Are arguments unhealthy? Why conflict can be beneficial in life

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Kevin Mangelschots

Are arguments unhealthy or not?

What we can say for sure is that most people dread conflict because of the intense feelings it typically invokes. It creates such strong tension that it frequently conjures feelings such as anxiety, and sometimes even fear.

As such, it’s no wonder that most folks aren’t too fond of arguments with other individuals. Yet, conflict is absolutely essential to create and preserve a well functioning society.

Let me explain why it is good to debate with people in some instances.

Are arguments unhealthy or not?

A person holding a question mark in front of their face.

That depends. Conflict can be good, or bad depending on intent, on how they’re handled. Arguments in themselves are not unhealthy.

As a matter of fact, arguments can, and should be used in an attempt to solve issues, gain new insights, and a better understanding of one another.

Yet, some people utilize arguments in an attempt to be right, and to gain power and control over others.

If the main goal of engaging in an argument isn’t to solve a difficulty, or to reach a better perceptive of the other party, then it’s doomed to fail from the very start.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Is it good to argue with people?

It’s beneficial to argue with people when you do so with good intentions and when both individuals remain respectful.

Conflict should be used as a tool to figure out each other, obtain new information, and to solve difficulties.

It’s not good to argue with people if you and/or the other person have bad intentions, or do so without respect for each other.

We speak of bad intentions when the confrontation is used as a tool for power and control. More information about how to sniff out bad intentions can be found here.

A disrespectful argument could include characteristics such as not listening to each other, talking over each other, yelling, and insulting others among many other distasteful deeds.

Keep in mind that there are bad, and even straight up evil people in this world. That’s why it’s paramount to learn how to protect yourself from people with bad intentions.

Is it healthy to avoid arguments?

Image of white crooked arrows on a black background, signifying avoidance.

It is unhealthy to avoid arguments, unless you’re abstaining from engaging with someone who you know is just looking for trouble instead of solving tension.

Conflict should be seen as an opportunity to solve issues, and for both individuals to grow as people as they come to a better understanding of one another, with more knowledge of the subject(s) at hand.

Furthermore, learning to stand up for yourself and what you believe in is something that’s required, and that’s best learned early on in life. Deflecting arguments is fleeing with regard to the fight or flight response. And what we run from is inclined to grow in strength.

This means that each time we desperately avoid a conflict, it gets that much harder to engage in an argument the next time conflict happens.

Is it healthy to step away from an argument?

Image of two people walking on the pavement indicating they're stepping away.

It can be both healthy and unhealthy to step away from an argument, depending on the goal of the conflict and the other party.

Let me explain. It is healthy to walk away from an argument when you or the other individual are engaging in said conflict in an attempt to gain power, control, or simply to satisfy the need to be right.

It can also be advantageous to walk away, even ever so briefly when the moods get heated. When emotions flare up because the tension is high is typically when arguments spiral out of control and devolve into a chaotic mess. We know that arguing based on emotions instead of rational thought and common sense is a surefire way to end in disaster.

It is not healthy to step away from an argument that serves the purpose of gaining a better understanding of each other, gaining new knowledge, and/or to work out an issue.

You can’t always run in life, no matter how uncomfortable the situation might be. I understand that conflict is uncomfortable, stressful, and anxiety provoking. Yet, it is absolutely needed to fix troubles.

Is there a reason why you should never argue with anyone?

Let me start off by saying that I don’t believe in never arguing with anyone, although a good case can be made that a lot of conflicts are pointless.

The essential reason why you should never argue with anyone would be that it can be a giant waste of time and energy, since it regularly leads to absolutely nothing. It can also decay your friendship with the person you’re arguing with. Thus, it can be considered pointless in these specific instances.

That’s precisely why you should be capable of shutting down an argumentative person who’s just debating for the sake of it.

Continuously arguing only serves to solidify each individual’s stance. The point of an argument should be to resolve issues, and to reach a better understanding of where each party is coming from, and how their thought process works.

Thus, the only solution is to stop arguing with others, since you can’t change someone else’s opinion if they don’t want to.

Why is it good to argue with people?

However, respectfully arguing with others does have some very important functions.

It can lead to new knowledge and insights, a better understanding of each other’s point of view, and to solve conflicts that arise.

We know that problems tend to get larger the longer we ignore them. Thus, even small annoyances get so large over time that they become large hindrances if we don’t address them.

Therefore, respectfully arguing with others serves the indispensable purpose of solving issues, gaining new knowledge, and becoming more understanding and tolerant of other people’s views.

