The Art of Winning an Argument

Argument

Every day we deal with situations where conflicts arise. People disagree with you. You get into an argument and it seems that the other person won’t listen to you. It could be a customer, your spouse, your child, your friend, your neighbor or your boss. A customer demands a full refund after the warranty has expired. Your husband wants to buy a new car when you don’t have the money. You feel you deserve a raise but your boss won’t listen. If only you could get the other person to see things your way!

Well you can! This article will give you a sure-fire technique that will help you win arguments and leave both sides smiling.

The main goal is to get the other person to see things your way

What does winning an argument really mean? Isn’t it essentially getting the other person to see things your way? You want them to agree with you, to change their thinking, to change their mind. If you have accomplished this then you have won the argument. The problem is we usually go about it wrong because we follow our natural tendencies to persuade. 

Why following our “Natural Tendencies” leads to failure

When we find ourselves in conflicting situations our natural tendency is to argue. It’s human nature to do so. It’s almost an irresistible urge. We want to conquer and beat our opponent down. This is natural for us and it’s WRONG! It’s wrong for one good reason: It doesn’t work!

High pressure causes a natural reaction to push back. No one likes to be told they are wrong. No one likes to be forced to do or think anything. No one likes threats. Our natural reaction is to fight back, to push back, to argue back.

“A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”

This is why criticism, scare tactics and threats don’t work. Tell someone their idea is stupid and they will defend it all the more. Criticize someone’s position and they will fight back to save face. One of the strongest urges in human nature is self-survival and that includes survival of the ego too.

How winning at golf and winning arguments are related

Years ago when I played my very first game of golf things didn’t go very well. I grabbed a driver and stepped up to the first tee. I swung at the ball with all my might. I watched it slice right into the nearby pond. Splash!

The swing felt very natural to me but the ball didn’t go where I wanted it to go. This happened again on my next few attempts. I was an utter failure.

Then one of my golf buddies proceeded to show me how to hold the club, where to put my feet, how to position my shoulders, when to breath, and so on. It all felt very unnatural to me!  But guess what happened on my next swing – I connected with the ball and it went relatively straight and much further than before.

Golf is hard because it’s not natural. It goes against every natural tendency. To be successful at golf you have to learn a very scientific but unnatural swing. The same goes with winning arguments. You have to learn very scientific but unnatural techniques. 

The scientific technique that works

The scientific method to win an argument is just the opposite of what we naturally do.

Low pressure is the secret

Have you ever noticed that when someone tells you, “You can’t do that,” you have an uncontrollable urge to do it anyway? Have you ever noticed when someone tells you “You have to do so and so,” that your automatic reaction is, “Oh no I don’t!”

Scientific research has verified it over and over. Study after study has revealed that efforts to sway thinking or change behavior using high pressure, threats or force simply don’t work. Yet those people who were presented with unemotional facts, without any pressure, were much more likely to change their behavior or thinking.

We learn from the Bible:

“A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.”
— Proverbs 15:1

We must work with human nature

It all boils down to this: you must learn to work with human nature, not against it. To do so, follow these guidelines:

1. Approach in a friendly manner. Instead of coming on with an attitude or temper, use a soft voice and a relaxed state of mind. Smile and let the other person know you are their friend.

2. Listen to their point of view. Whether the other person’s side of the issue has any merit or not, allow them to express it and then LISTEN! People have a need to be heard. When you allow the other person a chance to speak it relieves a great deal of pressure off the situation.

3. Empathize with their ideas. Show genuine concern for their position. Help them feel that you understand them and care about their situation. People are more willing to see your point of view when they feel their point of view has been understood. This gives you a chance to present your own ideas in the context of having understood the pros and cons of theirs. 

Take the pressure off

To maintain an open channel of communication with another person we need to take the pressure off. Be friendly, listen to them, empathize with them. This doesn’t mean you agree with them, necessarily, but rather that you are open and willing to accept their point of view. Showing you understand them will take the wind out of their confrontational sails. Arguments aren’t possible when you pay close attention to the other person’s interests because it leaves only one place to go: understanding what you want.

Try it and see. You may be surprised to learn that your most powerful tool in winning an argument is to not have one at all – and this is done by taking the pressure off.

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