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  • Writer's pictureRossana Snee

How to Win an Argument!

Arguments are inevitable. They usually start over the most trivial things. But what if I told you you could actually win those arguments.

In this article, I'm going to provide you with some tools to help you come out the victor.

Let's look at some of the most important things you can do. By the way, don't let its simplicity throw you off. It's usually the most simple things you can do that give you the upper hand.

Here we go...

Do these!

Stay calm. If you allow your emotions to get the best of you, you're on your way to losing the argument. No matter how passionate you feel about your point of view, stay cool and in control of your emotions. If you lose your temper – you lose. It's a good idea to pause before you say anything. If you react instead of respond, say goodbye to any decent conversation.

Present facts for your position. Facts are hard to refute. If you know beforehand that you'll be engaging in a tête-à-tête, try and gather some pertinent data before the discussion starts. You can refer to surveys, studies, statistics, even quotes from relevant people. All those can be profoundly useful to deploy support of your case.

Ask questions. Ask questions that challenge his point, ‘What evidence do you have for that claim?’ Asking the right questions can help you stay in control of the discussion and make your opponent scramble for answers.

You can also try asking hypothetical questions that infer a trend and give your opponent a difficulty, ‘What would happen if every nation did that? Another useful type of question is one that calmly provokes your foe, ‘What is it about this that makes you so angry?

Listen carefully. Often people are so focused on what they are going to say next that they ignore their opponent and assume his arguments. It is by far better to listen carefully. You will likely observe some weaknesses and flaws in his position and sometimes you will hear something new and informative! You can then use that to respond to his argument.

Be prepared to concede a good point. Don’t be one of those people who argue every point for the sake of it. If your rival makes a valid point then agree, but outweigh it with a different argument. This makes you look reasonable. ‘I agree with you that some police officers behave in terrible ways. But not all of them are bad; there are police officers who are out there to protect our communities."

Study your opponent. Know their strengths, weaknesses, beliefs and values. You can appeal to their higher values. You can exploit their weaknesses by turning their arguments back on them. For example, "Are you saying that all Chinese people are responsible for the Coronavirus? Even babies, their mothers, and just regular families doing their best?"

Look for a win-win. Be open-minded to a compromise position that accommodates your main points and some of your opponent’s. You cannot both win in a boxing match but you can both win in a negotiation.

Don't do these!

Don't Get personal. Don't launch direct attacks on your opponent’s lifestyle, integrity or honesty. Those should be avoided, if at all possible, since they don't do anything to aid you; it will just make things worse. Attack the issue not the person. If the other party attacks you, then you can be bigger than them by saying, "I am surprised you're making personal attacks like that. It would be better if we stuck to the main issue here rather than smearing people."

Don't Get distracted. Your opponent may try to throw you off the scent by introducing new and extraneous themes. Stay firm and grounded. Don't lose sight of what you're actually talking about. You can say something like, ‘That is an entirely different topic which I am glad to discuss at another time. For the moment, however, let’s deal with the major issue at hand."

Don't Water down your strong arguments with weak ones. If you have three strong points and two weaker ones, then it is probably best to just focus on the strong ones. Make your points convincingly and ask for agreement. If you carry on and use the weaker arguments then your rival can rebut them and make your overall case look weaker.

Here are some crafty ways to further help you to winning an argument!

Use Zestful One-Liners!

  • That begs the question.

  • That's beside the point.

  • You’re getting defensive.

  • That's comparing apples and oranges.

If your opponent doesn't let up, try saying, “You know, I’ve never really thought of it that way. Can you explain it to me a little more?”

This can be very effective because:

1. You can’t argue with someone who doesn’t argue back.

The moment you ask someone to clarify, and then let them talk, you are actually taking away their ability to argue with you. If their argument is weak, they won't be able to really respond in detail. The wind will be let out of their sails.

2. Our need for attention!

One of the biggest reasons arguments get so out of hand is because each person is trying to be heard OVER the other person. People start talking at each other instead of with each other. When your opponent starts to feel like they're being heard, they will calm down. If you stay calm, they will no longer feel like they have to yell to get their point across.

3. You will look strong and in control.

Weak and scared people always seek to defend themselves, while strong, confident people seek feedback and criticism in order to improve. Whether it’s just the two of you, or a group of people watching, you will look cool and collected.

This method will only work if you listen respectfully. Don't interrupt them while they're talking. Wait until your opponent feels obliged to ask you for a response before saying anything. Furthermore, don’t pout or become agitated with the speaker. If they are being honest with you, be grateful they're addressing you instead of talking behind your back.

Next time an argument ensues, give these techniques a try. Let me know how they work out!

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