How to win an argument
(Without losing ones temper or raising one’s voice)
Life on earth is a valuable thing. Valuable, as in aspects of it are studied, examined and observed for further development. The other side would imply the possibility of trashing, neglecting or destroying these ideas. There seems to be a struggle to create or resolve these simple to complicated facets of human existence. Issues upon issues manufactured and formulated by human mind have these hungers for relevance and just meanings. A solitary idea would be locked down in the very corridors of one’s mind if not made to solicit and unable to have a peek of reality. Realization and actual existence of these products of the mind are left useless unless brought out and shared with others who in turn relates or objects to its being. If a person’s ideology or reasoning isn’t expressed in reality or having some external factors work for it, its nature will remain the same. We should be grateful to our forefathers for coming up with the methods of putting into our notions to reality. One of the reasons that we should be glad for is the power to communicate. The others would be our being able to understand or comprehend. It is through these factors that our ideas as human beings are shared, exchanged and harnessed. But as everything has its other side, we cannot do away with the fact that not all of these ideas that are constantly flowing on our minds are acceptable and considered the right classification of what we had in mind. Most often than not, our daily human encounters involve simple to complex sharing and exchange of ideas. These events are most likely to get intertwined to the point that confusion and unvalued meanings or explanations occur in proving our point. This is what we commonly know as “arguments” or simply an “argument”.
Basically, the above-stated terms would also adhere to the meaning of just plain reasoning. It is a more “specialized” or “customized” way of reasoning as it is fundamentally formed to reply or to answer a specific or a group of statements given on an exchange of ideas. On our case at hand, the argument that we are talking about is that flow or exchange of ideas between two or more individuals. The argument that we are looking at is that which we commonly get into in our daily lives. It can be more specifically defined or clearly explained as that “battle of wits” we normally see and get into perhaps every single day of our thinking and existing lives.
Arguments are vital to us as individuals. It is through them that we gauge either our personality, degree of knowledge and effectiveness when it comes to dealing with all kinds of people. Arguments are either verbal or non verbal in nature. We can either argue while speaking or put into writing anything that comes into our mind that we want to argue. But the gauging point here to signify our level of arguing is our ability to connect, understand, affect and triumph a simple to a more complex of arguments. Winning an argument is possible if our minds and personalities are well equipped with the necessary tools.
Most often than not, the implication or the notion that the word “argument” brings is something negative. It further brings into mind that someone is into a fight when we speak of getting or involving one’s self into an argument. The word argument and being into it connotes conflict, battling issues and crossfire which commonly lead to a barrage of unpleasant sights and sounds – curses, broken tempers and loud voices that seem to assert something or simply being mad or annoyed in dismay. Winning an argument does not necessarily mean that you have to couple with loosed temper and a loud mouth. There are actually more ways than one in order to win an argument than suiting yourself with the unnecessary attitudes or behaviors.
I. Readiness – Obviously, arguments are either planned or not but whatever way these problems approach or came rushing towards you, being ready to face and tackle it won’t drive you on the loosing end quite easily. Bear into mind that arguments are bound to happen and the getting into them is always a possibility. In short, always expect the unexpected or try to expect the worst. What better way to handle these than programming your mind and body every single day to be always ready in these kinds of unnatural and abrupt situations. Losing an argument sometimes can be blamed for lack of one’s readiness. Simply picture yourself as a soldier inside your camp amidst a war and your presence at field is being called upon. You obviously would not go out without your armaments and other protection, would you?
II. Knowledge – It may look so easy but apart from being ready there are other factors to be considered. You must be armed with the proper knowledge. It is quite a sad fact that the lack of knowledge leads to one being able to triumph an argument and most people that are unaware of the things that is needed to be learned are the ones who suffers and losses the argument battle most.
Proper reasoning on an argument would also require one’s knowledge of your opponent. It’s a clear advantage if you are able to argue your opponent’s statements by having some knowledge of the faults or errors that he commits along the way. Being logical equates to a step or two ahead of your adversary. People who have knowledge or have used these things unconsciously hide their errors in their statements to make it appear so convincing and true. Being able to know how to use them will somehow work and aid you in winning that argument. In this regard, a small glimpse or understanding of a fallacy or fallacies thrown unto you will make you well armed and eventually win that argument.
Fallacies are words or statements that are drawn or laid down to simply immediately draw one’s attention or to try catching one’s idea and somehow logically formatting those to result as true, when in reality they aren’t. The process of getting these fallacies involved in arguments are eluding most of the time. It is more of “shortcutting” its way to prove a point or statement.
According to the book “How to Win Every Argument” by Madsen Pirie, fallacies are generally classified into two major types. Fallacies are, according to Pirie, are either formal or informal. Formal fallacies are formed in such a way that the structure of an argument is greatly affected by the lack of or missing logical information. It destroys itself for the inability to solidify a chain of reasoning.
The informal fallacies are fallacies that are more likely to be seen and distinguished closely since most of them are do not contain that much weight and emphasis with regards to logical reasoning. Those are sometimes “out of the question” or simply not that co-related to its line of reasoning. The book further classifies informal fallacies into linguistic, omission, intrusion and presumption types.
