When to Engage in an Argument
When should you engage in an argument? Most people would prefer to avoid an argument if it can be helped. However, there are also moments when it becomes necessary to argue. While we can never really pinpoint the exact moments when we should engage in an argument or not, there are general instances where we can conclude that it becomes necessary to defend our position.
Argument becomes necessary when you are defending your honor. Our honor and dignity as persons is inherent in us—everyone possesses it because it comes with being human. This is why people are willing to go through the lengthy process of a court trial when they experience sexual harassment, abuse or any other form of violent behavior that assault their physical honor.
They also go to court and file libel against those who spread malicious lies about them. They are willing to spend a lot of money on lawyers just to be able to defend their honor. But you don’t need to go to court to be able to defend your honor. When someone assaults your dignity or spreads lies against you, you don’t take that sitting down, do you? You prove that they are wrong right then and there.
Another reason to engage in an argument is when you know that what you say is the truth. The truth is something that must be defended at all costs. This is why so many people have sought for and fought for the truth. Now that truth can come in many forms.
It could be the truth about a politically-charged issue or it could be the truth about a secret that has plagued a family for years. The truth can come in the form of a correct financial statement or it could be about what a witness has to say about who committed a crime. Regardless of what the truth is, it is something worth arguing about.
It is necessary to engage in an argument when there is a chance that it will result to the greater good. It is better to take a shot at argumentation than not do anything else if airing your thoughts will provide the best chance of accomplishing something better. If there is a probability that arguing will result to peace or to a better way of life then it will be well-worth the effort.
Winning an Argument
How important is winning an argument? Let’s not mince words here: Winning an argument is very important. In fact, people go into an argument with nothing else in mind except to convince the other party that they are right.
Some pummel their opponents until they finally submit while others resort to more subtle forms of persuasion. Because of the supreme importance placed on winning an argument, some people don’t bother to argue because they are too afraid that they might lose.
Unfortunately, not arguing is tantamount to losing. And if you don’t argue then you’re just accepting things as they are. This would not be a problem if no rights have been trampled upon or if the truth was told.
However, if there were dignities that have been smothered and lies that have not been exposed because of your silence then not speaking out for fear of losing is a cowardly thing to do.
First of all, you shouldn’t be afraid of losing an argument because you can win every time. You’re probably raising your eyebrows by now and snorting at the impossibility of this statement.
You’re probably saying, “What? Of course you can’t win an argument every time. That’s nonsense!” Well, you can. That starts by first defining what winning is. The dictionary defines winning as “gaining, resulting in, or relating to victory in a contest or competition.”
When swimmers compete in a swimming competition, for example, the fastest swimmer ends up the winner while the slowest ones end up wallowing in defeat. The concept of winning and losing is viewed this way for contests and athletic competitions.
For arguments, however, this is not how winning is viewed. Rather, winning an argument is being able to achieve the results you want. Now this does not always mean making the other side acknowledge that you are superior than they are—although that is probably the conventional way of thinking about this.
When you back down from an argument because you feel that it isn’t going anywhere without getting physical then you have still won. Why? You’ve won because you have achieved your purpose of living to argue another day when your opponent’s temper has cooled.
Now we claimed earlier that you can win an argument every time. This is true, especially if you understand the context with which winning should be viewed. Part of this is realizing that there are arguments that you just can’t win. This does not make you any less of a person nor does it belittle your abilities in any way.
Rather, understanding that there are prejudices, stereotypes or deeply-rooted beliefs that you won’t be able to fight against and knowing that retreat is the best option you can take under the circumstances still makes you the winner. You’ve won during these situations because proceeding with an argument that is futile right from the start would be foolish and unwise.
Practical Tips for Winning an Argument
While knowing when to pursue an argument and when to back down are going to lead to victory, there are also practical tips that you need to keep in mind if you really want to prevail in an argument. Here are some things to keep in mind:
1. Understand your purpose for proceeding with an argument.
One of the first things that you should think about before proceeding to engage in an argument is to understand why you are arguing in the first place. Your purpose will set the stage and tone for your argument as well as give you something to strive for. If your purpose, for example, is to convince the jury that your client did not do what he was charged with then you will make sure that your evidence is airtight and that you will strive to deliver the most convincing speech possible.
2. Get all the information you need.
The next step in winning an argument is to be prepared. Gather all the information you need about the matter at hand. Anticipate what the other side will say. Get your counter arguments ready. If you know what the other side is going to do or say then you’ve already won half the battle. Get to know your strengths and your weaknesses. Once you’re already prepared then you are better able to handle the arguments that are going to be thrown your way.
3. Be ready for areas when you know that you could possibly lose the argument.
If you have thoroughly prepared yourself for a potential face-off you’ll know that there are areas in your argument where you could potentially be routed by your opponent. You’ll have to anticipate these kinds of attacks and prepare for it accordingly.
4. Don’t argue with fact.
Facts are facts. They can’t be changed. This is why you must not argue with facts. Unless you are pretty sure that you have solid evidence to refute established facts then there is no sense in wasting your energy arguing about facts.
5. Be quick to spot inconsistencies.
When arguing, you should be quick to check for inconsistencies in the other side’s argumentation. These include things like stating one thing and then saying another a moment later, quoting something wrongly or interpreting what an authority said out of context.
6. Understand that each person argues about something because of a principle.
If you want to win an argument, you have to understand what the other person’s principle is. Why is the other party so adamant to defend a particular position? There is an ideology behind that, a principle. Otherwise, you won’t find such a passionate argument about it. When you understand the principle, you can better prepare a more persuasive argument to make the other person see the problem from your own point of view, your principle.
7. Listen to what the other party has to say.
The reason why the arguments we have these days turn out to be verbal slugfests that don’t have any resolution is because we are very poor listeners. We shout because we want to drown the other party with our voice. We want to dominate even simple conversations.
How will we know what the other person wants if we don’t bother to listen, if we always insist that we are always right? Whether you are arguing with spouse, your child, your boss, your classmate, your client or the customer service clerk at your local department store, the key to eventually winning is to listen to what they have to say. Once you know what they want then you will know how and where to bring the argument.
You might even be surprised to realize that you find yourself agreeing to what they have to say which will pave the way for a mutual resolution of the argument.
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