It’s frustrating to get into an argument and argue the way you would like. That’s goes double when you feel like you have the better argument or you know you’re right, but the person on the other side of the debate simply has better debating skills. So below, I’ve provided a how-to guide for those readers who want to know how to win an argument.
Learn To Listen
One of the most important steps in learning how to win an argument is to listen to the other side in an argument. For starters, you want to allow your opponent the opportunity to express their views. By doing this, you are showing them that you are not disregarding their side of the argument. Also, it is more likely that they will listen to you if you do the same to them.
Another point about listening to your opponent is it gives you the chance to focus on what they are saying and to ask specific questions about some of their points. How many times have, hours later, you analyzed your argument and thought that the person you were arguing with had a terrible point. If you listen to your debate opponent, you might find holes in their argument during the debate. If you can turn your opponent’s argument against him or her, you’re several steps closer to winning the argument. Put them on the defensive.
If they are not prepared for you to challenge their words, your questions may give them pause and get them to reassess their argument. By listening, you might be able to pick apart their side of the argument.
Choose A Point And Research It
Prepare Reasons To Support Your Point
Make a mental list of points that support your argument. Set them up as defenses that you can fall back on. You can even go further by trying to imagine some possible arguments that the other side will come up with. Think about questions that you might be asked and create a rebuttal for each one just in case you need them.
Don’t Overstate Your Points
The quickest way to lose an argument is to overstate your argument. If you have a normally solid point, but you exaggerate that point to add emphasis or try to bury your opponent, you might get called on it. When your statements are exposed as false or even partially false, you lose the argument. You go on the defensive immediately and have to defend your misstatements instead of the subject of the argument. So be accurate when you make your argument. Otherwise, you’re leaving your opponent a weakness that can be exploited.
Deal With One Argument At A Time
Winning an argument requires focus. The best way to deal with this is to deal with one argument or point of an argument at a time. By trying to mentally keep up with too many arguments, you can lose your concentration. Also, by having too many unresolved issues, it will be hard for you and your opponent to reach any common ground or even proceed further. Try to solve one argument before going on to the next.
Focus on the most important point you need to make. If you have a particularly strong point of the argument and your opponent has a weakness in his or her argument, focus the debate on that one particular point. Don’t rail on it so much that you sound like a broken record, but make certain you exploit your opponent’s weakness in the debate.
Its Not Always About Being Right
Winning an argument is not necessarily about being right. In fact, lawyers every day argue for one side or another even if they are wrong. Winning an argument is just about winning, not being right. Because even if you win, you could still be wrong. So before you make an argument, be sure that you understand this and can accept it. If you win an argument and find out later that you are wrong, it’s best not to bring up the conversation again. Still, you should be proud that you used debating tactics to win an argument you should have lost.
Winning an argument can be time consuming, especially if your opponent proves to be very resistant to your ideas. Some arguments can last for months. A good trait to have for winning arguments is patience and lots of it. You need patience so that you can be able to make rational arguments and not lose your temper. You need patience because explaining your side of an argument takes time. And you need patience if your opponent’s view happens to really annoy you. Plus, no one is going to readily admit they are wrong. It takes time to bring someone around to your point of view.
By asking questions, you can pick at an opponent’s argument. Even if they are right, asking questions can cause your opponent to stumble and lose their concentration. By asking question after question, you can cause your opponent to get flustered and lose their cool. Eventually their answers may even stop supporting their point of view. DO not ask questions that might have more than one answer, though. This gives your opponent too many options. By asking questions that have only one answer, they are more likely to answer wrong.
Attacking an opponent by asking them questions about their stance is sometimes called the Socratic Method. That’s because Socrates used this method to tear apart the arguments of his debating opponents nearly 2,500 years ago, or at least that’s the way Plato recorded it. So asking your argument opponent incisive questions has worked for at least 25 centuries.
Keep Your Cool
Never, ever lose your composure when arguing with someone. Once the temper rises and you lose control of it, you have lost the argument. Losing your cool can also cause the other side to lose their temper as well and then you are back to square one. Always stay in control, even if you are passionate about your side of the argument. Emotions can aid an argument but not if they run too high. If you lose it, your opponent will take that as a sign of weakness and believe that they have you on the ropes.
Use Calm and Reasonable Arguments
Don’t raise your voice out of anger. Only raise your voice to make a point. Do it sparingly and do it deliberately. That is, treat the argument like a performance, and only raise your voice or show emotion to add emphasis, or distract your opponent.
In other words, raising your voice or showing emotion is more of a desperation tactic. It can be effective, but only in rare cases. They say that a lawyer who has the law on his side argues the law; the lawyer who has the facts on his side argues the fact; the lawyer without the law or the facts on his side pounds the table. The lesson to be learned is, when trying to win an argument, argue the facts. Only pound the table or raise your voice if you know you can’t win by arguing the facts.
Know The Cost Of Winning
Winning an argument can make you feel really good. It can make you feel vindicated and that your position was the correct one. But you should know the cost of winning an argument. Sometimes the cost can be very high. Winning an argument can cause a lot of hurt feelings and can strain the ties of friendship. Depending on how you conduct an argument, you can lose the respect of your peers. More than one relationship has ended because someone won an argument at any cost. So be careful and decide, before you pursue an argument, if it is truly worth it.
Once an argument is over, try to find common ground with your opponent. Realize that there’s a point when arguing is counter-productive. Don’t cross the line and don’t burn bridges. Most of the time, arguments are as much about winning as it is about changing minds. Winning an argument is an ego thing, and losing an argument is definitely an ego thing. This is another reason that you need to keep your cool when arguing, because that way you won’t cross the line into personal attacks.
How to Win an Argument – Final Comments
In a perfect world, people would never argue. There would be no debates over politics, religion or social issues. Everyone would just get along. But it isn’t a perfect world and sometimes you have to argue to prove a point. So follow the steps above and you’ll have a lot better chance of winning your next argument.
Remember, we’re not talking about shouting and screaming loud enough to wake the neighbors. We are talking about using tactics and strategy to win a verbal contest. It is the same tactics that lawyers and politicians use to sway public opinion. Winning an argument can be a real challenge. If not handled correctly can lead to hot tempers and hurt feelings. If you don’t watch out, you’ll end up reading articles about “how to win a fight”. I suggest you stick with winning arguments.