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.

Cash in on the Universal Law of Human Behavior

blue-silk-tie-3pcs-349Let me start off by making a very bold statement. There is a law of human behavior that works every time. It never fails. There are no exceptions. It will work with rebellious teenagers, nagging wives, uncaring husbands, demeaning bosses, obstinate employees, or annoying neighbors. When you use this law you will get others to admire and respect you. You will get others to want to help you get what you want. You will convert your enemies into friends. You will get other people to do what you want them to do. Interested?

The Universal Law at work

Several years ago I had an experience that taught me this great lesson of human behavior. I had just finished a large software development project for an RV park and campground. It was a new reservation system and it required me to spend several days at the campground installing the software and training the employees how to use it.

One day as I was working behind the reservation desk a very large and expensive motorhome pulled up to the campground office. An older woman stepped out of the motorhome and came in to the office. She was an elegant and well-dressed woman. One look at her and you could tell she was a lady of class.

It wasn’t my job but since I was at the computer I offered to help her. As I pulled up her reservation information on the computer she stopped me for a moment and said, “Where did you get that lovely tie? It looks so good on you and matches your eyes.” She kept going on and on about my tie and insisted on knowing where I bought it. I was embarrassed to tell her I bought it at the local Kmart store. I thought she would laugh at me but no, she even wanted to know where the Kmart store was because she wanted to buy a tie just like it for her husband.

Now to you this may sound like some silly little incident that’s not even worth mentioning. It shouldn’t be worth mentioning except for the amazing effect it had on me that day. First of all, what kind of service do you suppose I gave that lady? Excellent service, that’s for sure! I made sure every little detail was taken care of for her. And for the entire rest of that day I simply felt wonderful and had a big smile on my face. Even now, over 15 years later, I can remember that incident like it was yesterday. And guess what, I still really like that lady!

Why does this law work?

So what happened there? What was it about that little incident that had such power over me? For Pete’s sake, a lady simply complimented me on my silly Kmart tie and my day was transformed! How could that be?

Whether she knew it or not, this woman used a proven law of human behavior. It is a law as universal as is Newton’s law of gravity. It is as much a part of man as his heart or his brain. It is this:

Every person in the world has a deep and burning desire, even an insatiable craving—to be liked, to be respected, to feel important.

The woman at the campground simply gave me what I craved the most and I became putty in her hands. I was ready to do whatever it took to satisfy her needs and make her happy.

Once you know the law, use it!

Now that you know what this law is, why don’t you do something with it? Why don’t you use this basic human drive in your daily relationships with other people? Once you know how to satisfy their longing for importance you will find your own influence with them rising greatly.

I believe in this statement by Les Giblin:

You want to make a good impression with the other fellow. But the most effective way ever discovered for impressing the other fellow is to let him know that you are impressed by him.

When you consider the remarkable consequences that can result from the littlest things, like a kind word, a pat on the shoulder, a smile, a tip of the hat, a simple complement, wouldn’t it be well to incorporate those things into your daily interactions with others?

You have the power within you

You have the power to give people what they crave: the feeling of importance, to be appreciated, to be noticed. Like the lady at the campground, it doesn’t cost you a dime to give it out. You don’t have to fear that you’ll use it all up. You have a never ending supply of it. Learn to use this great power and others will have a tremendous desire to help you get what you want. They will remember you for years with high regard because of how you made them feel. You have the power. Use it!

Judging Others – A Lesson in the Desert

The Biker

Several years ago I decided to make the long trip to southeastern Arizona to visit my father. We had a nice visit and when it was time for me to drive home I decided to take a different route home to see some of the country I hadn’t seen before.

The Breakdown

My trip across the desert was going fine until I made a stop and saw steam coming from the engine of my car. I added water to the radiator and tried to continue on but before long the engine began steaming and overheating again. I tried that remedy a few more times but realized I would never make it home at that rate. I limped into the next small town and talked to a mechanic. It turned out my water pump was going bad. Unfortunately they were closing in a half hour and told me they couldn’t help me.

