Listen up! “Circular Arguments” – Show #5 Communication Quicksand

If you were raised within a chaotic home environment, you may feel that circular arguments are such a hallmark of your communications with others that it’s actually, er, normal. It doesn’t have to be that way.

How it feels to be having a circular argument:
* like you’re crazy
* groundhog day
* no resolution
* promise of hope, not much else
* like the same argument, again

In a circular argument, you begin with what you’re trying to end up with. Thus, the circle. A circular argument has logical components; however, together they do not add up! Why? Because their conclusion is one of their premises (and this invalidates the argument). There is no proof in a circular argument, just conclusions.

Circular Arguments look like this:

if A, then B
if B, then C
if C, then A

An example:

A = I want more frequent and substantial contact from partner
B = giving partner another chance
C = getting what I need from partner

If you want more frequent and substantial contact, then give me a chance to work on that;
If you give me a chance, then you’ll get what you’re asking for;
If you get what you want, then you’ll have more contact and this won’t be a problem anymore.

Pretty neat stuff, huh? You can see why politicians use circular constructions so often!

Getting out of Circular Arguments:
* Asking for, or providing, evidence of how you’re going to deliver on the solution (calling every day, telling a personal story, etc.)
* Providing details
* Specifics
* Asking for what will help resolve the issue (“what do you need from me in order to feel more connected/supported?”

For example:  ”What would more substantial contact be for you?” Or, “If I called you every day and invite you to a family dinner, would that help?”

This was a fun show and very eye-opening. I hope you enjoy listening to it! (Let us know.) The is Show #5 of our new series on empowering solutions for dealing with Communication Quicksand.

Listen to the show here:

*Visit Susan page: Empowering Solutions on Facebook. Some great conversations happen on her site.
*And I’m always here at Guess What Normal Is

Tweet this show:

Stuck in a circular argument?! QQ#5: with @GWNIbyAmyEden and @Susan_Ks at #blogtalkradio


  1. jackie C says:

    I loved this! I just had another one of these last night. It was so exhausting and ended with him hanging up on me. Im fresh out of a discovering that I am in fact an ACoA and trying to process it all, and he not having a clue who I am…sigh! Thank you!

    • Amy Eden says:

      He hung up?! There’s a perfect sign that the conversation was circular and not able to reshape itself.
      Not saying it’s polite. :-) And not saying it’s solution-oriented. It’s just an exit.
      If he hung up…does that mean you successfully stood your ground, attesting to your feelings and views? :-) (Sometimes when I frustrate someone I know it’s because I’m standing my ground, standing up for my truth and not because I’m being an ass. It’s a surprising type of proof!)
      There are times when the person on the other end of the conversation so can’t SEE that the conversation at hand has a circular shape, and it’s hard to show them it is (because that would mean flexibility on their part…not a “winner’s” strategy). In those cases they are probably looking to win — and win alone. (Literally.) (Alone.)

Leave a Reply