Friday, June 09, 2006

Turn Down the Volume

I sat back and watched two people argue the other day. The “Bob” told “Jon” that he was hurt by something Jon said. Jon said that he didn’t SAY that, he said this. Bob said he didn’t hear this, he heard that. “Well, that is not true!” said Jon, “this is true!” “This cannot be true because I heard that!” “But I already told you, THAT is not true, this is!” “This isn’t true because you said that!” “I DIDN’T SAY THAT, I SAID THIS!” And on and on it went. I am sure that you have heard the argument and maybe even participated in something like that. Basically, the people were talking right past each other and not hearing a word the other was saying.

I sat and watched, and analyzed. I was happy that I was not a part of it but uncomfortable that I had to hear it along with 20 other people who were in the same place. The argument started low key enough but ended at high volume with both Bob and Jon yelling their version of the “truth.” The fact is neither of them had a handle on the “truth.” Neither of them was totally in the right, and neither was totally in the wrong. So how did they try to resolve the problem? They both came up with the same solution that we all try at one time or another … we turn up the volume. With each round of “yes you did … no I didn’t” the volume got turned up a notch. The volume got turned so far up that both were red-faced and spitting at each other.

Now were did we come up with the idea that increased volume means increased truth? I think maybe intimidation has a lot to do with it. Intimidating people are not just those with huge muscles, they are the people who know how to ratchet up the anger to the point of scaring the other person and therefore getting their way, and therefore believing in their own version of truth. I think that the “squeaky wheel” syndrome may apply when one of the people arguing decides his version of the truth is simply not worth the volume the other is projecting so they give in. I think there are many factors to increased volume.

Increased volume does not mean increased truth. So the next time you find yourself cranking up the volume in an argument find the knob and turn it back down. Often decreased volume means increased self-confidence just think of The Godfather.

No comments: