5 ways to win more arguments
Do you ever get into arguments? Perhaps you and someone at home don’t agree about who should do how much housework and when. Or you and a colleague disagree about the best way to tackle a new project.
Culled from psychological research, here are 5 straightforward tips to winning more arguments.
1. Check your emotional state
Strong emotions such as anger, sadness or excitement may impair your ability to negotiate. If you are feeling any strong emotions, back away from having a discussion.
Ask to take a break. Go do something else. Leave it for a few minutes, hours or days – whatever it takes. If you want a productive discussion, wait until you can do so in a calm or even positive and hopeful manner.
2. Think and feel the other person’s point of view
Before going into a discussion, spend at least a few minutes thinking about what the other person is both thinking and feeling. For example, one of the most successful sales people I know spends several minutes before a customer meeting writing down bullet points about what he thinks may be on his customer’s mind.
So take a few minutes to scribble notes to just a couple of questions:
- What is this person thinking about in terms of what he or she wants? What are his goals and objectives?
- What is this person feeling right now? Worry, excitement, anger, guilt or what else?
People sometimes say that they do this in their heads. But trust me: the best way to structure your thinking is by writing down notes in answer to these questions.
Remember that other people have different points of view. Those points of view may be wrong. But you can only begin to change their mind when they feel that you understand their thoughts, feelings and concerns.
So begin by asking questions to establish what the other person thinks about a topic. “How do you think things are going with us at home at the moment?” “How well do you think our project team is performing?”
It takes time to listen to other people. But if you really want to win them over to your way of seeing things, you will stop talking and allow more time for listening.
4. Break out of bad patterns
If you are going backwards and forwards and backwards and forwards, consider changing something in the discussion. Take a break. Suggest going for a walk outside together. Recommend that the two of you try to brainstorm crazy, alternative solutions. Invite a third person to add a new point of view. Suggest working together on a completely different issue for a while. Just do something different to break out of circular or unproductive thinking.
5. Work on a solution jointly
It’s natural to go into a discussion with a strong idea of what you want to get out of it. But if you want the other person to follow through on what you agree (rather than just nodding along but then ignoring you later), the two of you should ideally choose a solution or plan of action together.
So don’t say “I think you should…” or “I want us to…” Instead, try explaining the situation and then asking: “Given this situation, how could we stop this being a problem in the future?”
And if you want more advice on winning arguments, do check out the keywords influence and persuasion. Or consider picking up a copy of How To Win: The Argument, the Pitch, the Job, the Race.