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The Definitive Guide to Winning an Argument

Be Calm and Courteous

Even if you’re pretending. Listen to what they have to say and take it in. Don’t shake your head while they talk, cut them off mid-sentence, or look away like you don’t care about what they’re saying.

If you appear to be giving the other side’s position a thoughtful review, then the solution you propose will seem to be far more sensible. 

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

The Definitive Guide to Winning an Argument

The Definitive Guide to Winning an Argument

https://lifehacker.com/the-definitive-guide-to-winning-an-argument-1693076653

lifehacker.com

16

Key Ideas

Convince Them With Confidence

  • Speak confidently, be concise, and try not to repeat yourself. 
  • Give the appearance that you truly know what’s right from the beginning, even if you don’t have all of the facts. 
  • Facts that can support your stance is helpful, but being convincing matters more.

Avoid Common Argument Fallacies

Winning an argument often comes down to who can go the longest without contradicting themselves and keeping sound logic, not direct persuasion of the other party.

Anecdotal Fallacy

Using a single personal experience as the foundation of your argument or your big piece of evidence. 

For example, your phone may have broken right after you bought it, but you can’t use that to argue that those phones are not worth the purchase for others.

Confirmation Bias

Ignoring certain facts because of personally held beliefs. 

For example, you can’t cherry pick evidence that supports your claim and deny the evidence that doesn’t.

Correlation vs. Causation

Assuming something is caused by something else just because they happen to correlate. 

For example, the number of homeless people in an area might correlate to the crime rate for the same area, but crime doesn’t necessarily cause homelessness and homelessness doesn’t necessarily cause crime. 

Straw Man Fallacy

Making up a scenario to make the opponent look bad. You’re assuming and making incorrect correlations. 

For example, if they don’t like orange juice, they must think oranges are bad for people.

Omniscience

Using statements that imply “all” of something or “every” thing is a certain way. 

For example, saying something like “all dogs pee on fire hydrants.” This would require you to be omniscient to make such claims, which is not possible.

Fallacy argumentum ad hominem

Name-calling, attacking a person’s character and using someone’s beliefs or traits to call their argument into question.

For example, you can’t say that someone’s argument about dogs being better than cats is weak because they are also a Republican. It offers no real support to your argument for cats being better and it makes it look like you can’t think of anything better than poking at their personal beliefs.

Find the Best Evidence

When you have good evidence, it makes it a lot easier to counter other people’s points while supporting your own.

Prepare ahead of time. That way, when an argument comes up, you’re locked and loaded with answers to show your adversary that you know what’s what.

Emotional arguments

Recognize that there are two issues to be addressed: both of your emotions and the situation at hand.

  • Rein in the emotions first. Step away for a moment and let yourself cool down before you come back to the argument.
  • Try to keep your cool and show the other person respect.
  • Give them a chance to make mistakes and possibly realize they’re in the wrong.

Have Them Explain Their View First

The advantages are:

  • You immediately come across as agreeable and willing to listen. This can disarm them and make it easier for you to persuade them later on.
  • You get to listen to what they say and look for weaknesses in their argument.
  • See if they can even support their own argument.
  • You give them a chance to mess up their argument.

Ask Them the Right Questions

The right questions can help you break their argument down logically.

Word your argument in the form of open-ended questions that force them to address your points.

Stay on Topic

If they manage to throw you off with a really good point, try to stay on topic as best you can. 

Going off-topic can destroy your credibility, make you look defensive, and start new arguments. Stay focused on the current subject and keep your emotions out of it.

If you’re dead set on winning the argument, you can keep pushing to make them upset and their argument will likely fall apart in anger.

Look for Consensus to Back You Up

If enough people agree to something, it sort of becomes true in a social setting. It may not be 100% factual, but with a little supporting evidence, your buddies can be a better backup than any fact out there.

It is, however,  best to avoid the fallacies of bandwagoning and appealing to authority. If you don’t have any evidence to support your claim at all, you and your group of supporters are just bullying people into admitting they’re wrong.

Change What Winning Means to You

Winning can mean: 

  • resolving the conflict peacefully
  • getting them to admit they’re wrong about one thing and not the whole topic
  • intentionally giving in because you care about them.

EXPLORE MORE AROUND THESE TOPICS:

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Ask for their point of view

To gain trust and build rapport, you need to hear out what the other person thinks without interrupting or disagreeing.

Try asking open-ended questions, like: "Why do you think that...

Mirror your opponent

If you mimic your opponent (in a subtle way), they are more likely to believe you.

For example, if they are sitting cross-legged, wait a few seconds and cross your legs too. And make sure that what you are doing is not too obvious.

Make direct eye contact

...while you listen. This makes the speaker's arguments less persuasive, which makes your opinion look strong.

Fix the speaker in your sight as soon as they start speaking.

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Basic structure of an argument from incredulity

Premise 1: I can’t explain or imagine how proposition X can be true.

Premise 2: if a certain proposition is true, then I must be able to explain or imagine how that can be.

It’s ok to be incredulous

... and to bring this up as part of an argument. The issue with doing so occurs when this incredulity isn’t justified or supported by concrete information, and when this lack of belief is used in order to assume that a preferred personal explanation must be the right one, despite the lack of proof.

At the same time, it’s also important to remember that it’s possible that the person using the argument from incredulity is right, despite the fact that their reasoning is flawed.

Counter the argument from incredulity
  1. Explain why this sort of reasoning is fallacious: namely the fact that your opponent’s inability to explain a certain phenomenon or to understand a certain theory, does not invalidate current explanations for it.
  2. Shift the burden of proof back to your opponent: ask them to support their initial assertion, and explain why they are incredulous, and why they think that this validates their position.
  3. If possible, you should show that there is scientific evidence that can be used in order to explain the phenomenon that’s being discussed. 

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Know your facts
How many times have you made a claim about some piece of trivia only to realize, as soon as you’ve made that claim, that you’re completely wrong?

Stop and think before you make such errors, and y...

Switch perspectives
Stepping into the mindset of those you argue with allows you to figure out what’s influencing them. 

Showing empathy will lower the temperature of the debate and allow both of you to come to a resolution.

Try to appear open-minded

If you appear to be giving the other side’s position a thoughtful review, then the solution you propose will seem to be far more sensible. Furthermore, your opponent may come to your side without you having to do anything other than listening.

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