In his 1936 book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, which is now one of the best-selling books of all time, Dale Carnegie said: “I have come to the conclusion that there is only one method under heaven to get the best of a dispute – and that is to avoid it. It’s best to avoid it like rattlesnakes and earthquakes.”
This aversion to debates is widespread, but it stems from a misunderstanding of arguments that has serious implications for our personal and social life — and misses the objective of arguing entirely.
Of course, if arguments were fights, Carnegie would be right. Verbal conflicts, like physical confrontations, can result in bloodshed on both sides. Even if you win, you will not be any better off. If disagreements were merely competitions, like boxing matches, your chances would be almost as bad.
Opponents throw punches at each other until just one of competitors emerges the winner, either by points, or by knockout. Whether one wins convincingly or not, the other one is left with resentment. Such is the nature of fights—or arguments and debates for that matter. In a fight, there are casualties on both sides.
This is why so many people attempt to avoid fights, especially when it comes to politics or religion.
1. Know Your Turf
The biblical king David never fought the battle in Goliath’s turf. He avoided that like the plague. He avoided the traditional methods of war—even avoided the traditional combat gear like the spear, sword, the helmet, the shield, and combat clothing, saying it was too heavy for him—that it would hinder his movements.
Instead, he chose simple implements like five smooth stones and a sling, and wore simple light clothes.
2. Study Your Opponent
The key to winning any argument is to know the strengths and weaknesses of your opponent. What do they stand for? What about their beliefs and values?
You can easily win any argument against your opponent by understanding and appealing to their higher values. You can exploit their weaknesses by turning their arguments back on them.
3. Be like an Eagle
If you are sure of yourself, maintain your strong composure, discipline, and confidence. If you’re anything like me, you’d rather avoid fighting at all costs. But if it’s something you must do and truly believe in, and find it important to defend, then go ahead, stand firm and defend your course.
Sarcasm may be nasty and demeaning. When you think your opponent is being stupid, it’s all too tempting to offer a snarky remark, but stay away from those sassy remarks, which may make any dispute much worse. Consider taking the high road.
When water is poured into a glass or a jar, it takes on that container’s shape.
Provoke your opponent to punch in the air. If you believe your opponent is stronger than you, let them speak as much as they like. Ever heard that silence is the best defense? This is the time to use it.
You can’t win an argument if you don’t listen carefully to what your opponent is trying to say. This is where most people lose arguments. Many people are so concentrated on what they’re about to say that they overlook their opponent’s arguments and think they’re correct.
It’s best to avoid making direct attacks on your opponent’s lifestyle, integrity, or honesty.
3 Best Books of All Time FREE Download
How to Win an Argument: An Ancient Guide to the Art of Persuasion
All of us are faced countless times with the challenge of persuading others, whether we’re trying to win a trivial argument with a friend or convince our coworkers about an important decision. Instead of relying on untrained instinct–and often floundering or failing as a result–we’d win more arguments if we learned the timeless art of verbal persuasion, rhetoric.
How to Win an Argument gathers the rhetorical wisdom of Cicero, ancient Rome’s greatest orator, from across his works and combines it with passages from his legal and political speeches to show his powerful techniques in action. The result is an enlightening and entertaining practical introduction to the secrets of persuasive speaking and writing–including strategies that are just as effective in today’s offices, schools, courts, and political debates as they were in the Roman forum.
How to Win Every Argument: The Use and Abuse of Logic
This is the book your friends will wish you hadn’t read, a witty and infectious guide to arguing successfully.
Each entry deals with one fallacy, explaining what the fallacy is, giving and analyzing an example, outlining when/where/why the particular fallacy tends to occur and finally showing how you can perpetrate the fallacy on other people in order to win an argument.
Originally published to great acclaim in 1985 as “The Book of Fallacy”, this is a classic brought up-to-date for a whole new generation.
How to Win Friends and Influence People
Dale Carnegie’s effective methods to deal with people are legendary, while his wisdom has endured for a century, touching millions and millions of readers – The only diploma that hangs in Warren Buffett’s office is his certificate from Dale Carnegie Training. Lee Iacocca credits Carnegie for giving him the courage to speak in public. Dilbert creator Scott Adams called Carnegie’s teachings “life-changing”.
In today’s world, where more and more of our communication takes place across wires and screens, Carnegie’s lessons have not only lasted but become all the more critical.
Though he never could have predicted technology’s trajectory, Carnegie proves a wise and helpful teacher in this digital landscape. To demonstrate the many ways his lessons remain relevant, Dale Carnegie & Associates, Inc., has reimagined his prescriptions and his advice for this difficult digital age.
We may communicate today with different tools and with greater speed, but Carnegie’s advice on how to communicate, lead, and work efficiently remains priceless across the ages.