Whether you’ve gotten into a rift with your significant other or your parents, having a few tools up the sleeve comes in handy. Many times, winning an argument isn’t determined by facts but rather the presentation of facts and finding common ground between the two parties. In addition to having strong evidence, one must also be capable of presenting his or her evidence in a convincing manner in order to win an argument.
There are three main steps to a successful argument: engagement, presentation, and agreement. The first step, engagement, requires you to discuss and understand your opponent’s viewpoint. Argument is just as much an exercise in communication as it is in logic, so it’s important to let your opponent know you have considered their stance and you are capable of analyzing situations from multiple perspectives. To make your engagement seem more genuine, try to use intimate eye contact, reiterating your opponent’s points, and finding some common ground.
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The next step is presentation, or explaining your side of the argument. In this step, it’s important to use both logos (logic) and pathos (emotion). First and foremost, know how to logically explain your argument and utilize scientific visuals to add credibility to your evidence. Now that you have the logos down, it’s time to sway your opponent with pathos. Take a softer, non-confrontational tone by lowering the pitch of your voice, using phrases with a degree of uncertainty, and verbal affirmations. The combination of these will make you seem more like a reasonable person caring more about the truth than winning the argument, causing your opponent to be more willing to agree with you.
Finally, once you have heard your opponent’s side and presented your evidence, it’s time to reach an agreement. By now, you should have a common ground you and your opponent agree on. Acknowledge the common ground, and if you have not already convinced your opponent at this point, you have just greatly improved your level of persuasion.
Sometimes winning a fight also comes down to whether you’ve been listening. Are you a good listener?