Knowing when to not respond

We’ve all come across them. Whether in person, over the phone, or over email, some arguments simply cannot be solved.

Sometimes you can see the other side’s perspective, but don’t agree with it. At other times their perspective just doesn’t make sense.

I naturally enjoy solving problems. So when faced with this situation, my natural inclination is to continue to explain my rationale, evaluate the other side’s reasoning, and try to resolve the disagreement by attaining the objective truth.

However, I’ve been in such situations enough times to know that there’s a point beyond which this problem solving approach doesn’t work. An easy way to determine whether you’ve passed this point is to ask yourself whether continuing to explain your reasoning will make you more likely to solve the problem. After a certain point, this is no longer the case. More explanations will have no impact at best, and deepen the rift at worst. And deep down, you already know when you’ve passed this point.

At times like this, it’s best to not respond and leave the problem unsolved. Sometimes the problem naturally takes care of itself with time. Either the facts change or the sides’ perspectives change. At other times both sides recognize that it isn’t worth arguing over and agree to move forward despite the disagreement. And at other times it’s an irreconcilable difference that causes each side to go their own way.

Whatever the eventual outcome, you know when you’ve passed the point where explaining your reasoning is going to contribute to solving the problem. You know when to not respond.