Here are some suggestions from my soon to be published (released May 30, 2011) ebook:
“’I Can’t Believe You Think That!’ Relationship Struggles around Peak Oil, Climate Change and Economic Hard Times”
Anyone can simply act badly, by pouting, sulking, or stomping out of the room when they begin to lose an argument, but here are some additional ideas to vary the strategy:
1. Be completely disinterested in your partner’s perspective.
You can indicate this disinterest in any number of ways:
- look away,
- sigh heavily,
- tap your foot or hands impatiently, as if waiting for them to finish,
- mutter under your breath,
- roll your eyes,
- look bored when they are talking,
- start changing the TV channels,
- ignore direct questions. (This one is particularly good for upsetting women)
2. Disregard everything you know about them in favor of taking a stereotyped or derogatory perspective about what they must value, how they see things, or what they want.
- “I thought you valued good sense, our family’s welfare and basic hygiene but obviously you don’t.”
- “I guess you think frugality is just another stupid idea…”
3. Alternatively, use what you know about their past failures or mistakes to negate or undermine the value of their perspective.
- “Oh, is this another one of your conspiracy theories? Another Y2K?”
- “You are a master of bad judgment, you know that? You pushed me to buy this house, and now we’re underwater!”
- “If you are such a big believer in the status quo, how come you got fired?”
4. Show a huge amount of contempt.
There are also a lot of effective ways to do this:
- The Direct Insult-
- “What are you, stupid?”
- “Yes. Let’s spend all of our money on jewelry and trips to foreign lands and forget we have credit cards. Smart idea.”
- “Unlike you, I truly understand the research, Kelly. After all, I’m a scientist.”
5. Attack the person, not their ideas.
- “How would you know? If you had a brain, you’d be dangerous!”
- “I wish I had a quarter for every time you were wrong about something. I’d be a millionaire.”
- “Of course you don’t believe me. If you did, you’d have to stop your shop-a-holic ways.”
- “That is, like, the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard you say, and I’ve heard you say quite a few dumb things.”
6. When your partner starts to develop some persuasive rationale for their argument, redirect the focus onto their identity, rather than the argument at hand.
- “Is that the way a loving mother thinks? That they would risk their children’s life “hoping” bad things won’t happen?”
- “You call yourself a professional?!!”
- “Now you want to be a farmer? You’re afraid of everything, including bugs!”
7. Try simple name-calling.
- “You really are an idiot, you know that?”
- “Now you’re Mr. Environment?!”
- “Do you what ‘sheeple’ are? You should, because you and your friends fit the description perfectly.”
- “Chicken Little! Chicken Little! Look, Susie, Mommy is a big Chicken Little! She thinks the sky is falling!” (This is particularly effective–bringing in an innocent third party to help you to attach a critical label…)
8. Emphasize their gullibility.
- “What, do you believe everything you read?”
9. Make Threats.
- “If you don’t stop spending your time on those websites, I’m going to smash that stupid computer!!”
- “Whether you want to, or not, you’re going to have to change, if you want to stay in this family.
- “If you keep talking like that at the kitchen table, you’re not welcome to eat with us anymore.”
- “I’ll give you one more chance to change the subject, or I’m out of here!”
10. Negatively ‘forecast’ and link their beliefs to bad things.
- “We’ll have about 6 more months to cash in the IRAs before we’ll lose all of it. Can you live with yourself, knowing you could have done something to prevent it, and you refused to?”
- “I know what’s going to happen: We’re going to make all of these dramatic changes, and in a year from now, you’ll have another new thing that will disrupt our lives some other way.”
- Our children are already doing poorly in school, and I think it’s listening to that kind of talk. Do you want them to end up suicidal?
11. Digress and distract.
- (In response to discussion about carbon release in air travel) “Speaking of air travel, here’s where I thought we could go on vacation next year…” (That’s a double whammy, because you digress with your own argument…)
- “Honey, are you okay? You sound hoarse. Are you getting a cold?”
12. Be irrational.
- “Your brother will lend us money and we can move to New Zealand, where we’ll raise sheep.”
- “…But you’re allergic to wool, and my brother’s unemployed…”
13. Make broad sweeping generalizations about your partner.
- “Why do you always…!”
- “How come you never…!”
- “You haven’t been right about anything yet!”
14. Exaggerate to the absurd.
- “If I listened to you, we’d end up in poverty!”
- “If you said one positive thing, I’d have a heart attack, do you know that?”
And if all else fails:
15. Shout down your partner.
- “SHUT UP! or the more polite “WOULD YOU PLEASE STOP TALKING!”
- “JUST STOP TALKING NOW!”
- “YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT!”
- “THIS WHOLE CONVERSATION IS A WASTE OF TIME!”
- “IT’S SO INCREDIBLY RIDICULOUS TRYING TO HAVE A SERIOUS CONVERSATION WITH YOU!”