No matter what word you use—argument, altercation, disagreement, etc.—life is full of debates.
You might debate with yourself if you should have a second piece of cake at the office, with your spouse about whether or not the car really does need to go to the shop, or with a colleague about the meaning of a particular protocol.
The word often brings to mind political candidates on a stage making structured arguments, but the truth is debate is all around us. Despite what you may think, you don’t need a presidential debate book to know how to win these arguments, you just need to keep a couple of tips in mind.
Consider the Audience
Who are you trying to convince? In many personal debates, you’re trying to convince your opponent of your view point. This differs greatly from a political debate, in which candidates are convincing their audience, so your tactics should be different too.
It’s best if you know your opponent and why they believe what they do. This can help you appeal to whatever values or ideas hold them firm to their opinions and use those angles to persuade them otherwise.
The easiest way to break through to someone is through something they understand and care about, so once you have that pathway, you’ll be off to the races.
Focus on Their Strengths
It’s easy to poke holes in the weakest parts of someone’s argument, but it still leaves them with a firm center to stand on. A better attack is to focus on the strongest bits of their view and see if you can shake their foundation.
Take time at the beginning of the argument to find out their core belief and what they’re debating you about. You can clearly establish this by asking them outright to clarify; something like, “So you think all cake is delicious no matter flavor?”
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Now you know exactly what you’re arguing against and can better keep them on track throughout the debate.
Don’t Take Their Bait
Finally, we’ve all had arguments that start as one thing and turn into something entirely different. You may have started fighting with your wife about the dishes, but twenty minutes later it’s about how often your mother calls. It’s easy to get swept up in emotions when debating a topic, but stand firm to your argument and always bring the conversation back to the issue at hand.
Image Credit: tricks to successful arguments by envato.com
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