does anyone else do this?

So, When i grew up I never really took a position on anything. I was kind of shy and didn't want to have an other opinion than my friends.

Now, I'm 17 and I have some opinions that I want argue if I feel my friends are wrong. The problem is, I think I'm still kind of a bit insecure. I don't know.
If there's something that I'm really certain of and try to say that to one of my friends. They are really confident and say no. "That's not how it is". I always go back and say "ok, I think I'm right, but I might be wrong as well".

like when recently me and a friend got in a discussion about statistics i said "Well, if you look at the statistics, that show that I'm right" he replied with "Well, you can't trust statistics". I wasn't able to continue that because he just said "You can't". Of course I tried a couple of times to give arguments why you really can trust them, but since he was so stubborn I couldn't continue and gave up.

I'm not really confident when I'm in a discussion. Is this normal or is this something I should do something about? I might just be bad at discussing things though :/

and another thing, When I watch all that crap with Anita Sarkeesian(Yeah, I don't like her that much, it's just something about her that makes me feel that she's just voicing her own feelings and aggression, but that's not what I want to talk about), I feel like she does have a point an certain things and agree with her and then watch a video reply where someone says that many of the things she said is wrong I find myself agreeing with him. I think I'm really bad at choosing a side and sticking to it.

Anyone else do this? and I want to be able to be more assertive(not sure if assertive is the right word) in a discussion. to improve my discussing skill(?) is there any books I could read?

I'd say you are simply not a confrontational person by nature. Your friend sounds pretty stubborn and you don't want to get into an argument about it so you don't pursue it.

It's not inherently a bad thing, the only thing you may need to look out for is when you let something go when it doesn't feel right to. Being a peaceful and thoughtful person is not wrong, but it's not always better to be seen as such if it means not standing up for your beliefs.

I have a friend who used to drive me and another friend insane when younger. He'd agree with both of us even when we said completely contradictory things, as he didn't want to be seen as argumentative. While it worked, it was incredibly frustrating to see that they didn't really seem to have their own opinion, and just wanted to seem agreeable.

As for Anita Sarkeesian, why pick a side? Being able to see merits in arguments for and against her isn't being indecisive unless they contradict one another. If you think she makes good points, and so does the other side then that's fine, as long as you are able to form your own opinion based upon it.

I think you seem to be looking at things in black and white a bit too much. Most things aren't, there isn't often a completely right side and a completely wrong one.

If you want to be assertive then it's relatively simple. Say what you honestly feel, and stand up for it. Don't be rude or aggressive if people disagree, but don't apologise or say you were wrong if you genuinely don't feel that you are. Believe that your opinion on whatever is being discussed is as valid as anybody else's, don't say things you don't feel just to be agreeable.

Legion:
I'd say you are simply not a confrontational person by nature. Your friend sounds pretty stubborn and you don't want to get into an argument about it so you don't pursue it.

It's not inherently a bad thing, the only thing you may need to look out for is when you let something go when it doesn't feel right to. Being a peaceful and thoughtful person is not wrong, but it's not always better to be seen as such if it means not standing up for your beliefs.

I have a friend who used to drive me and another friend insane when younger. He'd agree with both of us even when we said completely contradictory things, as he didn't want to be seen as argumentative. While it worked, it was incredibly frustrating to see that they didn't really seem to have their own opinion, and just wanted to seem agreeable.

As for Anita Sarkeesian, why pick a side? Being able to see merits in arguments for and against her isn't being indecisive unless they contradict one another. If you think she makes good points, and so does the other side then that's fine, as long as you are able to form your own opinion based upon it.

I think you seem to be looking at things in black and white a bit too much. Most things aren't, there isn't often a completely right side and a completely wrong one.

If you want to be assertive then it's relatively simple. Say what you honestly feel, and stand up for it. Don't be rude or aggressive if people disagree, but don't apologise or say you were wrong if you genuinely don't feel that you are. Believe that your opinion on whatever is being discussed is as valid as anybody else's, don't say things you don't feel just to be agreeable.

Thanks. That was very reassuring.
And about Anita thing, I'm not sure if I have an opinion yet. Maybe when she's released more of her videos.
Thanks again :)

I'm similar. I'm often able to see multiple sides and consider many opinions on topics, which makes it hard for me to choose one that I think is 'right'. I prefer to listen to other people's discussions, and only offer relevant evidence or considerations rather than make conclusive statements (such as "Well, statistics suggest this, consider that" instead of "Well, statistics suggest this, so I'm right").

I am also shy, but I don't think this is a matter of confidence so much as it is a matter of diplomacy and perhaps even open mindedness. With the Sarkeesian thing, like Legion said, you don't have to pick a side. You don't have to go 'this person is right/wrong all the time'... in fact, that would be a very silly thing to do. Judge people's points and arguments on the argument alone, don't just agree or disagree because you like/dislike them generally.