I had tools with me so I thought I would try and replace the water pump myself. I bought one at the local auto parts store and then looked for a place I could work on my car. I found an abandoned rest-stopa mile or so outside of town and pulled into the empty parking lot and began to work on my car.

To my dismay, I couldn’t loosen the bolts on the water pump. I tried and tried but they just wouldn’t give. The sun was about to go down and I was getting very discouraged. I just wanted to get home and it didn’t look like I was going to make it.

The Stranger

As I was standing there, staring at my engine, I heard the sound of a motorcycle. I looked up and saw a man on a Harley Davidson heading in my direction across the empty parking lot. He was wearing a leather vest, leather pants, a bandanna on his head, earrings in his ears, various tattoos on his body, and chains hanging off his clothes.

I assessed the situation. Here I was all alone in the middle of nowhere and here was this man coming towards me that didn’t look like the kind of guy I wanted to meet up with. I remember thinking to myself, “I am going to die right here!” I was sure he must be carrying a gun and was going to rob me and then shoot me, execution style. My wife was going to be a widow. My kids where going to be fatherless. I even started imagining what my funeral was going to be like. I was scared!

He parked his Harley nearby and walked over towards me. I was bracing for the worst.

He asked me, “What seems to be the problem?”

The Near-Death Experience

“Oh,” I thought, “he’s just softening me up before robbing and killing me.” I told him my situation and instead of killing me, he helped me. I was shocked! He told me to loosen the radiator cap just enough to let the pressure off the cooling system and I should be able to make it home fine. And guess what, that’s exactly what I did and it worked just as he said. I made it home without further problems.

I remember as I was driving home how bad I felt that I had misjudged this man. He was really a very nice guy – just a bit different than me in his choice of clothing and jewelry. It taught me a great lesson to not be so quick in judging others just because they may be different than me in some way. It taught me that I need to be more accepting of people for who they are.

The Challenge

My challenge to you is to be more aware of how you are treating others. Do you treat all people with equal respect and kindness or are there some groups that you tend to treat differently than others? Ask yourself why that is and resolve to change. Work more on being inclusive, not exclusive. Look past the differences and see the common good in all.

How to Use Emotional Connections to Influence Others

PersonalityWe Are Emotional Beings

You need to understand one basic trait of human beings and it is this:

Humans are not logical creatures.

People don’t usually base their actions and decisions on logic. We humans are more influenced by emotion than reason or good judgment. Our emotions are what drive us. We are emotional beings much more so than logical beings.

Being emotional beings, we want our emotions fed. It is amazing what people will do to satisfy their emotional needs with little regard to logic. When you see people doing things that looks incredibly stupid, they are generally doing it to fill an emotional need. When you watch the evening news or pick up the newspaper you will come across story after story of people doing what appear to be strange and illogical things such as bank robberies, car chases, drug use, embezzlement and every other kind of crazy thing. All of these people are doing these things to fulfill unmet emotional needs.

How Can This Help?

How does knowing this help you? Let’s think about it. If you are trying to influence someone and the only tool you are using is logic, in nearly every case you will fail. However, when you have an emotional connection with that person, even the weakest of logical arguments can succeed. If you can connect with someone emotionally then your power to influence them is vastly improved.

Making Emotional Connections

So how do you make emotional connections with people? There are a number of ways. Let’s talk about one powerful one. The more you know about someone, the more you will be able to connect with them emotionally and therefore you are able to influence them.

By taking the time to learn about another person you gain two things. First it helps you understand that person; where they are coming from and what makes them tick. Secondly, it lets them know that you care about them and are interested in them.

For example, imagine a person you only casually know who comes up to you and calls you by name and asks about the details of your life that aren’t generally known. You can’t help but be impressed and flattered. When they ask you about your job or your family or your hobbies and interests, it’s obvious they have taken an interest in you. You look at that person in a different light. You feel a connection with that person.

