Why do we Argue
Unlike the classic Rolling Stones song, people seem to get what they want, but not what they need. The hardest thing in the world is to watch someone you love struggle. So when they come to you with a problem, your want to fix it. Your immediate reaction is to offer them suggestions, when perhaps all they need to be heard. But this same person coming to you with a problem has been able to solve countless problems in their life. They seem to be able to navigate life in such a way that they can afford to drink or buy gas, but they cannot save to pay the rent. So lecturing them on the need to save and think about the future is useless. Their problem keeps happening and they continue to come to you with the same problem. Or perhaps you know someone in a relationship that is full of conflict and arguments. You listen as they tell the same sort of story about perceived acts of inconsideration, but the person refuses to speak up to their partner about it.
If people can tell others solutions to problems but cannot find answers to their own, it is probably not a problem that they cannot think of a solution. The problem is an emotional one, not a logical one. People avoid doing something, not because they cannot think of them, but because they see them as unpleasant and are best to be avoided. When you insist on repeating the obvious solution numerous time, trying to make yourself clear, only to be met with defensiveness and hostility, you can be sure that the issue is not the issue. The problem is not the obvious answer. The issue comes from some deeper fear, which is keeping them stuck because it serves some emotional want. Yet, they argue with you about how your answer is no answer at all.
Sometimes you argue because you are hearing something you do not want to hear. Whether in the words or in the tone, you are trying to be heard. You try to get someone’s attention with your words and tone because you believe your point is not being heard. Again, this attempt to get your point across is made with the words you speak or is embedded within your tone. In the first instance the emotional strong reaction stems from your resistance to not getting what you want. In the second, your reaction comes from having information that you believe is true, but that is being intentionally (or so you believe) denied by the intended recipient.
It is also important to note that there are important visceral or situational factors that are always involved. Stress levels, hormonal influences (think of teenagers,) and the status of the issue and/or relationship of the participants are all major factors in how well one deals with surging emotions, every bit as much as how well and effectively we can reason in an argument. As the ‘I won’t hear you / you must hear me’ frustration escalates, you succumb to the expression of sentiments that are hurtful and damaging. In these cases, the rage and argument seems to be, more than anything else, a way of gaining your partner’s attention. Naturally, this frustration occurs on both sides and in anger, anything can happen.