Outlast Your Opposing Dougs: Tips for Making Argument Successful

At a dinner party, Winston Churchill was arguing with a woman. Churchill was a difficult man, with a fiery personality and a willingness to stand firm on his beliefs. They argued until she finally said, “If I were your wife, I’d poison your coffee.” “If I were your husband,” Churchill retorted, “I’d drink it.” In the heat of the moment, I never consider those comebacks. It’s always on the way home that I realise I could have completely owned this other person. “L’esprit D’escalier,” or stairway wit, is a French expression for this.

The truth is that I despise arguing. I dislike conflict. But, because argumentation is so important, I’ve studied it to death. Making a good, strong argument is essential for obtaining a raise, deescalating a conflict, suffering fools, preserving friendships, and many other things.

Like a pro, you can snipe an argument.
Rule 1: Don’t come in too hot — and I don’t just mean emotionally. In court, for example, it has been demonstrated that witnesses are more credible to juries when they express moderate confidence rather than low or high confidence. It has an immediate impact on verdicts and sentencing. When you lack confidence, you appear to be unsure of yourself and what you’re saying. When you are overconfident, you appear domineering, insecure, or driven by ego (“I have to win!”). As entertaining and memorable as Churchill’s example was, it wasn’t the most effective way to persuade someone. Paul Graham, a scientist, developed a hierarchy of disagreement, ranking the best and worst debate strategies. Personal attacks and name-calling are the lowest.

The best way to argue is to focus on a single strong point. Don’t do it again and again. Simply construct everything around it. During a fight in a relationship, it is critical to maintain focus. One of the most common pieces of advice given by marriage counsellors is to “always stick to what you’re arguing about.” There will be no more bringing skeletons and resentments out of the closet. “You want to talk about chore sharing when you can’t even pay your own bills.” “And you’re wondering why I despise your fatass family.” You’d be surprised how many nice, polite people develop devil horns when arguing with their spouses. They escalate a simple disagreement into a nuclear war. Your head is spinning and on fire by the end of the argument. You can’t even recall what the original debate was about.

Arguing when you’re certain you’re right
Nothing beats knowing you have the ability to dunk on someone. You’re well aware of the science. You have the reasoning. You have human decency standards. Chill. The other person will lock up if you come in with guns blazing and all of your clear evidence. They’ll feel intimidated and incapable of listening to you. The best arguers have been shown to use a small number of key points. They don’t speak in rapid succession or clap in the person’s face. They inquire. They are well aware that changing someone’s mind is nearly impossible. By asking questions, that person will change their mind. Great arguers remain calm, kind, and empathetic — no matter how ignorant or stupid their opponent is.

They frequently begin by stating what they agree on. They frequently compliment their opponent in the first minute.Soft opening is disarming. It’s surprising. It emphasises a desire for cooperation rather than war and condescension. I’ve spent the last ten years writing on the internet, where anyone can comment. It’s the absolute worst. I’ve never seen anyone stop and say, “You know what, you’re right. I’m mistaken. Today has taught us all a lot.” Not even once. Persuasion begins with kindness, not with fire. “The first man to raise a fist is the man who has run out of ideas,” wrote HG Wells.

Dealing with yelling and toxicity in real life
I’d been seeing someone for a few months. We had a loving and sweet relationship that was otherwise good and healthy. We were having a disagreement when she burst out laughing and started screaming. Six or seven sentences in a row, she yelled at the top of her lungs. She’d never raised her voice in her life before. I was completely taken aback and stunned. I remained silent. There are only two viable options for dealing with this situation. One — you put an end to the discussion. Therapists frequently state that even responding validates the verbal abuse (yes, shouting is considered verbal abuse — period).

Two, you take a detour.
Forget about the actual debate. Have a conversation about the conversation. When someone becomes upset unexpectedly, show calm curiosity about their emotions and why they are upset. Staying calm demonstrates your own strength while also demonstrating that you care about their feelings. The worst thing you can do is respond by shouting back.

The key to being a great debater
Maintain your calm and confidence, but avoid overconfidence. Demonstrate empathy and a desire for progress. Keep the discussion in one lane. Don’t let it turn into six different debates. Begin by acknowledging areas of agreement. Concentrate on a few key points. If you have the advantage, don’t overpower them or feel the need to dominate. The goal is for both of you to feel like you’ve grown as a result of the conversation. In the face of idiocy and aggression, it’s difficult to remain kind and understanding. But if you succeed, you will be the true champion. You’ll be proud of what you did rather than regretting it.

