11 Subtle But Effective Ways To Win Any Argument
When you're disagreeing with someone, it can be tempting to try to win the argument by taking them down or shutting them out. But it's important to remember that getting the person to see your point of view is more about communicating effectively, than anything else. And while it can be tough to do at first, this is a definitely a skill worth working on, as it can come in handy in a variety of situations.
After all, "disagreements are inevitable and handling them well can make the difference between a relationship that strengthens over time and one that dissolves," Celeste Headlee, communication expert and author of We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations that Matter, tells Bustle. And that means not only making sure people understand you, but that you understand them, too.
You can, however, influence the way someone reacts to you — and maybe even help them to see your side — by using a few simple hacks. How you speak, how you hold yourself, and even what you say back to them can impact their reaction, as well as whether or not they'll be willing to compromise. With that in mind, read on below for some ways to win an argument and get your point across, according to experts.
1. Appear As Confident As Possible
Even if you're not feeling 100% confident — maybe because you're nervous, upset, or flustered — go ahead and pretend to be anyway.
"This may mean that you make eye contact, stand up straight, and speak clearly and calmly," Dr. Nicole Issa, founder of PVD Psychological Associates, tells Bustle. "If you appear confident, as opposed to nervous and uncertain, then others are likely to take you more seriously."
2. Stay Calm
Similarly, "make sure you are speaking at a normal rate and volume," Dr. Issa says, instead of yelling or saying too many things at once, as this will help you both stay calmer, and prevent the argument from going down a toxic road.
"If you need some time to regulate yourself, take a break to bring your emotional intensity down," she says. This might mean excusing yourself for a few minutes to stroll around the block, or get a drink of water.
Once you're feeling calmer, head on back and continue the discussion. But this time, notice how much easier it is to get your point across in a healthier way.
3. Stick To Your Point
In order to win an argument you'll want to stick to one clear objective, which means not allowing yourself to go down completely unrelated roads, Dr. Issa says, or dredging up things from the past.
This will only make the situation more confusing, while also weakening your main point. So if you feel yourself going off track, Dr. Issa suggests practicing mindfulness to refocus yourself, or taking a few deep breaths.
4. Don't Allow Yourself To Get Distracted
If you get distracted, "the person you’re arguing with may try to throw just about anything at you," Dr. Issa says, "and if you take the bait, the two of you will be off and running in a totally different direction before you know it." So no matter what they do or say, make a point of always circling back to original topic.
5. Use Their Name
If you want to influence the other person, or throw them off balance, go ahead and say their name a few times during the course of the argument. "People get drawn in by their name," clinical psychologist Dr. Cali Estes, tells Bustle. "Personalizing the argument for them forces their attention back on them."
This can distract them from placing blame on you, or projecting their ideas onto others. But it may also make them feel more connected to you, which can help you see eye-to-eye.
6. Say Something Nice
The last thing people expect when they're arguing is to hear the other person say something nice. But that's precisely while this little trick can come in handy.
"Say something nice or something you appreciate about the other person before you throw [the proverbial] arrow," relationship therapist Audrey Hope, tells Bustle. "This will soften the blow and help the person hear you."
7. Choose The Right Time & Place
While you could always have an argument in the middle of the sidewalk, it's much healthier and effective to calm down first and reconvene at a different time and place, professional coach Vanesa Osage, CPC, tells Bustle.
If you're arguing with your partner, for example, you may want to choose a location where you both feel comfortable, like a neutral coffeeshop or park bench.
By making an effort to choose a good place to argue, where you can both feel heard, the other person will be more likely to understand your point of view.
8. Repeat Back What They Said
No matter how heated the other person gets, keep your cool and repeat back to them what they're saying. You might say something along the lines of, "I hear that you're saying XYZ," before responding with your own thoughts, psychotherapist Catharine Blake, CDC, LICSW, tells Bustle.
Most people's number one desire is simply to be heard, she says. By showing that you're listening, and naming what they say, it may even help defuse the situation.
9. Point Out The Benefits
Is the other person refusing to come around, or being completely unreasonable? Then remind them how the request you are making might be beneficial to them. "Point out any positive outcome you can think of that would come from your request," psychotherapist Christine Scott-Hudson, MA, MFT, ATR, tells Bustle. And see how they react.
Would it improve your relationship? Will they get something out of the agreement? As Scott-Hudson says, "Show them how honoring your request is a win for them, too."
10. Look For The Kernel Of Truth
"Even if you absolutely, fundamentally disagree about something, there is always at least a tiny bit of truth to someone’s point of view," Dr. Issa says. And in order to "win" an argument, you'll want to try your best to find it.
"Try to find that kernel of truth by thinking about the other person’s point of view, their history, their motivation, or just listen to them and you are bound to hear something that you can validate," she says. "Once you validate them, they will feel heard."
And that can help you reach some sort of conclusion. "If they are able to hear that you understand their perspective and aren’t just interested in being right, but rather, actually have a legitimate point of your own," Dr. Issa says, "then you have a better chance of getting your point across and 'winning.'"
11. Be Willing To Compromise
"There’s no reason why you can’t [...] both 'win,' in a way," Dr. Issa says. So try to remain open to reaching a compromise.
"Ideally, a productive argument is solution-focused and figuring out what works best, and not about yelling over each other or beating the other person’s argument or point of view into the ground," she says.
Is there anything you can agree on? If so, zero in on that. And then try to agree to disagree, or reach some form of compromise. Because even though it feels really great to win an argument, it's really about hearing the other person out. This is, after all, the best way to have effective conversations.