Questions vs Buts

By Greg Baer M.D.

May 8, 2012

Every day I get a number of questions from people who want guidance in some way. Some people are asking genuine questions, while others are arguing to maintain that their present beliefs or behaviors are right. How can we tell the difference between people—including ourselves—who are truly gathering information and those who are arguing? Allow me to offer some clues to help you distinguish between learners and arguers.

Learners ask real questions. They gather information so they can grow, change, improve. They're not satisfied with attitudes and behaviors that are less than productive.

Arguers don't ask questions. Oh sure, their sentences might end in a question mark–an upward inflection of tone at the end–but that doesn't define a question. Arguers issue challenges. They defend their present position. While learners ask how their behavior can be changed, arguers tell you how their present behavior is justifiable.

Learners ask how, while arguers say but—a lot. Learners say, "Thank you," while arguers become impatient with any suggestions contrary to their own opinions, and eventually they sulk. Learners are eager and happy. Arguers are resistant, difficult, and irritated.

Learners share the principles they have gathered, hoping to spread the joy they're experiencing. Arguers gather allies who will support the position they wish to defend.

Learners grow. They become happier. They can accomplish almost anything they desire. Arguers are deeply entrenched in their patterns of thinking and behaving, and they resent anything or anyone who interferes with those patterns.

Ask yourself if you're a learner or an arguer. The answer will determine whether you are happy or not.

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About the author 

Greg Baer, M.D.

I am the founder of The Real Love® Company, Inc, a non-profit organization. Following the sale of my successful ophthalmology practice I have dedicated the past 25 years to teaching people a remarkable process that replaces all of life's "crazy" with peace, confidence and meaning in various aspects of their personal lives, including parenting, marriages, the workplace and more.

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