Kinds of fallacies – For purposes of discussion, below are some of the many fallacies that one should have knowledge of before winning that argument:
A. Affirming the consequent – This is a type of a formal fallacy. As the name suggests, a statement or the line of argument becomes immediately fallacious by mere jumping or drawing out a conclusion that is a general type or kind of consequence in nature. Example: That guy’s body immediately transformed from a thin to a muscular one. These are the types who use steroids to gain that kind of muscle mass, therefore the man surely used steroids. The example is a clear case of committing the affirming the consequent fallacy for the conclusion merely affirmed or jumped to concluding without learning or identifying other more quantifiable and more closely related consequence.
B. Quatermino terminorum – this is another form of a formal fallacy. It is known as the fallacy of four terms. There are terms that are likely to be repeated on a two-line and conclusion types of arguments. Such repetitions of middle terms are present in the first two lines but nowhere to be found on the conclusion which makes it fallacious. A classic example of this would be: Peter is the father of Paul, and Paul is the father of John, therefore Peter is the father of John. What makes the example more obviously fallacious is the absence of a fourth term that should be present. The way that the argument is constructed shows a lack of a more logical term or information.
C. Amphiboly – This fallacy is of the informal linguistic type. A statement commits the fallacy of Amphiboly when its grammatical structure usually gives or connotes an obvious conception of a false conclusion. Example: The old woman I saw was on a shiny BMW. Man, she was so hot! Obviously, statements such as the former are completely fallacious in the sense that mere confusion is presented on a lack of additional information or the wrong usage of words or grammar. We are confusingly drawn to the word “she” as to who or what is being referred to as “hot”.
D. Ad Ignorantiam – As an informal relevance fallacy of omission, it is committed by imploring others to agree into something out of a statement that spells ignorance of or on the subject matter. Example: Since the class had no questions regarding the lesson, they are therefore ready for an examination. The example given states the lack of proof on the readiness of the class. Ignorance of more underlying factors should be known first on the reason for the class in having to ask no questions, would not relate to the fact that they are ready for an examination.
E. Ignoratio Elenchi – This fallacy falls under the informal relevance intrusion type. This fallacy is committed when the arguer deviate to conclusion which is totally irrelevant in nature. Example: How can you prove that I am responsible for the crime when I have already shown you copies of my passport stating that I was away when the crime happened? It seems like the statement is convincing at a stare but the conclusion given is not connected to the first argument at all. Again, the lack of information can be found as we can presume outright that the crime staged at that time was planned ahead of time or was ordered thru the use of modern means of communication such as a cellular phone or a pager. The conclusion is irrelevant.
There are various ways to prove if your worthy proponent is committing fallacies and there are also different types of them among those given above. Being able to be keen and wary of your exchange of ideas and information will enable you to easily locate a soft spot for your planned retribution or counter measure. Fallacies, as mentioned earlier, can also be beneficial to you in more ways especially if the one you are arguing to don’t know anything about it. Arguments can easily be won over them and won’t hurt you so much if you apply some well practiced ad ignorantiams or throw those amphobolies to your unlearned opponents.
III. Empathy – Individual connections that are based mostly on arguments and discussions should be “subjective” in a way. A more profound notion of this is being able to address an argument by empathizing with your opponent. In this manner, a well-planned and well executed words and actions are undertaken. Being able to put yourself in your opponent’s “shoes” and opening your mind to such a situation will enable you to understand the point or the reason where your adversary is coming from. This manner will also help you understand more deeply the facts and information being laid down on your argument. The possibility of losing one’s temper and the raising of one’s voice is minimized if you understand and “see” better your opponent. Empathy enables also to at least “personalize” your approach or attack in order to address such an issue.
IV. Control – This is quite a general factor in nature as having this attitude and properly executing it is a surefire way to win an argument. It is evident that unsettled or heated arguments stems from a party going out of control. Control should cover anger or temper, the choice of words and the “ego” or the willingness to win. Essential as the others, having to control yourself or being composed when on an argument lessens the possibility of conflict and maximizes the possibility of resolving the issue being argued. Anger must always take a backseat when having an argument. Always remember, you are arguing, not fighting. One must not necessarily heighten his voice in order to stress or to sound more assertive. Arguments are won with cooler and open minds. Having to loose your temper or raising your voice will resolve nothing but could only get the matter worse.
Looking for alternative means of self expression rather indulging one’s self into some furious argument is one way of controlling and winning your cause. You best express your feelings and drive a point when you write those things down if you feel afraid on getting into some argumentative battle. You can either stop or pause for a while to let everyone’s head to cool down before you argue a point. Hot heads only attract the negative thoughts and never invite any better and bright ideas.
Winning over an argument does not necessarily mean that you have the hotter head or you posses the louder voice. Being able to connect to the one you are arguing to or having able to meet at least halfway of your ideologies will surely earn you that well deserved respect and score you a victory over an argument. The sweeter taste of winning over an argument is by seeing or experiencing that your argued ideas somehow affected or made your expected influence over your adversary.
Source: “How to Win Every Argument” The use and abuse of Logic by Madsen Pirie.