The older I get, the more knowledge I have on subjects I'm having discussions in and the better I can form firm opinions that I feel like I can firmly argue for. If someone then comes up with a new counter argument that I don't have a response to, I will back down until I've widened my knowledge enough to rebuff the new counter arguments as well.

I don't like confrontation, but if I've armed myself with good arguments (sometimes I even practice in my head so I feel like I can communicate my ideas clearly) I feel comfortable getting into discussions with people who I disagree with on important matters.

Incidentally, I think your friend is right that you cannot trust statistics completely (it is very easy to manipulate figures to make them seem to back up your argument) but that does not mean that you completely cannot trust statistics (if you analyse how the statistics were gathered and are sure that they cover a large enough group in the relevant area that you're discussing and that the statistics were gathered without manipulation or tricks).

To improve your skills in arguing in specific areas you of course simply need to read up on more knowledge/evidence/data on the subject in question. But to improve your skills in arguing in general (handy for being able to spot where people aren't arguing logically or where the holes are in their arguments) I'd read up on Critical Thinking. There are a lot of books for students on Critical Thinking because it's the key to excellent essay writing, so check out your local library or your school library if you're still in school/college.

lisadagz:
I'm similar. I'm often able to see multiple sides and consider many opinions on topics, which makes it hard for me to choose one that I think is 'right'. I prefer to listen to other people's discussions, and only offer relevant evidence or considerations rather than make conclusive statements (such as "Well, statistics suggest this, consider that" instead of "Well, statistics suggest this, so I'm right").

I am also shy, but I don't think this is a matter of confidence so much as it is a matter of diplomacy and perhaps even open mindedness. With the Sarkeesian thing, like Legion said, you don't have to pick a side. You don't have to go 'this person is right/wrong all the time'... in fact, that would be a very silly thing to do. Judge people's points and arguments on the argument alone, don't just agree or disagree because you like/dislike them generally.

The older I get, the more knowledge I have on subjects I'm having discussions in and the better I can form firm opinions that I feel like I can firmly argue for. If someone then comes up with a new counter argument that I don't have a response to, I will back down until I've widened my knowledge enough to rebuff the new counter arguments as well.

I don't like confrontation, but if I've armed myself with good arguments (sometimes I even practice in my head so I feel like I can communicate my ideas clearly) I feel comfortable getting into discussions with people who I disagree with on important matters.

Incidentally, I think your friend is right that you cannot trust statistics completely (it is very easy to manipulate figures to make them seem to back up your argument) but that does not mean that you completely cannot trust statistics (if you analyse how the statistics were gathered and are sure that they cover a large enough group in the relevant area that you're discussing and that the statistics were gathered without manipulation or tricks).

To improve your skills in arguing in specific areas you of course simply need to read up on more knowledge/evidence/data on the subject in question. But to improve your skills in arguing in general (handy for being able to spot where people aren't arguing logically or where the holes are in their arguments) I'd read up on Critical Thinking. There are a lot of books for students on Critical Thinking because it's the key to excellent essay writing, so check out your local library or your school library if you're still in school/college.

Yeah, I think that I will become better at this when I get a bit older. Although, a lot of guys I know seem to be better at it than me. So I just wanted to know what you guys thought.

I guess some statistics can't be trusted, but I didn't refer to any statistic specifically. and if you don't trust statistics what sources are you using to determine if you are right or not. I guess personal experience is one that you can trust a lot of times, but not always. If you read something on the internet, that too could have been falsified.
I know you can't trust everything, but to me it sounded like he didn't believe it because it was opposite of what he thought, which is why I wanted to try and argue for it. But meh, it's not really that important :)

I think this is probably just down to inexperience. If I were you it's not something I would spend much time worrying about.

It doesn't really matter whether you can actually convince anyone else in an argument of something, as long as you have a good reason for believing it yourself. As long as you're intellectually honest with your own arguments and beliefs, then it doesn't really matter at all whether you can convince someone to your way of thinking. Sometimes, even if you're right and you can confidently back up everything you have to say in an argument, people will disregard you and will not be convinced anyway, because they don't want to be wrong. So it's not really important to be good at arguing a point with another person, it's just being good at assessing arguments in general.

But obviously you can't go through life without arguing with anyone at all, or discussing opposing points of view. Doing so can help you be a batter person, and be more intellectually honest with yourself. You might, maybe without even intending to, ignore something that would make your position invalid. Discussing stuff might bring up this kind of thing and help you reconsider things in a deeper way. The only way to gain that is through experience. At first you probably will get stumped a lot and have things brought up that you weren't prepared for, but it's not the end of the world. That allows you to act on that and hold a better position next time the topic comes up. Don't worry about failing to argue your point in one single discussion, because it'll better prepare you for the next. It doesn't really matter that you failed to convince that person, what matters is that you found out something that means you might need to reconsider your own position, and therefore improve it. If you don't, then if the topic comes up again you'll be more prepared to deliver your justification that you were unable to call upon before.

