Wednesday, August 27, 2008

    How to win an argument to smart people

    Did it ever annoy you that even though your arguments were clearly better, the people watching seemed to support the other guy? Well, to me...oh so often!

    Lets take a look at this example:

    Person A: The moon landing was a hoax.
    Person B: I'm quite sure it is real. There are videos that prove it is real.
    Person A: The moon landing was a hoax.
    Person B: But the government could never cover something that big.
    Person A: The moon landing was a hoax.
    Person B: ...uh...but really, all those pictures they claimed to be false, the NASA proved them to be real.
    Person A: The moon landing was a hoax.
    Person B: But!...uhhh...

    Obviously, Person A is not providing any arguments, it is Person B who brings up evidence to back up his claim. But a third person, will see Person A being assertive, fast reacting, confident about himself and relaxed. He gives the impression that his point is so self evident that it is not even necessary to support it. Person B, although well intentioned, argues from a defensive position, lowering his social value. He may even start stuttering as his new arguments don't flow smoothly. Or from the frustration he may start to talk faster, move his hands around. All of these give a poor impression to the people watching.

    If afterwards you ask the third person, we will very likely say something like: Well, I don't know it, but it might very likely have been a hoax. So why does Person A win even though he did not prove his point? Because the argument was not really about if the moon was a hoax! A third person will be submitted to all kind of other information, not related to that topic. The speaking rhythm, the tone of the voice, the way they stand, their facial expression, how they move their hands, and so many other things. It is estimated that only 30% of the attention in the communication goes to listening what the others say, the rest goes to non-verbal communication.
    If you repeat the message many times, it is more likely to catch on. Just repeat repeat and repeat your point. You will lose some points because you don't bring up any proofs, but by doing such an easy job your body language and your speaking will be much better, outweighing the lack of reasoning.

    This style will work specially well against well intentioned and intelligent people and a public without that doesn't have strong opinion on the subject.

    Of course, you shouldn't make it to obvious nor use it in front of the same people to often so they don't notice the pattern. The technique can be improved by slightly ridiculing you opponents position and other tricks. But lets leave that for some other day.

    Give it a try. Focus less on the arguments, emphasize your position, enjoy.

    No comments: