The secret to winning arguments.

At any given moment millions of people are engaged in millions of arguments. Husbands vs. wives. Neighbor vs. neighbor. Cable company vs. cable subscriber.

Some of them are winning, others are losing, all of them are getting worked up. Why? Why do people pick fights? Why does it matter to us when someone has a different opinion or belief? Why do we feel compelled to defend our superior thinking to their wrong-headedness? I don’t know, we just do.

The fact is, some people look at arguments as a sport. Their day is not complete without one. The stoopidest argument I ever had concerned, and I’m not kidding, whether rain made your windshield dirtier than snow.

Since then I’ve learned a thing or two about arguments and strategy and logic. The most important being, don’t get flustered. It’s counter-productive. You needn’t become confrontational, either. The loudest voice doesn’t necessarily prevail. A measured, logical approach to your arguments is always recommended. And, don’t forget, sprinkling a few facts into your case doesn’t hurt. Just make sure you’ve got them straight.

However, even someone as smart as you is bound to be pulled into an argument or two you can’t win. But, with just a word, you can shut down your opponents and leave them without a comeback. Let’s say you’re arguing about, oh, profitable stocks. You’re on the losing side. The other guy peppers you with ROI statistics, historical performance data, the whole shmear. You? You got nothing. So when he says something like, “and that stock split 2 months ago,” you respond “so?” The best your opponent can do is sputter, “so!?! so!?!” You might feel a need to smirk, try to resist. Another recommended response, “I don’t care” is just as effective. You could even double up with “so? I don’t care”, the results will be identical.

A word of caution may be needed here. “So” and “I don’t care” should be used judiciously. If an argument threatens to get out of control or pushes are exchanged, you might want to start nodding and repeating, “you’re right, you’re right, good point, you’re right, sorry” as you back away. If you’re significantly smaller or slower than your opponent, refer to the aforementioned advice.

To sum up, either option is an acceptable, ego-soothing tactic, but not for every difference of opinion. Save them for dire circumstances — the ones where you’re losing.

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2 Responses to “The secret to winning arguments.”

  1. She's a Maineiac

    And here I was thinking all these years that when my husband slowly backed away and repeated, “you’re right, you’re right” he was being truthful.

    My younger brother and I only had one argument in our entire lives: whether fish had souls or not. It was ugly. My feeling was, how can we really know for sure? I think I won (and I think a few beers were consumed during this fight but my memory is a bit foggy)

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    • publikworks

      Well, how can we know for sure? I operate on the principle everything has a soul, lamps, paper plates, zebras. Until I hear differently I’m sticking to it.

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