In a recent disagreement between me and a friend, she said to me, “Why do you have to be so argumentative all the time?” My response was, “Why is that a bad thing?”
In a world of seven billion different people, contradicting opinions are a common occurrence, and with these differing opinions come arguments. While not all arguments are constructive and some can be more hurtful than they are helpful, the majority of disagreement-based discussions are educational and harmless and therefore should not be written off as unconstructive and unnecessary.
Our opinions give us personality; they define us and dictate our decisions. Our beliefs and how we apply these beliefs are the only things that differentiate us from everyone else. Without opinions, we are void of all character and unremarkable compared to the other seven billion humans. Worse, if we have differing opinions on a subject yet choose not to express those opinions, we give up any chance to change the way things are. Those who dared to challenge the norm were the only ones who ever made a remarkable contribution to society. Every good idea, from the Declaration of Independence to the latest iPhone, began with one person fearlessly sharing their new idea with a person who did not share the same idea. Expressing an opinion is not a terrorist action; on the contrary, sharing and discussing opinions is a constructive method to solve a problem.
Fear of arguments often stems from a fear of being wrong: If a true argument, with two opposite sides, ends, there is usually a “loser” and a “winner.” The “losing side” realizes the validity of the argument against them and accepts that the other side right. However, no one wants to accept defeat, which is why arguments can become unproductive yelling matches. A healthy argument is a learning experience at its core; both the “winning side” and the “losing side” leave the argument better informed than they entered. The only way that both sides could “lose” the argument is if the conversation becomes hateful, or they stop listening to each other. At that point, the debate is pointless for both parties. However, when both sides of the argument pay attention to what the other has to say and dare to consider that they could be wrong, the parties learn how to defend themselves when challenged and accept their failure when necessary.
“Opinionated” and “argumentative” should not be considered insulting. Instead, they should connote a kind of bravery to say what is not popular and a willingness to learn through failure. Being opinionated makes a person dimensional and gives them a chance to do something significant. Arguing is a constructive way to discuss differing opinions and learn from other’s beliefs, despite the negative stigma attached to the word. Having opinions should not be a source of shame, nor should talking about those opinions.