Arguments happen. Whether it be with clients, your spouse, or heated coworkers in a meeting, all of us are exposed to conflicts in our day to day lives. Contrary to what instinct tells you, raising your voice and flaring your temper are not the answers to winning an argument. A successful debater knows how to collect information in a calm manner and use it to their advantage. Taken from Arthur Schopenhauer’s book entitled The Art of Being Right, here are a few tips on how to spin any debate in your favor.
Present Your Opinion as a Matter of Fact
State your argument as something that seems obvious and doesn’t need to be proven. For instance, people often say “People are so sensitive nowadays” or “Things were simpler back in my day”. These statements are presented as common knowledge, but have no actual proof behind them. You essentially want to make a claim that no one feels they can argue against because it already sounds true. If you can accomplish this, you’ve already done most of the work.
Spin Your Opponent’s Argument Your Way
Use your words to frame your opponent’s position in a way they will have to prove it’s not true. In political debates, politicians often refer to their opponent’s stances as communist or socialist because they know those labels have negative connotations. If you need to cut finances, but your coworker speaks against it, you might say he doesn’t have the company’s best interest at heart. They will likely lose focus on the argument and try to get out of the box you have placed them in.
Persuade Everyone Else
If you are in a meeting and someone strongly disagrees with what you have to say, forget about convincing the individual. Instead, focus on getting everyone else around you to see your side. When the group has a certain opinion, the person who is arguing against it will start to feel at fault for not siding with the majority. They may not agree with your point, but if you have successfully managed to captivate the audience, your opponent will feel defeated and most likely concede.
Offer Extreme Scenarios
This is the equivalent of your mom asking you if your friend jumped off a building, would you do it too. Take what your opponent is saying and multiply it to the highest degree. If someone says that a person who gets the most sleep is healthier than others, you could counter it by saying that a person who sleeps all day must therefore be in perfect shape. Offering extreme scenarios and equating them to the argument sounds absurd, but forces your opponent to rethink his or her strategy. If your scenario is clever enough, you may get them to agree with your stance.
For more tips and insight on The Art of Being Right, check out this video from Coffee Break.