Okay, kind of a misleading title because if you set out to “win” an argument you aren’t likely to get very far. I’ve seen a lot of arguments lately on facebook and other places. People take a side on an issue and take the stance that anyone who disagrees with them is just plain wrong. There’s a tendency to dispense with any tact and go right for the “and if you can’t see that you’re just ignorant, stupid, (or pick your adjective). This type of communication rarely changes someone’s mind and likely makes them dig in their heels even more.
I’ve never met anyone who responds well to criticism, especially when it’s harsh criticism. People often just dig in and defend themselves or their position more intently.
So how do you change your communication strategy and convince someone to listen to your side of things? Start by assuming they have good reasons for thinking, feeling, or behaving the way they do. For them, they are doing something that makes sense and have good reasons for what they are doing. Trying to understand those reasons before you try to convince them of your way of thinking about it, you’ll get further. So to win an argument, you’ll want to treat it as more of a discussion than an argument. If you have an argument, then someone wins and someone loses–and who likes losing?.
But, if you have a discussion, you communicate thoughts and ideas and see if you can learn from each other. This keeps things from getting heated and allows the other person to listen and think about what you are saying. The other person has reasons for thinking and feeling the way they do that make sense to them based on their experiences. Start by accepting this and then see if you can provide an alternative way to view the situation. However, you also have to be willing to really listen to what they are saying for this to really work.
Gary Watson is a Solution Focused Therapist in Grand Rapids Michigan. He provides counseling for couples, teenagers, and adults. He provides counseling for anxiety, depression, stress, college and work stress, and relationship problems. For more information, please visit the website at www.turnaboutcounseling.com.