day. This is something we want to keep at. You don’t go to the gym one time and say I’m done forever. I never got to work out again. You do it every day or regularly, multiple times a week at least. I want you to go from being emotionally weak or whatever emotional level you’re at, and even if you’re not emotionally weak, I want you to go to a place that may have started from saying things like, “The struggle is real,” to going, “Struggle? What struggle?” That is Emotional Embuffination. Thank you all for listening. I hope you enjoyed this. Have a great week and I will see you on the next show.