It seems that over the past few years of controversy and heated debate there has only become more around - largely thanks to social networks, where everyone can express their opinion and point out a mistake to another. We decided to understand the practical side of the issue - how to argue correctly, convince the interlocutor to pay attention to your arguments and benefit from the discussion.
Don't turn an argument into a fight
The main mistake people make in arguments is being overly emotional: it turns the discussion into conflict. The book "The Political Brain" describes an experiment conducted by a group of psychologists. In 2004, during the election campaign in the United States, they invited supporters of George W. Bush and John Kerry to participate. People watched videos of a candidate they supported saying things that completely contradicted his views - while scientists were examining their brains using MRI scans. The results showed that when people heard information with which they disagreed, the brain regions responsible for logic were inactive - but those responsible for the fight-or-flight response were activated.
Thus, the dispute turns into a conflict, and it does not matter who is right and whose position is better argued. This situation often unfolds online: although there is more time to think about our answer, we do not always hold back and often respond emotionally - or we just start a discussion with a negative post. “It doesn't matter if you are telling the truth, whether your position is substantiated and whether it is based on facts, because most people will not read what you actually said. They will just see the emotional side of your message and respond accordingly,”says journalist, TV presenter and writer Caitlin Moran about the controversy on the Internet.
The only way to deal with the problem is to try to control your emotions or, if you can't, get away from the argument altogether. If your interlocutor is negative, try not to answer him in the same way - it is better to take a couple of deep breaths and calmly and reasonably explain your position. Plus, when you are driven by anger, you will be much less convincing.
Listen and clarify
This may seem obvious, but victory in an argument is impossible without the ability to listen to your opponent and clearly understand his position. Often, when our interlocutor gives counterarguments, we hardly listen to him, because we think over what we are going to answer. Although discussion is impossible without this, it is better to maintain a balance.
Clarifying exactly what it is about is just as important as listening. If you are not sure that you have understood your opponent correctly, do not be afraid to ask again: many disputes drag on simply because the interlocutors do not fully understand each other and give arguments that are not related to the positions expressed. This is also useful if the interlocutor leaves the topic or cannot focus on one question - this way you can keep the discussion on track.
Don't use the same argument over and over
Admit it: most disputes in ordinary life end in nothing, and each of the interlocutors remains unconvinced. If you feel like the discussion is getting stuck, you shouldn't use the same arguments over and over - it's better to end the discussion instead. Anita Vangelisti, a professor of communication theory at the University of Texas who specializes in interpersonal communication, believes that in cases where the argument has run out and you want to end the conversation, it is better to say something like: “I still disagree with you, but I don’t I want to swear because of this. " According to the expert, this allows you to remain in your position, but at the same time be polite - but what else do you need?
Focus not on differences, but on similarities
A good technique to help you win an argument is to pay attention not to differences, but to similarities in your positions, and try to speak the language of your opponent. It is better to build arguments so that they are understandable to the interlocutor and appeal to his opinion. For example, if you’re talking to conservative relatives about the benefits of emigrating, you don’t have to say that rejection of immigrants is racist. Instead, it is better to try to explain how they benefit the economy. This approach makes your position more universal: if you use standard arguments, they will be understandable and close only to those who are already on your side - and this is not what you are trying to achieve.
Don't get distracted from the topic
This is especially common in discussions on social networks: everyone who has ever participated in a large-scale dispute online knows that at a certain stage, people unfamiliar to the author of the post also connect to it, who pay attention to things that have nothing to do with the original topic. A striking example is the discussion that unfolded in the comments to the post of a student at the Higher School of Economics. She accused the teachers of violating the rights of students: the first claim that only a man can be the head of the group. In response, the girl was accused of not protecting the rights of men when they face discrimination. And although the fact that a person has decided to defend the rights of a particular oppressed group does not mean that he will defend the rights of all, such accusations are regularly brought up.
Kaitlyn Moran gave good advice on how to deal with such situations: “When you are told: 'You cannot talk about this without mentioning this', the best answer in this case is:“I know! Let me do the first, and you - the second, and then we can make the world a better place with double strength! Thanks for volunteering! You acted like an adult. On behalf of the whole world - thank you! ".
Understand that our knowledge is limited - and use it
We get into an argument when we think we know the subject well - but when asked additional questions, it often turns out that this is not the case. This discovery can be used as an advantage: a study published in the journal Psychological Science showed that people become more open to other people's point of view when asked to explain how they think the measures they support should work.
The researchers asked the Americans participating in the experiment to express their views on several policy areas over which controversy often flares up (imposing sanctions on Iran, health care and carbon dioxide emissions). The study participants were divided into two groups. The first was to explain why he adheres to this or that point of view, as in an ordinary dispute. The members of the second group were asked not to talk about the merits of their position, but to explain how the measures they advocate should be introduced and what consequences they will lead to. As a result of the experiment, the members of the first group remained unconvinced. The members of the second group began to less zealously aside their position, as they saw the problem in a new light.
This technique can be used in any discussion: ask the interlocutor to think about the consequences of the policy that he supports, or how exactly the events developed, the explanation for which he offers. And be prepared for the fact that it is not him who will have to change your mind, but you - it is not always possible to come out of a dispute as a winner.
Admit mistakes and don't be afraid to give in
Arguments in a dispute are rarely flawless. People tend to be wrong, so admitting your mistakes is essential in any discussion. In addition, one inaccuracy does not mean that you are wrong in everything and you need to radically reconsider your point of view - it is enough to admit it and continue to defend your opinion.This will show opponents that you are open to discussion.
The ability to give in to the interlocutor, defending your position is a good rhetorical technique that helps you get out of an argument as a winner. Abraham Lincoln, for example, said that the southern states have their own rights, but they do not include the right to slavery and to expand slavery to other territories - we all remember how this discussion ended.
Learn to lose
There is no universal answer to the question of how to win any dispute - simply because it is impossible and unnecessary. It is much more important to learn how to play and benefit from the experience, gaining new knowledge. Philosopher Daniel Cohen, who specializes in argumentation theory, explains in his TED talk why it is bad to think of an argument as a war with a winner and a loser. We strive to determine who won, even when the debate has benefited both participants and they brought out something new for themselves.
He advises a new model of discussion - debate-representation: you imagine that you are speaking in front of an audience that you are trying to convince of something, and invisible spectators weigh the arguments of opponents and act as a jury. In this case, even if you lose the argument, it will still benefit you: you will learn something new about your position, test your theory and reveal imperfections in it. In this case, the discussion helps all its participants - and this is what we should strive for.