If you want to learn how to assess arguments better and argue better yourself then I really suggest looking in to learning critical thinking as an academic subject. That's basically what the topic is all about. It's quite interesting and actually relatively easy. It should be all common sense to an analytical mind, which is what you seem to have. Here's a website with some resources on a UK college level course on the topic. This is a course I actually personally took and found it to be pretty simple and easy to understand, but also pretty effective. The website looks like it's fairly good to me, but I had a hard time actually finding any good resources on the topic when I searched. Either way, try looking in to the topic yourself too.

And as for the Anita Sarkeesian stuff, I wouldn't bother trying to take any specific position. There are a lot of good points out there about it, but the whole subject is so bogged down in BS that it's just way too much effort for what it's worth. This website is also an especially terrible place to discuss it.

EDIT: Looks like I was beaten on the critical thinking thing. But seriously, look in to it. And I wouldn't worry about other people seeming like they're better at arguing than you. They're probably just more confident because they think they're better than they are. But confidence actually has zero correlation with accuracy.

Cyfu:
I guess some statistics can't be trusted, but I didn't refer to any statistic specifically. and if you don't trust statistics what sources are you using to determine if you are right or not. I guess personal experience is one that you can trust a lot of times, but not always. If you read something on the internet, that too could have been falsified.
I know you can't trust everything, but to me it sounded like he didn't believe it because it was opposite of what he thought, which is why I wanted to try and argue for it. But meh, it's not really that important :)

Evidence in general can usually be disputed. This is why court cases are so complicated - even if someone's seen something with their own eyes there's the possibility that they are wrong: maybe they misunderstood the situation, maybe their eyesight isn't too good, maybe they're remembering it wrong (or lying!). And you're right, if the evidence is against your own opinion, you're much more likely to try to say it's wrong. So it's hard to completely convince anyone even when the evidence backs you up - hopefully they will be open minded about what you have to say but if they're completely stubborn even the most clever of debaters might not be able to get through to them. All you can do is provide the most solid evidence and watertight arguments you can, being right doesn't mean you'll necessarily win the argument.

Also what makes things a tricky business is that sometimes your arguments are based on what you think is common sense. The last time I tried to hold my own in an argument I was basing it on what I thought everyone would agree with - that television influences people's ideas - and the person I was arguing with just completely shut me down by saying with complete confidence "it's not like anyone's going to be basing their ideas off a CARTOON". I wasn't ready to argue about why I thought they DO, because I'd just thought it was a generally accepted idea. It was only after I'd had time to think about it that I could have come up with a comeback to that, but by then the discussion was finished.

So you'll find that you can be more persuasive if you've considered what counter-arguments people might have against your own arguments, and how you might address those points. This is why I enjoy witnessing other people's debates - I can see what people from both sides are saying so I have an idea of what reactions might be if I brought up similar ideas.

All this stuff about taking sides.
I don't think you should place such an importance on taking sides. In an issue where neither side can objectively prove their side to be correct, you don't need to take sides. In fact, I'd discourage you from taking a side. Look at the evidence available and ask yourself whether there's enough evidence to claim something on way or the other. If there isn't, just consider the issue, but reserve making a statement on it to when more information is available.
Of course there's nothing wrong with thinking that one conclusion might seem more reasonable or more strongly supported by fact, but even if you think so that doesn't mean you need to take anyone's side. Acknowledge that you don't know and maybe that you can't know (at least not yet). You'll be better off for not binding yourself to a view that might turn out to be incorrect.

Always be prepared to reform your views in the face of evidence or well-formulated logical arguments.

"Ok, I think I'm right, but I might be wrong as well"

This is actually an excellent position to hold, and you should not endeavour to change your habit of taking this approach to matters.

Your problem, it seems, is one of assertiveness, not in being insecure in your own stances.
Don't try to change yourself into someone who's able to say "No, this is how it is: you're wrong". Change yourself into someone who challenges your friends' claims by pointing out why their claims don't hold water, then you can follow that up with saying "...so that's why what you're saying is probably wrong. Here's what I think is right, but I could be wrong as well".

What is important is that you find out what values you hold dear, and that you stand up for these when you feel they are violated.
That is pretty much the only case in which being so sure of yourself is a good thing, because values can not be objectively proven to be right or wrong. They're true to you, and you should make yourself heard when they are in danger of being compromised.

Not everyone is confrontational or need to be.
Being able to understand both sides of the arguement makes you a more flexible and open minded person.
I think you should just take your time to think, and also take your time to study and learn more about everything in general until you can feel confident that you can stand by your views when necessary.

 

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