How To Win An Argument

How To Win An Argument

When we argue, we often feel a strong desire to prove our idea quickly and aggressively. We throw our arguments at another person, give thousands of examples in support of our innocence. But at the same time, we meet with the firm position of the opponent.

We do not even try to imagine what he thinks about our battle and arguments. This model of behavior is the most common, but almost never leads to success. Indeed, at this moment a wall of misunderstanding arises and grows between us. I call this battle argument vs explanation.

The unwillingness to hear the opponent moves him or her away from us, and we reduce our chances to win the argument.  

Argument vs Explanation: What Works Best?

To learn how to argue with benefit for yourself, pay all your attention to the “enemy”. This idea may seem unusual and weird to you, but it’s the most effective way to win an argument.

To win an argument, you need to understand what your opponent really thinks on the topic. Then find the gaps in his understanding while he is talking to you. Indeed, even the most experienced “expert” for the most part doesn’t see some details. So, we identify this problem most often in the behavior of people with many years of experience, who believe they already know more than just a lot. But this is the catch ‒ they can know the information generalized without going into the details.

This happens with teachers who read memorized material for years. They have an opinion that they will not be surprised by anything. Therefore, the nuances for them are not noticeable. And only a fresh look and position can complement their picture of the world.

An argument can be devoted to anything. Both vacation plans and the situation in the Middle East or environmental pollution. Everyone considers himself an expert, yes, the one and only. But only if we listen more and put less pressure on our opponent or partner, we will have a chance to convey our thoughts.

Destroying An illusion of Understanding

So, more than ten years ago, Yale scientists Cale and Rosenblatt conducted an experiment on the topic of arguments. It became clear that most of the participants, who believed to be great experts, actually knew only superficially about it. Scientists called this effect an illusion of depth of understanding. 

At first, people were asked how much they knew about the working principles of different devices. For example, a speedometer in a car, a restroom flushing system, a tonometer for measuring pressure. Then the participants had to describe the mechanism of work of these objects. As it turned out, after the explanation, people on average rated their understanding of the subject much lower than before the attempt to describe it.

Scientists concluded that when the subject is familiar to us, we face an illusion of understanding. But in fact, we always miss important details. When nobody checks us, the brain works to simplify information and generalize it. We can hide a superficial understanding of processes not only from others but also from ourselves.

That is why the statement “You live, you learn” explains the situation so well. No matter how much we think that we know everything, in fact, we can always find new aspects.

Let Your Opponent Speak First 

This method underlies effective communication to win an argument and achieve results in disputes and important negotiations. When we need the opponent to agree with us, first of all, we need to hear his explanations to see where he is wrong in some way and find his weak spots. Understanding his mistakes will help to quickly pay attention to our alternative.

In the struggle of argument vs explanation, it is clearly seen that the approach to describing an opponent’s position is more thoughtful and effective. 

It has two distinct advantages. So, when we invite the opponent to speak first, we help him open emotionally to us. Instead of a strict tone of confrontation, we invite him to a conversation, winning his trust, and forming a friendly atmosphere. In this case, your opponent will not prefer to attack and defend his position, and he will be more willing to listen to your alternative opinion.

The second advantage is that you can see how well a person understands the topic and does he really understand everything. You need to offer your own alternative exactly where blind spots appear. A person who sees a hole in understanding will definitely want to fill it with some new argument. And then your opinion will be useful.

So, listen carefully and open your ears to win an argument.