My Challenge to You

This is my challenge to you. Think about the people you must deal with and those you need to influence. This could be your boss at work, your spouse, your children, your neighbor or your banker. What I want you to do is play the role of private investigator and begin to learn all you can about that person – details that the average person wouldn’t know. Write them down. Create a file on them if you have to. Do they play tennis? Do they have children? What are their names? What does this person do in his or her leisure time? Where did they attend high school or college?

Then the next time you are with them you can use this information to build that emotional connection. Ask about their children by name. “How is Jennifer enjoying being a cheerleader?” or “How is Jonny doing with Little League baseball?” You will be amazed how they will light up when you talk about their interests.

What it does is build up an emotional connection between you and them. Then when it comes time that you need their assistance or you need to influence them in some way, you will have a much easier time of it.

We All Have the Need

We all have an incredible need to be validated emotionally. We want to fit in, to belong, to be liked. When someone fills those needs we are much more willing to accept their ideas. We are more willing to trust them and want to please them, and yes, even be influenced by them.

How to Make Opposition Work for You

Opposition

Have you ever tried to persuade someone to your way of thinking only to be confronted by heavy opposition? Although it may sound illogical, opposition can actually be a good thing when trying to influence and persuade others.

Opposition can be good

Every time we are engaged in an attempt to influence someone we need to evaluate whether that person is receptive to our efforts or not. Normally when we encounter opposition we tend to feel our efforts are failing. Strange as it may seem, that’s not necessarily the case.

Opposition means you still have a chance

Let’s suppose you are in a meeting and you are presenting an idea and someone in the meeting begins to challenge it. They throw up opposition by arguing why it can’t be done or why it shouldn’t be done or why your idea isn’t a good idea. Your first thought is to think that the person will be impossible to persuade to your way of thinking. Actuallythe opposite is true. It’s the person who agrees immediately with your ideas and wants to move on that usually is not going to take any action in that direction. The person who is actually giving you opposition and is actively engaged in a discussion about it is much more likely to be persuaded.

If the other person agrees too easily 

Let me give you an example. Let’s suppose you know someone who is in very poor health and you tell them, “You know, you really ought to go see a doctor and get a checkup.” That person can handle that suggestion is two ways.

The first way is to agree with you immediately and say, “Yes, you’re right. I should go see a doctor and get a checkup.” They don’t argue with you at all. They immediately agree with you but inside they know that they have no intention whatsoever of going and seeing a doctor. They want to agree with you immediately so they can move on. They want to get past the subject. They don’t want to discuss it. They know on one level that you’re right, but on another emotional level they have many internal reasons they don’t want to see a doctor. It could be that they are afraid of what the doctor may find out. It could be that they can’t afford it. It’s going to cost them money and they don’t want to spend it. It could be that they already know what the doctor is going to tell them. The doctor is going to tell them they need to cut out certain foods and they need to exercise and they are not ready to deal with that right now.

So they will agree with you immediately so they can get off the subject and move on. You haven’t persuaded them at all but they want you to think that you have. So when someone agrees with you immediately it’s a sign that they are closed to discussion.

If the other person disagrees 

The second way they can respond is to disagree with you. If they argue with you about it, then the channels of persuasion are still open. They will say things like, “You know, I don’t really want to go to the doctor. It’s too much of a hassle and I don’t trust doctors.” If they oppose you, if there is opposition there, then the conduit of persuasion is still open.

You may think just the opposite is true when they agree with you. You think you have persuaded them but when they oppose you and argue with you, you think that you haven’t persuaded them. Opposition doesn’t mean that you have persuaded them but it does mean that the lines of communication and the channels of persuasion and influence are still open and that you still have that opportunity. They still haven’t made up their mind internally. There’s an internal conflict. So they may be arguing with you on the outside but internally they are arguing with themselves about whether they should or they shouldn’t pursue the particular course you are suggesting.

Pay attention to the responses you get

The next time you are in a situation where you need to persuade others to your way of thinking, pay attention to their response. If there is opposition then you still have a good chance to change their minds.

6 Secrets to Creating a Powerful First Impression

First Impressions

Whether you like it or not you are judged by the first impression you make on others. From the moment you first meet someone you have about sixty seconds to make a good impression. This article will show you six secrets to creating a powerful first impression.

