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Thread: Winning Arguments

  1. #1
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Winning Arguments

    Gerry Spence - you know, the extremely successful 'cowboy' attormey who was NBC's legal commentator for the OJ trial wrote a book called "How to Argue and Win Every Time". The gist of the book was that it's nearly impossible to 'win' an argument once the matter of discussion has become an 'argument' and that the artistry in persuading others to one's own way of thinking was to prevent the discussion from becoming an argument in the first place. And the best way to accomplish this is first to be able to see things as clearly as possible from another's point of view and procede to take any line of reasoning from that perspective as a starting position.

    Ben Franklin said much the same in his autobiography when he described how he was able to persuade infamously partisan politicians. He recounted how at first in his youth he became quite adept at using the Socratic method to 'win' arguments and make others look foolish, but explained how later in life he learned to be careful in refuting other's positions by stating that while their view was quite understandible and justified given a particular set of circumstances it appeared to the present circumstances may be a little different and therefore they may wish to consider... (insert view). He also made provision to allow any potential adversary some means to save face, thereby preventing any ill-feeling towards him in future discourse.

    Dale Carnegie (author of "How to Win Friends and Influnce People") subscribed to all the above and added that one of the best methods of persuasion is always to appeal to people's noblest/highest/altruistic aims.

    As planners dealing with many different and often conflicting interests, we find ourselves in the positions of being adversaries, mediators, and allies. What methods do you, or others you know, use to most efffectively build consensus or win others to your way of thinking?
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    You’re wrong... just wrong, so there.

    I reality, I think that this is one of my biggest problems. I get pulled into these things. I am going to try to understand the other person’s point of view before I express my side.

    Mahatma Gandhi said that three-forths of the miseries and misunderstandings in the world will disappear if we step into the shoes of our adversaries and understand their standpoint.
    If you want different results in your life, you need to do different things than you have done in the past. Change is that simple.

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    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    I don't win arguments. I am married. "All together guys - The Man's Prayer. "I'm a man. But I can change. If I have to. I guess."
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by otterpop
    I don't win arguments. I am married. "All together guys - The Man's Prayer. "I'm a man. But I can change. If I have to. I guess."
    Funny you should mention it, once in a while when Mrs. Maister starts ratcheting up the vitriol in discussions, I will say, with no hint or tone of sarcasm or irony, something like "You're absolutely right. I'm absolutely wrong. There is no validity whatsoever to my viewpoint and your position is completely founded in reason." This always causes her to back up, scratch her head and process what was just said. 8 out of 10 times she will afterwards temporize, make concessions, or outright reverse her position. That's just her, though.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    "I understand that you think my mother wears combat boots, but have you tried thinking of that in a different perspective?"

    I think I'm too sympathetic half the time.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian TOFB's avatar
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    Somebody on the radio said a good way to get out of an argument, particularly a political argument, is to say, "last time I checked this is America", and walk away.

    I need to try that sometime.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Seabishop
    "I understand that you think my mother wears combat boots...
    Oh my God!!! I have not heard that in 15-20 years! LOL

  8. #8
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    I'm fond of a few very useful catch-phrases which tend to make people feel good about their points of view, but also get them to discuss rather than polarize an argument. It takes a bit of ego-control, but it works 9 times out of 10...

    "You probably know more about this than I do, but..." with assorted variations like "You have probably already thought about this, but..."

    "Perhaps you can help me understand something..." this followed by a careful wording of an opposing viewpoint.

    When I'm fed up, I like "Its not that I disagree with your opinions, they're just wrong..."

  9. #9
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by wahday
    "Perhaps you can help me understand something..." this followed by a careful wording of an opposing viewpoint.
    Also known as 'reflective' or 'active' listening - by repeating the other person's arguments, it reinforces the impression that one is really listening and understanding another's p.o.v. Suddenly folks become calmer and keep more open minds when they feel there's reciprocity.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  10. #10
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister
    As planners dealing with many different and often conflicting interests, we find ourselves in the positions of being adversaries, mediators, and allies. What methods do you, or others you know, use to most efffectively build consensus or win others to your way of thinking?
    I think you touch on a very important subject. Personally, I view planners as being facilitators, mediators, etc., rather than as some type of technician or designer.

    Personally, I think it is crucial to use sympathy. If someone truly believes that you are sympathetic with their reasoning, they will be much more open to your ideas and/or your objections.

    I really think that the best planners are those that are able to manipulate (if I may use that word) the opposition.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

  11. #11
    Cyburbian el Guapo's avatar
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    http://www.thingsmygirlfriendandihavearguedabout.com/

    If this doesn't sum up existance and the wheel of life I don't know what would.
    el Guapo is a former 20 year +/- urban planner (just like you) who thought becoming an attorney was a good life choice.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian el Guapo's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis
    Mahatma Gandhi said that three-forths of the miseries and misunderstandings in the world will disappear if we step into the shoes of our adversaries and understand their standpoint.
    Giff said something about taking the guys shoes and running away. And that old Indian dude got shot so who you gonna listen too?
    el Guapo is a former 20 year +/- urban planner (just like you) who thought becoming an attorney was a good life choice.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by el Guapo
    Giff said something about taking the guys shoes and running away. And that old Indian dude got shot so who you gonna listen too?
    Its a damn good thing I emptied my bladder just moments before logging on.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian AubieTurtle's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister
    Also known as 'reflective' or 'active' listening - by repeating the other person's arguments, it reinforces the impression that one is really listening and understanding another's p.o.v. Suddenly folks become calmer and keep more open minds when they feel there's reciprocity.
    A former employer use to do that. The problem was that all they ever did was repeat back the employee's concerns without addressing them. So people would feel good for long enough for the exec to make a quick exit and then go back to being upset that the issue wasn't resolved. This is also the company whose president told me that he wasn't asking me to lie to clients but to just "finesse the truth".

    Active listening can be put to good use to keep a conversation from developing into an argument but it shouldn't be used as a trick to avoid the primary issue.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Since Bear is reviving old threads tonight, I thought I would too.

    I learned a lot about being diplomatic when I was seeing doctors twice a week who were saying kind, loving things like "We can't find anythng physically wrong with you. Would you like to see a psychiatrist." Since I was at death's door, avoiding the conflict by just not going to any more doctor's appointments wasn't a viable option. Since I needed them to actually be helpful, letting them know what disrespectful and moronic %&*(^&*&^*() .....etc.....%^&*(&( they were also wasn't a viable option. Being between a rock and a hard place, with my life at stake, I was somewhat motivated to find effective means to communicate with them in a manner which got results. I doubt I could distill what I learned into a single post, but some of what I learned is posted here.

    I further refined my diplomatic skills by going down In Flames in public forums during 22 months of withdrawal from a sh*tload of medication that was absolutely necessary to save my life. Although I still carry a few burs about how some folks were not supportive, were very unforgiving, etc. and I wish they would cut me some slack, a lot of people were very compassionate and patient with me and I generally had sympathy for people who were very hurt when things didn't come out the way I wanted them to. I wrote a few eloquent, sincere apologies during that period.

    Again, I don't think I could distill what I learned during that time into a single post. But I generally agree with Ben Franklin and Gerry Spence. As far as Gerry's point of view, there is a saying about "the first person who names a number loses" when it comes to negotiating a price. Similarly, I think as soon as you allow the other person to frame the argument, you have lost. They will almost always frame it in terms of "My position is X and your position is Wrong (no matter what it is, unless you agree with me 100%)." Unless you can manage to successfully reframe the argument, you are already basically done for.

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