If you’ve ever heard someone say to you “pick your battles” it might have been meant as friendly caution to not go arguing just for the fun of it, or it might mean that you tend to like causing a tumult wherever you go just to see the effect. One can only hope it’s not the latter, but the former isn’t any better.

In truth, picking your battles is all about knowing when to stand your ground and when to give in. A lot of people don’t like to give, it means that you have to concede to someone else and admit that their ideas might be more sound than your own. If you take it in a negative manner then it becomes something that might seem worth fighting over, and unfortunately that’s not how forward progress works. If however, your idea does manage to outshine that of someone else who doesn’t want to back down, then picking your battle means that you’d best have the kind of backup and clout you need, otherwise it’s very likely that you’ll lose even if you’re right.

Picking your battles means having some kind of advantage to fall back on.

The excuse of “just because” doesn’t work so well when we’re kids, and it works even less when we’re adults. “Just because” is the last bastion of someone that doesn’t have any ground to stand on in an argument and will fight for their point even if they don’t have one. When walking into any fight over any subject it’s best to know that you have something to fall back on, facts, hard data, or even a few sly tricks you can use to gain the upper hand. Coming into any fight, be it verbal, physical, mental, or emotional, with an empty clip, metaphorically-speaking, is going to force you to bluff and trick your way around a corner and hope that the other person doesn’t catch you in the act. Once a bluffer is unveiled the “just because” argument is about all they rely upon, and if that happens then they’ve lost before they ever started.

When picking your battles make sure you have the right ammunition for the fight ahead.

Not every argument is worth fighting over.

There are times when an honest and amicable discussion can be far more pleasing than a full-on argument that you don’t stand a chance of winning or might make an enemy over. Think about what’s being discussed before you decide to make your stance known and then think twice before you decide to get into the thick of it. Can you add anything to the discussion? Can you give a differing viewpoint without being confrontational? Can you even discuss the subject in a rational and unbiased manner? If none of these questions ends with an affirmative then you might want to think about backing down before you ever step up. Too many people feel the need to champion any and every cause that they think they know a little about and end up creating an argument that they stand no chance of winning. In many cases this is how a truly divisive war of words is created between individuals and even opposing groups.

Pick and choose the battles you fight, don’t feel compelled to fight them all.

Unfortunately some people live for the fight.

Some folks can’t seem to go without a little verbal struggle now and then as it seems to fuel them in the same way that drama and violence fuels the movie industry at times. They might not have any strong feeling one way or another about a given subject but they’ll still seek to argue with those that have strong and very opinionated feelings one way or another. They might even seek to play devil’s advocate and stir up trouble, which is akin to dropping a live grenade in the room and then running for cover. A word-bomb is one of the most detestable things a person can do since it serves little purpose other than to incite an argument that will irritate and anger many people and have no clear resolution.

If someone actively tries to get you to argue with them just walk away. They’re in it for the amusement, and you don’t owe them a response.

Argue for a reason and a purpose, don’t fight just because you feel the need.

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