Regardless of whether it’s fair or whether it’s correct, it’s a true fact that the first impression is how we judge each other. There is an old saying that goes, “You only get one chance to make a good first impression.” After that you’re done. Your chance is over. If you make a bad first impression then you are constantly working on damage control. You will always be remembered for that first impression, good or bad. Therefore it’s extremely important that you learn how to make a powerful and positive first impression.

Think for a moment about the different people you have met in your life. Wasn’t it something about your first meeting with them that drew you to them? Isn’t it true that those people who have made the most powerful impact on your life are the ones that presented a powerful and positive first impression? What was it about that meeting that had such an impact on you? If you think about it you will realize that there are certain things these people did that impressed you. They knew the secrets of making a powerful first impression. No you will know the secrets too.

Secret Number 1: Take the Lead

What this means is to be outgoing. Don’t wait for the other person to step forward and greet you. You take the initiative. You be the one to step forward, shake hands, greet the other person and initiate the conversation. By doing this you are taking control of the situation and you are establishing a first impression as a leader; a person who is not fearful, timid or shy. You can’t help but be impressed when someone comes up to you, shakes your hand, introduces himself and initiates a conversation. Your goal is to be that person.

Secret Number 2: Smile

Okay, this is going to seem obvious yet it’s amazing how many people don’t do this. It is to SMILE!

Think about when another person greets you. Think about the difference in how you feel about the other person when they greet you with a cheerful smile or when they greet you coolly with a scowl on their face. What a difference between the two types of greetings.

It’s just common sense that we like to be greeted with a smile. It makes us feel more comfortable. It makes us like the other person more. We feel non-threatened. We feel accepted. We feel like it’s a safe place to be when the other person is smiling and in a good mood. We trust someone more when they are cheerful. A side benefit is that we just simply look better with a smile on our face than without one. So smile when you greet others.

Secret Number 3: Exchange Names

Whole books have been written on this subject. Countless articles have covered this subject. We all should know by now that the sweetest sound in the human language is a person’s own name. Secret number 3 is about exchanging names.

You need to get the other person’s name if you don’t have it. If you already have their name then you need to use it. Knowing their name and using their name is an excellent way to make a good first impression. You don’t always have the chance of knowing the names of who you will be meeting. If you already know their name, then use their name in greeting them. If you don’t know their name this is where you get their name.

To get their name, you can say “Hi, I’m James Walker. I don’t believe I’ve met you before.” They will generally give their name at this point. The other person says, “Hi, I’m Natasha Stevenson.” You say, “Natasha Stevenson, that’s an interesting name. Where did it come from?” By repeating it back you do two things. First it helps you remember their name and they like to hear their name. It also helps you to know that you heard it correctly and are pronouncing it correctly. One of the biggest social blunders is to mispronounce someone’s name.

If you are being introduced to a group of people, then one by one go up to each person and smile, shake their hand, give your name and then get their name. Repeat their name back to them. Do this greeting for each one, making a mental note of each name. There are many techniques for remembering names but that’s beyond the scope of this article. The point is to use one of the common name-remembering techniques to remember their names.

Secret Number 4: Dress the Part

Dress for success – we’ve all heard that term. Some people say, “People shouldn’t judge me by how I look. They should judge me for who I am.” That’s nice to say but that’s not reality. People do judge you by how you look. We do judge books by their cover. We wouldn’t even look in a book, let alone buy one, if we weren’t impressed with the cover. So, just like a book, you have to sell yourself on the outside.

It doesn’t take a lot of money to dress nice in my opinion. Maybe some people can tell the difference between a $90 shirt and a $20 shirt. A nice dress shirt that is pressed and in good condition or a nice dress that fits well and looks good on you will make a big difference. It’s really not so much the price of the clothes but the choice of the style and the fit and that it complements you. The way you dress has an impact on other people. If your shoes are scuffed and dirty, people notice those things about you. It tells them a little bit about who you are, your personality, your character. If you look nice, that makes a difference.

