I’m generally a proponent of acting rationally. Our actions tend to be more with what we want to achieve. We don’t expect others to do things that are unreasonable. And we don’t ignore the facts of the situation. When we do that we tend to get better results. Or at least we have a better chance at getting the results we want.
Having said that there is a time when being rational can cause us great frustration and not get us any closer to achieving what we want to achieve. That is when we are dealing with another person and they choose to act irrationally. I’m not talking about simple difference of opinion or minor flaws in logic. I’m talking about those times you run into someone that is just full blown illogical and irrational. You might recognize the situation when you put forth a very reasonable request or opinion and the response you get seems so bizarre that you are just confused.
The problem comes when we keep trying to be rational with that person when it becomes clear that they don’t intend to be rational at all. They are going to continue to behave in a ways or offer arguments that make you throw up your hands in frustration. And that is what will happen. You’ll become more and more frustrated as you attempt to be more and more logical and their responses just don’t make sense. Often our instinct is to just keep being logical. If we say it enough times the other person will finally get it. They may not agree but at least their response will be rational. But frequently that doesn’t happen.
When we get in these situations it is important to recognize what is happening. If we continue going back and expecting rational behavior we are simply going to become more and more frustrated with our lack of success. This process is very similar to one I have talked about before…when one person argues for process and the other argues to win on facts. That often happens with parents and children. Children often argue for process, meaning they argue simply to get you to argue. That is why you can present clear and conclusive factual evidence to to support your point and still not be able to win the argument. Since the child simply wants to argue, they are “winning” as long as they get you to continue to argue, even if you have all of the facts on your side.
So what do you do in these situations? It may be one of the hardest things to do. You may very likely have to admit that you can’t win the argument even though you may have all of the facts and be correct. If the other person won’t engage on that rational level, there is no way to convince them. It can be hard, but you have to acknowledge that given the other persons stance, you may take a larger toll on yourself if you keep trying to convince them. Sometimes you just have to let it go…unless you like banging your head against a brink wall.