The 6 Steps To Winning Any Argument
Step 1: Define your position
Step 1: Define your position
Almost everyone I know struggles to argue their point.
They talk themselves into losing in one way or another.
Whether it be your wife, husband, partner, colleague, friend or fo – the skill to win a potentially heated debate is massively under-utilised.
Below are 6 steps to winning every argument, whether it applies to business or your relationships.
Step 1. Define your position
Before initiating an argument or disagreement you need to define your position.
In my view, you’re either correct or you’re silent.
The action to argue at all suggests that you’re comfortable with how strong you feel your position is.
Make sure it’s clear in your mind the reasons why you believe what you believe, the evidence that supports it and the correct retorts for any challenges against that position.
Knowing the difference between fact or fiction is knowing the difference between right and wrong.
Don’t argue over semantics, only certainties.
Step 2. Talk less
Whilst your opponent talks or initiates the argument against you, it’s essential to give them enough metaphorical rope to hang themselves.
As they talk or shout, your only interjections should be questions.
How did you arrive at that position?
Am I understanding you correctly?
Can you clarify that position for me?
Is it possible for you to elaborate on that point?
You’re letting them dig deep, to make it harder for them to get out of that hole when you present your points.
If your lack of talking is agitating your opponent this early on, it’s a clear indicator you’re eventually going to win.
Stay quiet and composed.
Step 3. Ask them to define their position
The bigger the canvas, the broader the strokes need to be.
By giving your opponent more room to explore their thoughts, you’re trapping them into assumptions, stereotypes and unsubstantiated claims.
As this happens, take note. You’ll want them to define certain words, ask for evidence and give their understanding of a particular situation.
Use questions like…
What do you think that means?
How do you define ‘x’?
What evidence do you have to substantiate that claim?
By this point, you’ve still not clarified where you stand.
Good. That’s part of your plan.
Step 4. Never get personal or raise your voice
The fastest way to lose to someone else is to lose to yourself first.
A lack of composure is a lack of confidence.
Subconsciously you’re showing that someone else is getting to you. This is not acceptable.
Emotion should be stripped bare and you need to have the respect for your opposition.
If they misunderstood, that’s a mistake. You can educate without decimating their character.
If they were misinformed or miseducated on the matter, it’s forgivable under the correct circumstances.
Don’t be petty. Don’t be loud.
People don’t aim to be wrong intentionally.
Step 5. The latch tactic
The reason you’re talking less is that you’re listening. Waiting to strike like a majestic lion.
The latch tactic is listening out for a mistake in someone’s argument and spinning your entire retort around that point.
Latch on to it and take it down — swiftly.
Perhaps they were shouting or called you a name. Use it.
When you have the opportunity to speak you should speak in questions.
Are you going to let me speak now? Okay, great.
Why are you shouting? I haven’t raised my voice to you at all.
Also, you called me an idiot just now, I haven’t called you any names, why do you think it’s okay to attack me? I’m trying to have a civil conversation here.
Give them the opportunity to respond and expect an apology.
If it doesn’t come, or it intensifies, you may be dealing with someone without the intellectual capacity to realise their own mistakes.
You need to abort.
What if they don’t attack you?
If they don’t attack or shout at you, this will be the time to give your position calmly.
Latch onto a mistake in their rhetoric and reference it in your comeback.
Give evidence, resources and anecdotes to support why you’re arguing the position you’ve chosen.
At this moment, they’ll probably agree with you.
Step 6. Be willing to fall on your sword
You’ve listened to the other person’s point of view and you don’t agree.
You’ve let them call you names or disparage your character to win points, but you didn’t fight back.
They’re still going.
Perhaps you’re dealing with a narcissist who is so caught up in themselves, that they can’t accept facts.
Perhaps you’re arguing over someone’s belief system or religious views. You won't win.
There’s a moment in longer arguments where you realise someone’s entire life has conditioned them to think a certain way and they’re not about to change for you now.
My dog Penelope will chase a tennis ball for hours. That’s not hyperbole. On a day off I could and have, spent 3 hours throwing it.
When we get home she will then chase that same ball around the house for 3 more hours. I’ve often wondered which day she’ll give up on the ball, but that day never comes.
Why am I telling you this?
Like a dog with a ball, some people won’t ever give in.
You need to pull the plug when arguing with these people.
The argument now turns from “I’m trying to convince them I’m right”, to “I need to stop wasting my time with this person. They’re not going to ever relent.”
You need to fall on your sword and walk away with your remaining brain cells, time and moral superiority.
The only downside is that your defeatism perpetuates their belief that they are correct.
In their mind, they won.
You need to wrap it up with:
“I’ve listened to you, been shouted at, attacked, understood your position and even sympathised with your thought-process.
I don’t think we’re getting there, or that you’re willing to understand where I’m coming from. So let’s leave it there and agree to disagree.
It’s not worth any more of our time, but I respect the time you’ve taken to discuss your views with me.
Let’s move on. Yes?”
Yes, phrased like a question is rhetorical.
If they persist past that point you need to leave the room.
If they do not, as least it was you with the fortitude to bring this thing to a close.
That, regardless of how you look at it, is a win for you.