What kind of person likes to argue?

The person who’s likely to enjoy arguing will probably possess multiple personality traits such as being competitive, combative, extroverted, low in empathy, and low in trait agreeableness.

Certain personality types with mental health disorders also possess some, or a lot, of the aforementioned personality traits. Think of the narcissistic, antisocial, and psychopathic personality type.

Interestingly enough, individuals exhibiting dark triads traits are seen as more attractive, confident, dominant, and masculine.

They enjoy arguing, since they seek to hold control and power over others.

What personality type argues the most?

Big five personality type that argues the most

Image of the big 5 personality traits which are, conscientiousness, extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and neuroticism.

I would say that the individuals who display extroversion, and are low in trait agreeableness are the most likely personality type that argues the most.

Still, this is not a guarantee that someone who’s extroverted and disagreeable will automatically argue the most. It’s just that they’re more likely to do so.

Why?

Because extroverted personality types tend to put themselves on the forefront more than introverts do. And people who are disagreeable are frequently competitive, emotionally distant, and less empathic.

Dark triad personality type

A person displaying dark triad traits is also likely a personality type that argues a lot, if not the most.

For those unfamiliar with the dark triad, these personality traits are:

  • Narcissism
  • Machiavellianism
  • Psychopathy

These people are often impulsive, prideful, emotionally callous, remorseless, antisocial, and can possess a sense of grandiosity.

What is the psychology behind arguing?

The psychology behind arguing is that it arises due to a lack of understanding and/or empathy for each other’s point of view.

It can be used as a tool to gain power and control over others for those with malevolent purposes. But for those with good intentions, arguing can be used to solve problems, gain wisdom, and a better perspective of each other’s psyche.

When we’re not empathic of each other’s differences, then we will try to engage in a self-protective ‘fight/argument’ and become judgmental of the other party’s ideas, thoughts, and actions.

Furthermore, nobody likes to change their mind, since our psyche desperately tries to protect our ego. Changing our mind would imply that we would have to admit that we’ve based our decisions and actions on a false/wrong premise.

Arguing often goes off the rails since it puts you in a fight or flight situation. In other words, it’s a stressful situation that invokes feelings such as anxiety, and possibly even fear. This stress interferes with your ability to analyze, think rationally and critically, and be creative. Not to mention that it can make you emotional as well.

Is arguing all the time toxic?

Toxic bottles on a shelf.

Is it toxic to argue all the time?

It is toxic to argue all the time.

As said before, the goal of an argument is to solve issues, to attain a better understanding of each other’s beliefs, and to obtain new knowledge and apprehensions.

Hence, arguing should be reserved to resolve essential concerns in life. It’s not normal nor advised to start arguing over every little thing that you don’t agree with in this existence. That would simply result in a never ending cycle of frustration and arguing.

Never mind that since the goal is solving difficulties and tension between two parties, there shouldn’t be a need for never ending arguments since a definitive conclusion should be reached at the end of the discussion.

Is it disrespectful to argue?

Arguing with others in itself isn’t disrespectful at all. However, it depends on the reason and the manner of engaging in conflict with one another.

As long as you’re engaging in an argument to improve things, then it’s absolutely respectful and needed to do so.

Your demeanor is also important. Just because there’s a conflict doesn’t mean you don’t have to be respectful, honest, and kind to each other. You should always be humble enough to admit that you could be wrong, and that everyone can teach you something new and valuable.

Is yelling okay in an argument?

Image of a man and woman yelling at each other with their heads touching each other.

Yelling is never okay in an argument. It’s considered disrespectful and distasteful to do so.

A respectful argument means listening to each other, and giving other people enough time and room to speak in order to make their point before responding.

Yelling is considered rude, especially when used to intentionally talk over the other person in an attempt to silence them, frighten them, or intimidate them. Thus, it is used as a tool to control and maintain/get power over the other individual.

 

Conclusion

Image of the word, “conclusions” written on a black backboard with white chalk.

Arguments are healthy when they’re performed respectfully, and with good intentions. Good intentions mean that the goals should be to learn new things, acquire a better understanding of each other, and to resolve concerns.

They’re not beneficial when done with bad intentions or without respect. Bad intentions would involve attempting to gain power and control over others, or to satisfy the need to be right. That’s why speaking softly, but carrying a big stick is a good mentality to have in life.

Even so, arguments are paramount to resolve issues, and consequently to achieve and maintain a peaceful and cooperative society.