There's nothing more frustrating in life than coming up short in a heated discussion and parting ways knowing your opponent got the better of you. But this 'opponent' could be anyone, from your overbearing boss to your closest friend. Accomplished debaters, on the other hand, rarely end up on the losing side. They can win arguments by a simple, tried and tested formula that merely consists of believing in themselves and remaining cool under pressure.
Here, LifehackLane goes through some of the general dos and don’ts endorsed by famed psychologists that will generally put you on the winning side of an argument.
1. Remain cool and composed
Passion can be the driving force behind many great achievements, but learning to stay in command of your emotions and not get carried away is equally essential.
While you should project a certain amount of energy, going overboard and raising your voice can make you look less in control of the debate, even if what you're saying is valid.
2. Facts are everything
If you come prepared with a list of facts or happen to know any at the top of your head that can help with the argument at hand, use them as soon as you can. If you're debating an issue, surveys, statistics, and data from reputable organizations can shift a well-argued case into a debate -winning one.
3. Ask, ask, and ask
Remaining in the driving seat of the argument is the only way you'll come out trumps. So dictate the debate by controlling the course of the discussion and catching them off guard by asking them pressing questions. You might not even know the answers, but you'll have your opponent searching for what they think are the right answers.
Typical, ultra-effective examples include, "And what evidence do you have to support this claim?" and "Does it make you feel better knowing you've got that off your chest?"
4. Use common sense
While this may sound obvious, a debate can throw many of us off-course and have us scrambling for half-baked responses when all we should be doing is making sure we make sense! Your opponent will probably be hot and flustered, no matter how confident they are in themselves if you speak clearly and slowly, showing how one idea works better than the other.
5. Take the moral high ground
No, we're not suggesting you bow out gracefully and hand your opponent the win- far from it. What we're saying is that whilst logic can win an argument with sheer facts, using a few human emotions that appeal to your opponent's sensibilities will be hard to argue against. For instance, if you're debating gun laws with an NRA member, you could ask them, "Don't you agree, despite your fervent belief in the second amendment, that we should all work together to make this county a safer place for our children and children's children?"
6. Keep your ears tuned in
Sometimes, it's better to listen than open your mouth. This is a skill that the best debaters master after years of doing the exact opposite. By doing this, you will observe your opponent's inaccuracies and weaknesses, giving you a more compelling case when it's your turn to speak.
7. Don't be afraid to concede that they are right
The key to convincing your opponent that you are right and they are wrong is not to disagree and discredit every point they make. Doing that will only make them less inclined to see your perspective on the matter at hand. Instead, nod and agree- especially if they do make a compelling point- and then counter that with a different argument that makes an even better case. Doing this will show your opponent you are a reasonable person making them more inclined to side with you.
8. Study your opponent.
Get to know your opponent by taking a few moments to analyze their attributes and mannerisms. Do they stutter? And say the same things over and over? If you remain focused, you'll notice these things and will be able to use these things against them.
9. Don't be ashamed if the debate ends in a draw
You may feel morally and intellectually superior by coming out trumps in an argument, but be open-minded and try to compromise if you feel your viewpoints can coincide with theirs. You might not have bragging rights, but in many ways, coming to a mutual resolution is a win-win.
10. Refrain from personal matters
You may have seen Donald Trump attack Hillary's husband Bill Clinton in one of the most heated debates in recent memory- just like Clinton did with her Republican adversary, but this did nothing but expose both candidates as immature in an election race that became a circus act rather than a presidential election between two grown adults.
Attack the points at hand, but don't stoop low and attack the person themselves. If your opponent snaps and makes a series of personal tirades against you, react calmly by taking the moral high ground. After the dust has settled, your opponent will look back and regret saying what they did, and thereby likely conclude that you were right and they were wrong.