Beyond military metaphors, which Tannen argues drive our "argument culture," what kinds of metaphors might we more usefully employ? What do military metaphors cause? From your perspective, is this a problem?
We can more usefully employ sports metaphors such as,That's a "grand slam" or "strike out". This enables people to not feel as attacked by comments. Military metaphors cause people to feel angry or attacked. It insinuates an argument and causes people to cruelly criticize or fail to listen to another perspective. Military metaphors can be problematic with people who don't respond well to criticism or fail to try to listen to a different perspective.
Instead of using a military metaphor it would be more useful to take a more peaceful approach. If the parties that are trying to come to an agreement would take a step back and consider the fact that they could be wrong then they would be more likely to listen. Instead they attack each other causing the other parties to feel like they have to defend themselves. When this happens they quit listening and start mounting a counter attack. This is a problem because problems do not get solved; more get created.
To say that the military metaphors that we use in speech give off a hostile approach to an argument is in the eye of the beholder. These metaphors are not used as tactics to win arguments, but merely to highlight the argument at hand. To “Shoot down an idea” has equal amount of hostility as “an idea that has struck out”. To “Strike” or to “Shoot” are both strong verbs used to highlight the intensity of what one is trying to project. If anything you could say that they are exaggerations of the intensity of one’s point of view. I don’t believe that those military metaphors are the cause of any inefficiency in debate. I think is far to say that these metaphors are subliminally a reflection of American culture.
Personally, I think that military metaphors can be very disrespectful when used to tear another person down. This is because some people tend to use them when they become irritated or when they are in disagreement with someone else's thoughts or ideas. In human nature, there is an impulse to interject with hostile language or expressions when we feel threatened by another person. Most military metaphors are harmless and I would not say that they are a big problem. This type of language has been in our culture for so long that I don't believe people even give these expressions a second thought. The problem with them is when they are used to discredit or diminish another person's character or reputation. This is not appropriate or even respectable. Instead of using harsh phrases, people should think more about what they say before actually interjecting. There are other kinds of metaphors that can be used, phrases that keep the mood positive and inviting. People show more respect to someone who can hold their tongue and act in a professional manor, even when their ideas are being attacked or when they are in opposition.
I agree with Tannen. Military metaphors do make our society more aggressive because, instead of getting defensive and literally attacking like animals, we attack with words. It is the "civilized" way to do things. Different options would be to use food metaphors or sports metaphors, but I see a problem with those as well. America is already the most obese county in the world. Food metaphors could be a big part of that because I say the test was a piece of cake and now I am thinking that cake sounds good and perhaps I want some. American society is sports obsessed. Many of the things we talk about can be related to sports. We place high values on athletes. High school athletes are popular. Professional athletes are overpaid. Sports are already prominent influences in our daily life weather we feel the need to "catch" the game this weekend or not. I do not think military metaphors are always negative. I think “battling cancer” is a good thing. Like anything else, from carbohydrates to gaming, the military, food, and sports metaphors have an appropriate place and are good in moderation. I don’t think the problem is the metaphors themselves, but the over use of the metaphors.
This article is saying that when most people argue or debate they are very close minded. Most people try to win the argument even though they may be wrong. The use of military metaphors reinforces this idea by seeing the argument as a battle, rather than viewing the situation as an opportunity to gain new ideas or even reshape their opinion on the issue. This is a hard trend to change because it is engraved in our society. In order to be able to change people will have to be open to listen to the other side of the argument.
I saw that using sports metaphors was suggested twice already but different people think of sports in different ways. There is the "good sport" who enjoys competition and can still smile when beaten fairly. Then there is the "bad sport" who will do anything to beat down their opponent. The court merely becomes a modern form of a battlefield that he/she can dominate on. So is it the use of metaphors that make us think a certain way, or does the way we think affect the metaphors we employ?
I beleive that these milataristic metaphors are inevitably going to be used, and as it stands there are no better metaphors to use because the military ones are the most closely tied to our culture. I've seen many people argue for sports metaphors, but really competitive sports are metaphors themselves for wars and batles so they would have a similar effect. Military metaphors are not nessisarily bad, they do invite more hostility into a conversation, but the other side of this coin is that they unite those with similar veiws to make each side of a debate stronger. The phrase "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" comes to mind, and the more tense the situation the stronger this psychological bond becomes. This is only a problem if the conversationalists are themselves of a violent and close minded nature. A debate between two sides with many people's inputs can create a wonderful solution, however if two large sides have no intention of a compromise those military metaphors may not be so "metaphorical" when the conversation ends. My main point is that the end result realy depends more on the people involved than the metaphors used, not to say that the metaphors have no impact, but that the way people interpret them contributes more.
When people argue with one another, they already have their mind set on what they believe and what their thinking is behind it. The use of such military metaphors is in order to just defend their belief. Sure the opposition may bring up something both agree on but most likely they already know that they will have to bring out defensive tactics to win their argument. No one likes to lose an argument, such as no one likes to lose a battle with anyone. Thus both are close minded and get no where with in the argument because they are to busy trying to defend and bring down the opposition.
It is in human nature to argue and be competitive, which is why we so frequently use military metaphors. People are always trying to win, as well as prove others wrong, which is why they use military metaphors to provoke conflict. Everything in American society seems to be a competition, individuals or groups are always trying to "out-do" each other, which leads to conflict always being present in society. Employing other kinds of metaphors would not help, because it would not change the American competitive spirit.
Why do people not like military metaphors? It creates a great analogy that our society holds sacred. It creates an atmosphere of intensity needed to bring out the best in each argument. For example, Edison and Tesla fought with every bit of their soul for cities to accept their own type of current (Edison for DC and Tesla for AC). Tesla won the argument because AC is the best type of current for long distance travel, despite the fact that Edison stabbed him (figuratively) in the back. This heated debate through the use of military metaphors ends with the best person winning the argument.
I Would have to agree with Tannen on this. Military metaphors are a very straight-forward way of getting one's point across. Spending too much time on being "nice" or "politically correct" just leads to delays and results in the actual issue being almost completely side-stepped. Military metaphors are effective in our society because we are a warring nation. Not to say that we love fighting, but it is a big part of our lives; we spend uncountable amounts of money every year to increase the fighting power and capabilities of our military.The way I see it, military metaphors cause action. Rather than trying to ease the burden with other metaphors (like nature or sports), these help illustrate a sense of urgency and are more likely to garner the proper reaction.
Military metaphors in conversation are not a problem, especially not in a serious debate. Each side is taking on tactics and strategies to "win", the only question is what that win is defined as. For most political debates, a win means to get the support of the people (voters). In everyday discussion, a win is to get those around you to understand and accept your view. In both situations, people use different strategies (or tactics) to "win" the discussion. The comparison is one that works, even if is hyperbolic in the course of everyday discussion, it means that we take argument, discussion, and conversation all very seriously, and thus are ever hoping to better our "fighting strength" with new ideas and tactics.
Military metaphors generally carry negative connotations. They force people to choose sides and, pardon the metaphor, attack the other side. In this type of “argument culture”, as Tannen calls it, results are limited because all sides spend far too much time defending their opinions rather than compromising with each other. We might more usefully employ teamwork metaphors. By emphasizing cooperation and understanding, all sides in a debate will feel free to express their opinions openly without fear of criticism or attack, and much more time can be spent achieving results.
Generally when military metaphors are used, a difinite sense of hostility is recognized. The military itself relates to power and aggression. I agree with Tannen, in which the use of these metaphors has the effectiveness needed to get the point across. The American culture is very competitive, so the use of military metaphors is not a problem.