Some people can overdo it. They can be very overdressed with their Rolex watches and Armani suites and it’s obvious that that person may have a self-image problem and is trying to over-compensate or over-impress and in most cases it accomplishes exactly the opposite effect. Think about it. When was the last time a Rolex watch really impressed you? These days, for all you know, it was bought in Mexico for $15.00.

I think, within reason, you dress the part. In most situations there are different levels of dress. Obviously there is everything from a jogging outfit consisting of sweats and a t-shirt all the way up to formal wear. You have to judge what is the appropriate dress for the situation, whether it’s formal, nice business casual, casual or whatever.

It has always been my feeling that you should dress slightly one notch above how you think everyone else will dress. The idea is not that you will look ridiculously out of place but that you will simply stand out slightly. It’s much better to be one notch above than one notch below how other people are dressing. It can be very embarrassing to be in a situation where you are obviously underdressed. If everyone else is in a suit and you are in an open-collared shirt, you will feel very out of place and others will notice it too.

Secret Number 5: Show Interest

Secret number 5 is to show interest in the other person. People can’t help but be impressed with someone who is interested in them. It’s human nature. It’s irresistible. We all have an innate, natural, desire built into us to want to feel important. It’s part of being human. When someone shows interest in us it elevates our impression of them. Just like stroking a cat, she’ll hang around for more.

The way you do it is simple. Just notice things about them. If their name is of an obvious ethnic decent or they have an accent or there is something about them that is interesting to you, ask them about it. Be inquisitive.

Yesterday I had a business lunch with three people. Two of them I had never met before. One of them was a woman. She epitomized a lot of what I am saying here. She was very outgoing and friendly. She dressed very nice but wasn’t overdressed for the situation. I noticed she had an accent. It was very intriguing. I couldn’t quite place where the accent was from. So I asked her where she was from. She said, “You mean where I live now or originally?” I said, “Originally. I noticed you have an accent.” She told me she was from Moscow, Russia. So that brought up a conversation where she told me a lot about Moscow and what it was like. She went on to tell me about St. Petersburg and many other things about Russia. All this came from just one little observation and me showing interest in her.

Secret Number 6: Establish Your Credentials

This is the tricky one. Nobody likes “a brag.” We are all turned off by someone who boasts and talks about themselves incessantly. However, there is a point in a conversation where you need to establish who you are and what your credentials are. When I say “credentials” I mean what you do and what your title is. The other person does need to know who they are dealing with. This is something that should be done quickly and without a lot of glorification or fanfare. It should be done in an unpretentious and modest way.

For example, you might say, “Hello, I’m Mark Jones. I’m the IT Manager of XYZ Corporation. It’s my job to see that all the computer systems are running smoothly and efficiently.” A quick establishment of your credentials.

Maybe your credentials aren’t too impressive. “I’m Fred Smith. I’m a sanitation engineer for Waste Management. My job is to collect the excess refuge from each dwelling in the Smithville region.” You’re a garbage collector! You don’t have to glorify what you do. Yes, you want to present who you are in the best light possible but not with an absurdly overblown or embellished description.

Perhaps you don’t have any credentials. Maybe you’re just starting out. You wouldn’t say, “I’m currently unemployed. Nobody wants to hire me because I’m a loser.” You probably don’t want to say that. You should approach it in a better way such as, “I’m currently working on a business opportunity to teach and train individuals in the area of positive persuasion. That’s my specialty, my expertise. That’s what gets me up in the morning. I’m very passionate about this and that’s who I am.”

So find some way of presenting your credentials of who you are and what you do.

Become the Master of Powerful First Impressions

By following these 6 simple secrets you will be able to master and create powerful first impressions. You will see that people respond to powerful first impressions by giving you the respect and attention due any effective leader. You will be able to step out in a bold, confident manner and begin to positively influence and persuade others to your way of thinking.

Remember, if you blow your first impression it may be your last. So take charge of that first sixty seconds and leave a great first impression.