"The tendency in our culture to use war metaphors so pervasively, and to frame everything as a metaphorical battle, influences how we approach each other in our everyday lives. We end up thinking problems are insoluble, because we have allowed the polarized extremes to frame the debate," says Deborah Tannen in this discussion with Michael Toms about her book The Argument Culture: Moving from Debate to Dialogue.

The adversarial approach and combative rhetoric that characterizes contemporary media and politics are not good for the human spirit or for the future of democracy. According to Tannen, we should pay more attention to Asian traditions that have found oral disputation unbecoming to sagacious people. Alternatives to the polarization of the argument culture are slowly appearing. Tannen salutes the new respect being given to mediation in the field of law and the growing number of journalists who are questioning the ethics of attack.