Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Art of Argument

After two grueling weeks of insane deadlines I found myself without a blog topic today. Three mugs of caffeinated creativity later - inspiration hit. Well, not quite inspiration – more like 2 heated emails, a battle with my beloved offspring regarding his wardrobe choice and a call from a reader, irate over her daughter’s picture on the front page. (“She looks chunky!” God help me.)

From all that - I got this: I enjoy a good debate.

Merriam-Webster’s defines debate: 1) A discussion involving opposing claims; an argument. (2) A regulated contest in which two opposing sides defend and attack a proposition.

I define debate: 1) I’m right – you’re wrong. 2) Accept it or buckle up!

Yes, at first blush this sounds *gasp* stubborn. But as long as I maintain an even temper, listen to the opponent’s points and argue my case sans profanity and/or bloodshed, what’s the problem? Here’s my method:

Babble’s Top 10 Debate Strategies

10. Compliment: Whether confronting a family member, co-worker or political rival – lead with warmth. (The kill comes later.)

9. Smile: This visual cue says 1 of 2 things; “I am kind” or “I am deranged” - let them guess.

8. Eye Contact: Maintain to the point of discomfort. (This method sways above mentioned Smile into deranged category, thus instilling a false sense of mental superiority and/or fear within opponent.)

7. Know Your Facts: For the love of all that’s Holy - know what the *BLEEP* you are talking about! Flying by the seat of your pants only leads to an unexpected load of whites and heaps of Stain Stick.

6. Be Humble: Nobody likes a bragger! If your wife owns two Cadillacs, keep that factoid parked in the garage between the Bentleys!

5. Establish Common Ground: “You like ice cream, Mr. Opponent? I like ice cream, too! I should friend you on Facebook!”

4. Mull: Before contradicting – contemplate. This works well with spouses. (“Will harping on the dirty socks blanketing the bedroom floor help my case?”)

3. Words: Pick carefully! Once they leave your mouth – they leave an impression. Avoid shore-leave language.

2. Concise – Cannot believe I’m typing this – don’t babble. Make your point – make an exit.

1. Respect: Bottom line – you’re right and you know it, but the other side may never see it that way. Call a truce before things get ugly. Hitting below the belt never works – stay above the waist. (Egad – I’m flashing back to Catholic school slow dance rules.)

Happy Spring!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Gone to the Dogs - Volume 2

Hi there Babble fans! It’s me, Maggie!

Mom can’t come to the laptop right now; she’s tied up in Deadline Land. It happens every year about this time, tournament basketball and politics heat up and her assignment sheet goes from manageable to “shoot me now.” So – while stressed Mom snarfs down sleeve after sleeve of Thin Mints like a manners deficient buzz saw, I thought you might like to hear a few things I’ve learned about my humans.

First, the big guy – Dad, is a complete pushover. He likes to pretend he’s all “alpha male”, pah-leez, he’s not fooling anyone. In fact, he’s my “mark” at the dinner table. Sure, I sit like a good girl beneath the table, but I’ve got a system – give Dad’s ankle a quick lick and break out the “poor, starving me” eyes –and it’s HELLO, POT ROAST!

Mom, well she’s a different story. She doesn’t cave easy and it takes a bit more finesse and planning. Late at night I watch her struggle with her WIP, she gets this “why the BLANK bother” expression. (Depending on fatigue, the BLANKS get pretty colorful.) That’s when I move in for the kill. A little whimper, an affectionate head nudge, top it off with an “I believe in you, Mom!” expression, and BAM – cookie for me, wine for Mom. Everybody wins.

My Big Brother is the silent type. (Yes, my mother is one of those dorks who refers to me as one of her kids – but if you ask me, until one of the human kiddos poop on the lawn or sprout a tail - I think she’s bonkers!) After a tough day, it takes a KGB Interrogation Team to pull the details out of BB, but one round of our infamous “tackle basketball” and his disposition infinitely improves. The best part - when he thinks no one’s around, BB leans in, squishes my floppy face in his hands and tells me he loves me. (Melts Mom’s heart.)

Little Brother, oh Little Brother is far more complicated than can be contained in one blog. LB and I have a Timmy and Lassie type relationship; he’s what you might call a Consequence Impaired Adventurer. I’ve yanked his teetering, Levis clad behind down from the edge of the well WAY too many times to mention, and truth be told, I’m exhausted. But there’s no one a Lab loves more than a messy eater with hyperactivity issues. A match made in Heaven!

And there you have it – my life in Babble Land, but before I sign off I’m going to ask a little favor. It is my 2nd birthday on March 17th, yep, St. Pats - an Irish girl to the core! And the best gift you could give me is to find room in your heart and home for a four legged family member – there are plenty of us out there waiting for our forever homes – maybe it’s yours?

Thinking of adopting a pet? Click here!