7 Science-Backed Strategies For Winning Almost Any Dispute

by Kristine Fellizar
BDG Media, Inc.

Whenever you're dealing with other people, conflict is inevitable. The reality is, you can't win or be right every single time. But there are some science-backed strategies you can try to win almost any dispute you're in.

Wanting to be right all the time is pretty much human nature. However, there are a few things to keep in mind before you go off and start winning every argument you're in. As Nance L. Schick, attorney and mediator, tells Bustle, your focus should never be about dominating others. There's nothing wrong with winning, but any strategies you use shouldn't "demonize" the other party. It should never be about making someone else feel bad. "Not only is this unfair to the other person, who is just as human and fallible as you are, but it can also set you up for a lot of disappointment and self-punishment if you don’t 'win,' within some arbitrary definition of winning," she says.

You're going to have arguments with all kinds of different people throughout your life. But there are right ways to win and resolve disputes, and there are wrong ways. Fortunately, researchers have found some strategies you can use in order to win almost any argument you're in. So here are some of those science-backed strategies.


Lower The Pitch Of Your Voice

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A 2016 study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that lowering the pitch of your voice can make you more persuasive. Researchers took over 90 university students and recorded them as they participated in a debate. As it was found, people who lowered the pitch of their voice as they gave their argument were rated as more influential than those who didn't. They also had more people rallying around them and their ideas. According to researchers, people of all voice pitches have the "power to persuade." It's not about how high or low your voice is initially. People who lower their pitch while they're making a point just come off as more convincing.


Make Eye Contact

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In order to win, it's important to stand your ground. Don't allow the other person to sway you from your argument. If someone's trying really hard to make you see things their way, make direct eye contact as you listen to them. As a 2013 study published in the journal Psychological Science found eye contact can actually make people more resistant to persuasion if they already disagree. Participants who focused on the speaker's eyes were found to be less receptive to their opposing views, were more closed off to interaction, and were more difficult to persuade overall.


Agree With The Person You're Arguing with

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Sometimes agreeing can be the key to winning. A 2014 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that "paradoxical thinking" can help to change another person's attitude. When you use this tactic in a dispute, you would agree with someone's point of view but exaggerate it or take it to the extreme. For example, if your friend is so set on the idea that they're never going to meet anyone romantically, encouraging them to stay positive isn't going to help. Instead, paradoxical thinking can help to pull them out of that rut by challenging their "set" beliefs. So instead of disagreeing with them, try agreeing with them ("You're right. Just stop trying. You're definitely ending up alone"). Although it's not something they want to hear, this statement will make them re-think their point of view and will make them much more receptive to yours. This tactic has been proven to work for resolving conflicts, promoting peace, and getting people to quit smoking.


Use "Social Proof"

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Social proof is a psychology-based concept coined by psychology professor, Robert Cialdini. This basically says that we're more likely to change our behaviors just because we see other people doing it. It's the reason behind why celebrity endorsements are so popular. For instance, if a celebrity that you admire swears by a particular product, you're going to try it out yourself just because they say it's good. According to Cialdini, social proof is one of the best tactics to use if you want to persuade others and win disputes because it uses our natural tendency to conform to the ideas of others. It's really effective to use if you cite someone that the person you're arguing with admires or trusts.


Understand Your Opponent's Argument And Reframe It

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It's challenging to get someone to see things your way. But reframing their points can be the key. In a 2015 study published by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, behavioral scientists wanted to find the best way to deliver political arguments to those with opposing beliefs. As they found, reframing an idea can help people to see things another way. For instance, liberal leaning participants of the study were more on board with the idea of same-sex marriage when it was framed to emphasize fairness. On the other hand, more conservative participants agreed with it when researchers emphasized that same-sex couples were "loyal, patriotic Americans." In order to win a dispute, you can take the other person's point of view and reframe it.


Mirror The Other Person's Body Language

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If you want to easily connect with others, mirroring their body language and matching the way they're speaking is an easy way to do it. This should happen naturally with people you like, and shows that you're forming an emotional connection. But if you're in the middle of a dispute, you can use this to your advantage. A 2016 study found that mimicking another person's behavior, without them noticing, can get them to see your side. They'll feel like they're connecting with you, so they'll be more open to hearing you out and seeing things your way.


Be Confident

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Sometimes it's not always about the facts. A 2013 study published in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes found that people listen to others who act as if they know what they're talking about. When it comes to problem-solving, the study found that people unconsciously gravitate towards those who seem like experts, even if they're really not. It all comes down to confidence. It's easy to doubt your argument when the other person seems to have unwavering confidence in theirs. So even if you aren't the smartest person in the room, your confidence can sway others to see things your way.

You may not win every argument you get into. But if you try any of these science-backed strategies, you'll have a pretty good shot.