Nothing is more satisfying than defending a point of view and winning an argument. However, sometimes it's a little difficult to come out on top - even more so when you know you're wrong and your opponent is smart and articulate. Fortunately, if that's your case, you can use a few tactics and strategies to successfully vouch for your opinions. Defend your false narrative and take all credibility from the other to win (even if it's not with the truth).
Method 1 of 3: Invalidating Your Opponent's Arguments
Step 1. Reject the validity of your opponent's information sources
If the person uses evidence and statistics in the discussion, do your best to invalidate the sources of that data. Say that the research was not broad enough, that the scholars were not honest, etc. Try to knock down the arguments so that your opponent can no longer use them.
You can also say that the organization or institution that did the research is culturally or politically biased
Step 2. Ask distracting questions
You can ask certain questions to take control of the conversation and make your opponent stutter. Use hypotheses to turn his arguments upside down, even if these hypothetical situations are unlikely to happen. Also, put the person's integrity and motivations in check so that they lose confidence in their opinion.
- For example: "What proof do you have that this is true?"
- Also ask a hypothetical question that is unrealistic, such as "If all men took paternity leave, imagine if everyone started having children just to take a paid vacation?!"
Step 3. Affirm your authority
Make it clear that you understand the subject at hand better and share your experiences with the person. The goal here is to give some sense of credibility to your arguments - and, to top it off, convince your opponent that they're correct, even if they're not true.
- Use your professional or social experience to vouch for your opinions.
- You can also use hypothetical or isolated situations, even if they don't have as much credibility.
- You can say something like "I used to work in a media outlet and I know how things are. I've been a journalist for two major newspapers in the last ten years and I understand the subject better than many people."
Method 2 of 3: Defending an Incorrect Viewpoint
Step 1. Study the facts of the discussion
If you think you're going to argue with someone, prepare beforehand. Research all aspects and viewpoints of the subject on the internet; that way, it will be easier to come out on top when the time comes. You can also use other people's statistics, documents and speeches as evidence of your opinions.
- Find and build on arguments or points of view that attest to your side of the discussion.
- Become familiar with conflicting points of view so you know what the other person is likely to say, so you can respond well.
Step 2. Redefine some concepts
Most discussions involve complex or abstract ideas that people don't always take into account. If you take some spectators by surprise, you can convince them that your vision is correct and gain allies.
You can try to redefine the discussion itself (or at least the facts adjacent to it)
Step 3. Manipulate statistics and facts to your advantage
Study the main arguments that oppose yours and find research and studies that can attest to them. Then think of ways to use those same statistics to convince your opponent that you're right.
For example, you can hold students accountable for the drop in grades in a particular school subject even though you know that, in fact, this drop is directly linked to a lack of resources and competent staff
Step 4. Deviate from certain subject guidelines
Understand how the person can invalidate your arguments and what questions you will not be able to answer and avoid these areas.
- For example, if you know that your theory of morals doesn't hold up to practical examples, give vague, more general-level answers to the person's questions.
- Sometimes changing the subject on objective and subjective levels can lead to different conclusions, even though you and your opponent know that only one can be right. If the discussion is about something subjective, take a more direct point of view - and if your opinion is clearly wrong, say that "opinion is not disputed" and that there is nothing "concrete" when it comes to a discussion.
Step 5. Don't lose your temper
Letting emotions take over during an argument can affect clear thinking, intensify a conflict, and even give your opponent the advantage. Control yourself, don't raise your voice, don't get carried away, and so on. The opposite is also true: if your opponent gets excited, the advantage will be yours.
If you start to get nervous, take a deep breath and use imagery to relax. Count from ten to zero in your head or repeat a specific word, such as "calm down."
Step 6. Don't take any false steps
If you give the slightest sign that you're wrong, the person can take advantage and exploit that weakness. To avoid this, repeat your arguments and don't give her room. The only time this is welcome is when the argument itself does not interfere with the conclusion of the discussion.
An example of an argument that does not interfere in the final discussion: "The prison system in Brazil does not help to resocialize prisoners, but it still punishes them"
Step 7. Redirect the conversation
If you start to lose the argument, shift your attention to something your opponent said or did before and take the focus off yourself. This is best when the topic at hand is personal. Try to think of a past situation that is similar to the current one and imagine something wrong the person did. Then turn the game in your favor again.
For example: say something like "You looked pretty angry when I kissed someone else. Is it because you did the same last year?"
Method 3 of 3: Entering into an Agreement with the Person
Step 1. Listen carefully to what the person says
Give the person your full attention and don't interrupt, disagree or judge what they say. Just say things like "Yes, I understand" and "Uhum" and try to interpret her words and perspective.
- You can also rephrase what the person says and ask them questions.
- Say things like "So you're saying you're angry because you work all day and don't like to see your house dirty when you get home?"
Step 2. Communicate your emotions
Talk to the person and explain why you feel this way. Tell why you felt you wanted to win the argument and how you see the whole situation. Even if you know you're wrong, it doesn't invalidate your emotions. If someone said something annoying and started a fight, explain yourself not to leave anything bad behind.
Step 3. Change your attitude
Understand why you want to win, even when you're wrong. Instead of thinking of interactions and discussions as defeats or victories, think about what a mutual agreement can do for your life and social relationships. When we win an argument with invalid arguments, the feeling of satisfaction ends sooner or later. In these cases, it's always better to think of topics that you really believe in.
Try to see the good in people. Instead of trying to defeat your opponent in an argument, look for the good traits in his personality
Step 4. Admit your faults and weaknesses
In order for the discussion to reach a resolution that is suitable for everyone involved, you have to understand why you want to win it. Often this is because we don't want to accept the truth or show weakness or vulnerability.
- Reaching an agreement or admitting a defect can feel better than "winning" an argument.
- Apologize instead of starting an argument when you know you're wrong.