How to Argue to Win: 7 Tips for Effective Communication

Ironically, making a powerful argument has zero to do with power and everything to do with social and language skills. When engaged in a friendly debate, professional conflict or collaborative decision making process, there are seven important tactics to keep in mind.

One of the most necessary and powerful skills anyone can have is the ability to create a strong argument. The art of arguing is typically associated with lawyers and philosophers, however, it is in our normal daily lives that all of us can benefit from the power of conveying an argument well.

(So, I know I said I would make a recipe post next, but with it being the start of a new work week, I decided to take a more practical route.)

How to Win an Argument Fair and Square with 7 amazing tips
laradanielle / Foter / CC BY-ND

Ironically, making a powerful argument has zero to do with power and everything to do with social and language skills. When engaged in a friendly debate, professional conflict or collaborative decision making process, there are seven important tactics to keep in mind.

1. Compartmentalization. Organize your emotions. As soon as a sign of emotion is detected by those around you, immediately, the strength of your argument weakens. While the connections to our emotions should have no effect in the result of an argument, because of social biases and values, emotions are unfortunately connected to “irrational” thinking or confusion. So, don’t necessarily oppress your emotions, just try to keep them out of the spotlight when communicating throughout an argument process.

2. Facts. The power of facts is indisputable. Stay up to date on the issues relevant to your argument. Aim to stay one step ahead of others as much as possible.

Facts are stubborn things. #johnadams #quote Click To Tweet

3. Validation. Acknowledge the other point/s of view, even before you start giving yours. By demonstrating an understanding of your opponent’s argument, you not only prove you’re listening but also a bit of flattery goes a long way. Others will more likely listen to you once they note that you have been listening to them.

How to Win an Argument Fair and Square with 7 amazing tips
pedrosimoes7 / Foter / CC BY

4. Language choices. Instead of starting with “I think,” make a declarative statement such as, “It is a fact that…” Other phrases to avoid: “In my opinion,” “Perhaps,” “Maybe,” “I believe” etc. These phrases dilute the potency of your points. Avoid aggressive or “bad” words. This shuts people off right away. Do not insult or demean. Big words can be effective, but it’s all audience based. In other words, make sure your language choices are comprehendible to those you are communicating with.

How to Win an Argument Fair and Square with 7 amazing tips
Karsten Bitter / Foter / CC BY-ND

5. Examples. Even if hypothetical, examples or scenarios can illustrate your points in a concrete way.

6. Story-telling. With stories, you can humanize your agenda. Those in the conversation are more likely to relate to a character driven anecdote, becoming interested and even concerned.

How to Win an Argument Fair and Square with 7 amazing tips
Celeste / Foter / CC BY-NC

7. Tone. Your tone should be confident, calm, concise and conscientious. In other words, believe in what your saying, steer clear of your anger or sorrow, keep it simple, relevant and clear (don’t drone on and on–you’re asking to be tuned out), and be polite (be aware of any potential sensitive points of conversation such as religion). Do not be condescending (do not talk down or belittle). Do not get personal. Keep it professional and practical.

Also: while your agenda may be to win, maintain an open mind. Winning is not as important as problem resolution and/or learning from others.

How to Win an Argument Fair and Square with 7 amazing tips
localjapantimes / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

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