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Four ways to be a better arguer

An article in Scientific American presents four ways that research shows can improve your likelihood of winning arguments:

  1. Open your mind. If you’re too busy trying to push your own point of view, you’re apt to ignore even the most reasonable evidence and arguments your opponent makes. If participants share an interest in discovering the right answer, it has been shown that truth wins.
  1. Have hope. In the middle of a heated argument, it’s tough to picture everything working out well in the end with your opponent. Yet remaining hopeful may actually help that happen.
  1. Change it up. To resolve well-worn arguments, we need to break out of the system by thinking and acting in ways we usually would not. Doing or saying the unexpected may feel strange or even fake at first, but behaving in a way that’s counter to what’s usual throws the other person off the pattern and thereby allows reframing.
  1. Try smiling. Defensiveness can derail an argument, sending it into a spiral of pure negative emotion. But a genuine laugh or smile can completely diffuse a tense situation and help turn it around.

The article concludes with this advice:

…the goal of arguing shouldn’t be to win at all costs, with intimidation, fact rattling, loud talking, even smack talking. A better, more satisfying end game of any argument is to find some common ground. Then, somehow, everybody wins.


Also published on Medium.

RealKM Magazine

RealKM Magazine brings managers and knowledge management (KM) practitioners the findings of high-value knowledge management research through concise, practically-oriented articles.

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