How to Fix Someone Without Being a Jerk

As we wrote earlier , sometimes the best way to argue with a jerk is to act like an asshole. But what about these more moderate disagreements, such as when that guy at the gym spews chatter about his routine, or your mother-in-law insists that her political views – and only hers – are correct?

If you disagree with a friend, you can probably get away with the simple “you’re wrong and here’s why,” but it won’t affect your relationship. But with, say, strangers, your boss, or people you usually try to impress, being an asshole isn’t the smartest move.

This particular thread came up on a recent Reddit thread, with users offering tips on how to check out someone without looking like a complete jerk. As u / r iotacting suggests, your first strategy should include asking them questions before they run into an error in their reasoning.

Ask them to explain their argument – why they think a certain thought is true or where they heard the idea from – and when the time is right, offer your thoughts without insisting that your opinion is correct. (Just don’t be light on this; if you’re not interested in their thoughts, it might be best to avoid it.)

Our editor-in-chief, Virginia, has a similar strategy for resolving differences. “To be honest, on social media I often go the passive path and say, ‘Oh, I think this is xyz? “And frame it as a question,” she said. “Or I’m fixing them but promoting them quickly and keeping them under wraps, perhaps self-deprecatingly joking about my own misunderstandings, depending on the context.” Give them the opportunity to correct themselves, or at least find gaps in their logic that need to be filled.

If this does not help , u / scienceforbid offer a simple strategy. “If I openly disagree with someone, after a minute I just say, ‘Aha! We can google it! “They said. “It adds humor to the situation and implies that either of them could be right.” (Of course, if you are arguing about politics , anyone can find a source to prove them right in the current news cycle; try non-partisan sites like FactCheck or PolitiFact instead .)

Redditors also seem to agree that tone and word choice matters a lot when dealing with someone whose facts are not true. “Avoid telling people they’re wrong and don’t tell them no,” recommends u / kamikazepuffer . “People want two things: to feel heard and to belong to them. Telling someone they are wrong doesn’t mean anything either. “

When all else fails, it’s up to you if you’re willing to compromise in the relationship; even despite the facts, people can still take the correction personally. If it’s a minor disagreement or an important relationship, perhaps you could give up this time (and for your own sanity if you’re not prone to confrontation).

However, if this happens over and over again, or is about a topic that affects you personally, then it might be time to show them your receipts. If they absolutely don’t want to listen, and you’ve tried everything, sometimes it’s okay to be a jerk! If you are sure they are wrong, be honest – just check your own facts first.


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