I am never tired of repeating this story. If you have heard it before, skip it and pass to the next part. It’s about a Sales Manager of a well-known ceramic factory who was on a sales campaign in Srilanka. He visited several well-known hotels in Colombo and succeeded in concluding his big deals with them. His final destination was the prestigious Taj Samudra. His talks with the Hotel’s Purchase Manager were very cordial and the hotel agreed to place a substantial order for a huge supply of teacups and what have you. As they were waiting for the contract papers to be got ready, the Hotel Manager ordered for tea. In due time the gleaming trays arrived with piping hot tea and mouth watering cookies. The Sales Manager took one look at the teacups and commented that the round handles were not in vogue any more as they did not provide a strong grip. He opined that oval handles were any day better. An inevitable argument ensued between him and the Purchase Manager of the hotel. After what seemed an eternity, the Purchase Manager conceded reluctantly that the oval handles did have their merit. He then went ahead and cancelled the order he was about to place with the Sales Manager of the ceramic factory! Arguments are the most counter productive pastime a human being can indulge in. We are told that the ability to smile is a very special characteristic of humans. We may add arguing too in that category except that smiling wins us friends and arguing takes them away. The rift created by an argument can be temporary or lifelong. When I was in my eighth standard in the Hindu High School in Chennai, I had two classmates named Muthukumar and Chandrasekar. Both were lively chaps and great friends too. Those days we used to have two classes a week called ‘Craft classes’. The craft master used to thrust a wad of cotton in our hands and asked us to spin yarn out of it using a hand-held device called ‘Thakli’. One day, Muthu remarked that craft classes were a sheer waste of time and a big bore too. He wondered how such an activity as spinning yarn out of cotton was going to help any student pursue his goals in life. Chandru, who was a priest’s son, took serious exception to Muthu’s statement. His father used to spin yarn with a Thakli to make ‘Poonal’ (sacred thread) for sale to his customers. Chandru, without mentioning his father, retorted that any activity could provide a livelihood for an enterprising man. This blew up into a big argument with students taking sides. Muthu had the majority supporting him and this made Chandru even more caustic! At the end of it, the two best friends parted swearing never to see each other’s face again. And believe me when Muthu passed away three years later by drowning off Marina, everyone was there to mourn his death except Chandru. It is the basic nature of a man (or woman?) to expect that whatever he says is accepted. In a private one to one conversation, a discord or disagreement may not go out of hand but in a gathering or a group, it may generate ill humour with the people around taking sides. It soon grows into an argument and the more heated it gets, the more destructive it becomes. Nothing hurts a man’s ego more than when he finds himself at the losing end of an argument. A loser in argument has several telltale signs. His decibel level increases, his hands develop tremor, his speech becomes incoherent, he tends to forget the issue that is being argued out and moves on to the persons involved and finally starts uttering inanities! Among uneducated people, arguments are often settled with physical strength and may even result in death. How often we read in newspapers that drunken brawls among close friends ending in stabbing each other? It is an irony of life that such a destructive human activity usually arises out of non-issues. There is nothing that is sought to be gained in an argument except the satisfaction of our ego but the price that we pay for the same can be hefty. If we go through the bitter arguments that we may have had in our lives at various stages with our friends, siblings, parents, colleagues and strangers, we would see that they were all on a very inconsequential matter but they robbed our happiness for long stretches of time. No one in his right mind would argue, particularly when he is about to clinch a big business deal, on the shape of a cup’s handle but when such an argument ensues, he fights it out as if his whole life depends on it unmindful of the disastrous consequences. Psychologists say that the tendency to argue at the drop of a hat is a sign of a feeling of insecurity. Supremely confident persons never indulge in vain arguments. Every one wants to win an argument even if it is a trivial one to establish that he is a cut above the rest. But unfortunately in that process, he only succeeds in showing himself in a poorer colour NO ONE WARMS TO AN ARGUMENTATIVE PERSON. Let us do some introspection about what we have lost in different stages of our life through such unproductive arguments and if they were necessary at all. In future, if you ever feel an urge to argue, do it with yourself!