How to Defend Yourself Without Appearing Defensive - Deepstash

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Defending everyone's fallibility

Defending everyone's fallibility

When people don't trust you, you’re already at a big disadvantage and anything you say can be dismissed as mere defensive revenge.

The best you can do is to resist fighting for infallibility. Instead, defend everyone's fallibility. You will regain credibility if you posture as a learner, not someone last-word learned.

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The art of presenting ideas

Aristotle’s distinction between three aspects of rhetoric:

  • Your logos or logic: your reasons, the facts of the matter as you see them.
  • Your pathos or emotional appeals to listeners.
  • Your ethos, your identity or posture: what kind of person you portray yourself as being, so that listeners would want to adhere to the you see things.

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Exhibit some fallibilism

  • Make your doubter's case against you, so that they feel heard. Visit the possibility that you’re wrong.
  • Show that you get them by giving voice to their doubts.
  • Identify an error you’ve made or something you’ve learned from their feedback.
  • Admit to miscalculation.
  • Honor their right to decide for themselves whether to believe you.

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Have an exit strategy

Be careful during the debate, knowing you may have to withdraw in the end. If you take good care, you can withdraw with the consolation of thoroughness. Though you tried hard to restore common ground, you didn’t succeed.

If you have an exit strategy, a way to explain to yourself why you didn’t restore common ground, you won’t feel panicked and tempted to force them into restoring trust in you.

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