Argument or Negotiation?

When is a conversation an argument and when is it a negotiation? Although both arguments and negotiations try to resolve conflicts, there are differences.

Merriam-Webster defines an argument as “a): reason given in proof or rebuttal and b): discourse intended to persuade.”

Generally, in an argument, one side is trying to persuade the other that there is one correct way to view a situation. That side will work hard to persuade the other side of the validity of the argument. This is why many times arguments escalate.

As this article about persuasion from Suite 101
points out:

“When persuasion doesn’t work most people try again. They present their argument in a different fashion, hoping that their message will get through to the other side. But the other side has heard, considered, and firmly rejected the argument. Each repetition will only crank up the volume on an already unmistakable message: they disagree and repeated arguments will only aggravate them.”

Arguments tend to polarize and harden positions, sometimes resulting in grievances for both sides. Arguments can get personal and heated. Arguments tend to be zero-sum: only one side can be right. Negotiations, on the other hand, should be win-win.

Negotiations work to bridge positions, find the points of agreement so that a settlement can be reached. Negotiations find common ground, or areas where compromise can be made to achieve goals.

Negotiations involve some sort of bargaining whereas arguments require a complete turnaround in point of view.

In the end, if your goal is to achieve a solution to a problem, you don’t argue, you negotiate.

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