Tuesday, January 1, 2013

3 Tips for Winning Any Argument

So far as I know, there’s no possible way to get through life without ever having an argument at some point. Between high school debate clubs, schoolyard disagreements, and long-term relationships, they are impossible to avoid. Even Gandhi had to argue with someone at some point. Fight Clubs notwithstanding, nobody gets into an argument just with the intention of losing.
Now, when two people are able to have an open, honest, and respectful debate, and are willing to put themselves in each other’s shoes, any argument is at least fair. But come on—how many times has that happened to you? If you need to turn the tide of a heated debate, try using the following tactics. They might not be the nicest things to do, but damnit, you’re playing to win.
1) Be Prepared
The more you know going into the argument, the better prepared you’ll be to counter points, refute claims, and make your case. Try acting out the argument in your head, playing both roles. What is the other person likely to say? Once you know the general shape of the fight, you can steer the ship a lot better. How many times have you waned away from a fight, and suddenly the BEST thing to say pops into your head—five minutes too late? Figuring out the likely topics beforehand gives you time to come up with that awesome zinger.
2) Don’t Lose Your Temper
Have you ever heard the expression “cooler heads prevail?” Well, when you let your emotions get the best of you, mistakes are made. You aren’t thinking clearly, and it’s easy to lose sight of your objectives. Bonus points if you can get the other person angry instead, especially if you’re arguing in front of other people. If you can get them to blow up and look irrational, you’re halfway to winning. And if they get angry but you remain calm, chances are it will piss them off even further.
3) Swiss Cheese
If your opponent makes a salient point, try to refute the claim or otherwise poke a hole in it. Even if your jab doesn’t completely negate the point that’s made, pointing out a smaller mistake can poke a hole in their argument, and let a little air out of the situation.
For example: If they say: “Last night I was at the pub and I saw on the news that more people have criminal records than ever before.” You counter with: “Well, of course you saw it in the bar. You’re always in the bar.” You have tacitly conceded their point, while simultaneously inferring that they’re an alcoholic. Arguments are unavoidable, but with a little verbal judo you can make sure you’re on the winning side.

Kristen Bright is a blogger for Instant Checkmate. If you need ammunition for your next fight, run a background check on them to find out all the dirt they've been hiding.