To Win an Argument – The Eloquent Tantrum

February 9, 2012


While there are many effective ways to get one’s point across, the act of changing a mind or portraying a controversial idea takes a refined tone and a quick tongue. Winning is one thing and can be done often by merely refusing to sway in one’s stance. Winning with dignity, however, is an art form in and of itself and can only be done by those well practiced in the area.

The following includes instructions and tips to help begin your learning in the art of eloquent argument.

1. Posture is Key.

When maintaining one’s stance it is important to recall the physical implications of the word. Standing is better than sitting when arguing and neither should be carried out with a slouch. A strong, straight back will show that you have no plans to change your view and implies that you are not to be taken lightly. In addition to this, it is advisable to take the higher ground. If your opponent is sitting in a chair, sit on a desk. When they sit on a desk, stand up. A taller stance gives a sense of confidence and implies power.

2. Begin with Gesture and Emphasis.

When starting an argument or debate in which you are emotionally involved, it can be easy to freeze physically and place all thought on your verbal points. It is important, however, to begin with definitive gestures to articulate your point. This move, though, should not be carried through the entire discussion. More on this will follow.

3. Know Your Aims.

Nothing is quite so amusing as someone trying to argue without knowing what they stand to gain, and nothing so embarrassing as arguing without a cause. When you begin an argument you should be able to articulate your standpoint in a few sentences. By doing this you can keep the discussion moving in the direction you desire instead of fumbling for a foothold amongst the words.

4. Be Aware of Your Eyebrows.

Timing is everything here. The properly placed raised brow can be severely debilitating, particularly if this move takes your opponent off guard. The condescension implied with an eyebrow raising, however, will not affect a well seasoned disputer, so use this sparingly and aim it toward those less aware of the subtleties of argument.

5. Eye Contact.

Many people in today’s technology-oriented society have developed the tendency to avoid eye contact. This intimate moment makes the average person feel insecure and taken aback. This will unsettle any introverted debaters and give you an advantage – fair or not is another story.

6. Say Nothing Unless Needed.

Endless blather serves only to lessen the worth of your words. If you cannot articulate your point, avoid using it. Speaking improperly or haltingly will ensure you appear undereducated and under prepared. Focus on getting across your main ideas and avoid losing yourself in fancy wording. That isn’t to say a well worded, debilitating retort is useless, just that it should be used only with the highest confidence behind it.

7. Avoid Foot Stamping.

Any petty moment is a moment of infinite weakness. As with other obvious outputs of frustration — an exasperated sigh or even eye rolling — stamping feet shows an inability to focus on the facts of the argument. By partaking in this infantile action you lose any pretence of maturity you have upstanding.

8. Cross Your Arms.

At the moment you have made your definitive statement toward the end of the argument, crossing your arms portrays a confidence and security difficult to articulate. A type of physical so-there, if you will. Borderline petty if over used, the crossed arms can also be employed for purposes of showing superiority. This, when put into practice properly, has the effect of checking your opponent. They could escape with another move, but will likely remain  debilitated, aiding your imminent success.

9. Compromise as a Last Resort.

Even the best disputers will come across a topic they are ill prepared for, and in rare cases may find themselves proven wrong. In this case it is best to save face and come to a compromise. Phrase your agreement in such a way that shows you still find your original opinion valid. A graceful retreat from an already lost battle will save you from any major loss of dignity associated with surrendering the fight.

10.  Know When to Walk Away.

Despite any amount of fact you posses it is inevitable that you will argue with someone unaffected by logic. There are instances where, though entirely and indisputably right by any level-minded account, your opponent will be incapable of giving up. Instances such as this can not be rectified and should be left alone. Recognizing when this is the case is an important part of dispute. Even though walking away is unsatisfying, it will save you from the copious amounts of stress associated with forcing logic on someone unable to see it.

By Raven Loucks

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