Humans 101

The Real Reason We Get Into Arguments

What I learned after a stupid meltdown

Don Johnson
Human Parts
Published in
6 min readFeb 2, 2021


Photo: Yuri_Arcurs/Getty Images

Before I share what I learned about why we get into arguments, I want to tell you a story. I’m not proud of my behavior; in fact, it’s downright embarrassing to let you know what I did. But it was a wake-up call that stirred things up for the better. Believe me, I don’t always have such a short fuse.

I was watching my 12-year-old son play in a tennis tournament. The kids were playing for rankings, which over the next few years would determine college tennis scholarship offers. You could say there was money on the table.

A cellphone went off near me. Phones were supposed to be on silent. I looked over and saw that the phone belonged to Alan, the father of one of the kids. He answered the phone and had a brief conversation. I shot him a dirty look.

It rang again. Now I was really annoyed. I said, “Hey, you know the rules. Turn your phone off.”

Alan retorted, “I need to take these calls.”

“Put it on silent then.”

“It’s no big deal. What do you think this is—Wimbledon or something?”

“It doesn’t matter. Turn your phone off.”

“But I’m a doctor.”

A doctor? Are you fucking kidding me? You just poured gas on the fire. You want to do battle? Let’s go.

“I don’t give a fuck who you are. It’s disturbing to the kids. Be respectful.”

“Nobody speaks to me that way.”

“Really? Well, too fucking bad.”

By this time, someone intervened and told us both to cool off. Alan puttered around behind me, talking to himself. I got up and walked outside for a few minutes and returned. No one said another word. My son finished his match, and we left.

A month later, I was at another tournament. I saw Alan’s wife, and she smiled and waved at me. I was surprised. She’s not upset? I walked over to say hello.

“Did Alan tell you about the incident at the last tournament?”

“No. Why?” she asked.



Don Johnson
Human Parts

Author | Meditation Teacher | Advocate for Kindness, Respect & Freedom | Human Potential Coach | Connect with me here: