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The Best Way to Win an Argument

We all have that friend who loves to argue. You know exactly who I’m talking about- the one who frustratingly has a comeback for everything you say, regardless of how absurd it is. They always seem to get under your skin; just THINKING about them gets you fired up. You would LOVE to best them in an argument, just once. You feel like that satisfaction would put you on top of the world- but HOW can you achieve it?

To start looking at this problem, we must break it down. People argue to try and get their point across to YOU, to try to change YOUR mind on something, or to try and put themself above YOU. They have no ammunition if you remove YOURSELF from the equation, and turn the focus towards THEM. Now how do you accomplish this, you might ask, without just getting up and walking away from the argument?

In order to begin disarming your opponent, actually listen to what they say. Do NOT think about what you are going to say next- listen to what they are saying, and ask them clarifying questions. Do not assume you know exactly what they are talking about, because there is a chance that you are arguing about nothing, due to a simple lack of understanding of each other. Do not underestimate the Law of Reciprocation- if you make an effort to understand them, they will likely reciprocate and try to understand you. You and your nemesis will tranquilize each other with clarifications and understanding.

To further remove their combative behavior, you must remove your ego. Nothing disarms an opponent more than your indifference towards who is the “winner” of the argument. At some point of the argument you must decide: am I arguing to feel good about myself, or to get a point across? Do you really think that beating an arguer in one argument is going to give you lasting personal validation? Sure, for maybe about five minutes. Feeling that you need the validation of another person, in the form of beating them in an argument, is a very low-status behavior. If you’re a smooth, charming fellow, and you lose an argument, you’re still going to still be a smooth, charming fellow. They’re still going to be an argumentative piece-of-work.

If you still absolutely MUST convince your opponent of something, don’t try to corner them or make them feel threatened. Throughout the animal kingdom, animals such as sharks, bears, and bees will not attack you unless they feel threatened. The more you threaten your opponent, the more defensive they will get, and it will be harder to get your point of view across. They will put up thick walls defending themselves, and will care less about what you have to say. One of the best ways to prevent coming across as threatening is to keep a calm demeanor throughout the argument. Keep an even, slow, and low voice tonality, along with non-threatening body language- do not stare down, point, or cross your arms. As tension escalates, it will become increasingly difficult to think rationally. Losing your temper is very childish and will likely accomplish nothing. Aim for solid eye contact while delivering a slow, powerful message.

It is important to note that not all arguments are negative. I’m not saying you should never argue-sometimes it can be fun to argue, and you can certainly learn a lot from others. You will find that none of these strategies will work if you are simply trying to win an argument for the sake of winning. If that is your goal, then sorry, I can’t help you. If you find yourself arguing with one of these people, it will be next to impossible to crumble them. It’s not worth wasting your breath, if you are trying to get something done, and they are just trying to win. Consider these strategies next time you find yourself in an argument, and you will find yourself a winner.

Image Credit: Ding Yuin Shan on Flickr (hyperlink-

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