“Oh look, this isn’t an argument.”
“Yes it is.”
“No it isn’t. It’s just contradiction.”

Here are some undeniable* truths which I’ve learnt from watching all kinds of arguments, from drunken Saturday night encounters in the chip shop to online rap battles and family disputes at Christmas:

  1. Insults only have the power you grant them. Appear not to care, and even the harshest words will be about as damaging as dandelion seeds in the wind.
  2. While showing emotion is good, don’t lose your temper. Lose that and you’ve lost the argument.
  3. To really rile your opponent, appear to not realise that you’re irritating them. This is by far the most irritating thing you can do.
  4. Audiences love an underdog. Witnessing someone being outwitted by an apparently weaker opponent is joyous.
(* don’t try, I will crush you.)
These people completely despise each other.
When you’re speaking in public, it may feel like a battle, but you can learn from the principles of a good barney:
  1. Have absolute belief in your words. If you haven’t, write some new words until you do.
  2. Have absolute belief in yourself. Assume the authority you were granted by being asked to speak.
  3. Apologise for nothing. Acknowledge obvious mistakes and move on.
  4. The lower your perceived standing, the greater chance you have to impress. Worried about being regarded as somehow inferior because you’re the youngest, the least experienced, or you’re obviously from a minority? Guess what: you have the greatest chance of blowing the audience away with a surprise success.   


“That was never five minutes!”
“I’m afraid it was.”
“It wasn’t.”
“I’m sorry, but I’m not allowed to argue any more.”


3 Thoughts to “How to Win Arguments”

  1. I’d make one observation: apologising can be a very effective means to win an argument. It can completely disrupt your interlocutor’s train of thought, particularly when they’ve fixated on that one point to try to beat you down because, as soon as you’ve apologised, they look churlish if they continue to press that point. Whilst they’re still reeling from having their focal argument undermined, keep the momentum and press home your advantage!

    1. Removing all resistance is certainly a very smart move. Getting their name and job is also good because then they get the spotlight (which they may have been after in the first place), and then you can refer back to them and their line of work as you continue. Referring to someone by name can be very effective!

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