Hi, I’m Garima and I write about life experiences. I have several books available on Amazon. Here’s a link to my author page – https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0BQDZXYNV. Check them out today! Any purchases or KDP reads will be greatly appreciated. If you like my books, do leave a review.


9 Comments Add yours

  1. Lori says:

    Garima, this is filled with great information. I’m happy to say that my husband and I have never been rude or name-called during an argument. Arguing can be healthy if done without malice. In actuality, when two people are arguing in a relationship, it’s likely both are feeling misunderstood and unloved by the other person. It’s usually good to remember that the other person is feeling just as misunderstood and hurt as you.

    However, in a debate over opinions over societal issues, your point about asking the other person questions is what I do. The problem I run into is when I ask the other person questions that they don’t have the answers to, and then I present them with the facts, they end up name-calling because they have no other defense. I’m not always diplomatic when name-calling happens. I might respond like Churchill. 😏😕

    On a lighter note on this same topic. Being raised with American Italians, arguing is just a part of life. We don’t take it seriously nor do we take offense. Sometimes it’s just our natural conversation. I’ll leave you with a cute and funny video of an Italian little girl learning to argue that I put up on my blog years ago. It’s not me, but it’s a good depiction of my Italian upbringing. Scroll down to the bottom for the video. Thank you for the good information.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. GS says:

      Aww loved the video. Thank you for sharing your insights on the post, Lori!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve learned the best thing to do in a debate, is just learn where I screwed up. I can’t control the other person. Or, just listen to their point of view. The thing about debate, is that it’s one sided. You’re often so worried about making your point, that you don’t listen to the other person’s.

    I had a Lawyer once shut me down. We were talking about the efficacy of Democracy for government, and I had stated what Machiavelli said, which is that Democracy was the most stable, and healthy form of government. It lasted longer than all others, and produced the most sustainable peace. He got REAL MAD, and started telling me about the Pax Romana. I had never heard of that term before—likely because it’s just a myth of Rome’s Golden Age—and I just sat and listened. I told him to tell me what he knew about it. He did. And I walked out of the room, and thought a little bit about what he was talking about, and realized he was praising Nero, Caligula, Claudius and Tiberius. So, I just whispered to myself, went back in and didn’t even bother to correct him. As it would have been rude, obnoxious, and an affront to my uncle, where I was the guest.

    I mean, he brought it up on his phone, and I looked it up on Encyclopedia Britannica. He had Wikipedia queued up, but I scrolled down and used Britannica. I don’t use Wikipedia, except for very niche things that couldn’t possibly have a political bias.

    And, frankly, I’m proud of myself for not having argued with him. As it would have been rude. I don’t need to correct everyone’s faulty behavior.

    I also had a friend once tell me about Global Cooling—which was a thing back in the 80s but he was talking about it right now—and I just listened. No point in arguing. I don’t have to be the world’s savior. I just know my information is correct, and let the other person have their say. No matter how wrong.

    As, the best way to win a debate, is simply to not have it. People believe all sorts of faulty things, and it’s not important to correct it, unless there’s a reason to do it. Like, I also had a debate with a guy at church, and it was about one of the Judges of Israel, whether he sacrificed his daughter. Now, that was one of my favorite stories, and since the group was geared toward that kind of engagement, I did correct him. I choose my battles, and we had a sparring session, they looked it up on the phone, and that was that. There’s no point in debating something, when the other person isn’t going to change their mind. Although, I suspect he might have because I brought up a salient point within the text, but that’s just because it’s one of my favorite Bible stories. I think the Daughter, electing to be a virgin the rest of her life and living sacrificially at her father’s request, is kind of a beautiful story about honoring one’s father and mother. That the daughter even would, without contest, is something heroic and unheard of today. I find that one of the most beautiful examples of that time’s ethos, and that’s why I love the story. But, that was a setting where it would have been appreciated. And I don’t have to always do that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. GS says:

      Thank you for sharing your experience.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Jony says:

    Thanks on point, love this 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. GS says:

      Glad you liked the post

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Let your moderation be known to man; not too little and not too much. My thoughts on Rule #1.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. GS says:



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