JR Lopez Gonzales 11:33 AM 0
There sure is a lot of arguing everywhere – which is great.
Debates help us generate more knowledge and help move issues forward. And as funny as this may sound, arguing helps us reach the ultimate goal of understanding each other.
Whether in a debate competition, in a classroom discussion, or in a simple colloquy with a friend, arguing is an enjoyable skill that can be developed.
Having debated in the university and law school, here’s my Top 10 tips on how to argue better:
10 – Define the Terms, First.
Whether face-to-face or internet word wars, the basic truths in a debate have to be established first. A good illustration of defining the fundamentals is St. Thomas Aquinas’ classic work, Summa Theologica. In it, Aquinas starts with the basic points, presents arguments and rebuttals, and moves on with each point as backed by logical statements.
9 – Get Your Facts Straight.
Do not state that something is correct unless you absolutely know it. Engage to argue only if you know you can win based on facts – do not make up arguments on the fly.
8 – Never Veer Away from the Topic.
Auto-pilot your arguments anchored on the original topic. Do not get entangled in a whole new debate. Remember to complete the first topic before giving time to the smaller ones.
7 - Don’t tell your opponent that he (or she) is “wrong”.
Instead, show him why he is wrong through good counter-arguments.
6 – Look for Points of Convergence.
Get the other side to agree with you by making agreeable statements. It may be a statement of fact not exactly related to the debate – and this will help you win the psychological aspect of the debate.
5 – Do not be Afraid to Ask Questions.
We learn this in law school: the “Socratic Method”. When your opponent makes a statement of fact, inquire deeper by asking questions which are designed to expose its weakness. Asking them for examples is a good way of digging their version of truth.
4 – Avoid Ad Hominems.
Do not resort to name calling by attacking their person. Compelling arguments are the keys to winning – not by insults. Attacking their grammar, or spelling, is not a good idea, either. If the other side does attack your person, congrats, you’re close to winning.
3 – Keep Your Cool.
You should not raise your voice when you argue. Be remain calm at all times. You can’t win debates by being the louder one in a yelling match - it is won by the person with the most convincing arguments. Especially on the Internet, do not let your emotions get you. Refrain from using all caps and save it only in emphasizing a certain point.
2 – Know When to Keep your Mouth Shut.
After making a strong argument, you may let your opponent do all the talking. They may actually give in just to get out of an uncomfortable situation of silence. Many arguments have been won by NOT arguing anymore.
1 – Concede if You Lose.
Be graceful in defeat; be polite and concede the win. There will always be a time when your opponent gets the better of you – but don’t worry – there’s always another debating day. Humility shows that you are a worthy opponent even if you lose, and being graceful in defeat is something that is always appreciated.