We’ve been getting in squabbles of one kind or another ever since our first “No I didn’t!” “Yes you did!” argument with Mom when we were 5. And for most of us, verbal battles are an unpleasant fact of life. Kind of like Ryan Seacrest… ever present, annoying and completely unavoidable.
But as many professional arguers (like attorneys and housewives), know, there are key strategies to winning any argument. So I spoke to Brett Reilly, Founder of InstantJury.com, the go-to site for settling squabbles over fantasy football, roommate issues or any other little thing that gets your dander up. (And if you don’t have a beef, but love getting involved in other people’s bidniss, you can sit on a jury, or be a judge. Hear that? It’s the sound of a million mothers-in-law logging on…)
Here are Reilly’s 9 top tips the best arguers use to win their cases:
1: Pick Your Battles.
This is the most important point of all. You don’t want to argue with a 6-foot 5-inch bouncer when he insists that you had too much to drink. That’s probably an argument you’re not going to win. Pick only the battles that you have a reasonable chance of winning.
2: What’s In It For Me?
Sometimes just knowing you’re right is justice enough but sometimes it pays to kick and scream to score those two first class tickets to Tahiti. The bigger the prize, the better your argument must be. Always know what you stand to win…and lose!
3: Stack the Jury.
You need to know who’s going to render the verdict before you start arguing. If you’re trying to make a case for watching Monday Night Football to a group of women holding a Sex and the City DVD, you probably won’t get many votes. Make sure you’re at least on a level playing field.
4: Just the Facts Ma’am.
If you don’t know the key points of your argument as well as your opponents, you’ll have a difficult time creating a sound case. Positioning your strong points against the holes of the opposition’s case will make for stronger case in your favor.
5: Find Some Red Hands.
Having irrefutable evidence helps make any case stronger. You can’t just cite your cousin Joey as saying “he thought so too!” Cousin Joey has no credibility, but a photo of the crime, an incriminating video, or a paper trail, will.
6: Check Your Emotions.
As much as you would like to reach across the table and rip out the opposition’s endocrine system with your bare hands, showing this type of emotion could hurt your case. Presenting your argument with a sense of calm shows maturity and garners respect and credibility. Wait ’til after the case is over to go curse like a sailor.
7: Don’t Be a Bully.
Maybe your opponent has some skeletons in their closet that have no bearing on the argument at hand. Don’t reveal them. Doing so looks petty and will only make you lose favor in the eyes of the jury. If you have your facts straight, they will be ammo enough.
8: Win With Pride.
Saying “I told you so” can feel soooo good. But biting your tongue and not saying anything at all will help you in the long run. No one likes a know-it-all. Don’t be one. Your opponent will know they’re wrong and your silence will be salt in the wound enough.
9: Lose with Dignity.
You can’t win ‘em all and you won’t. Don’t be discouraged. Replay the argument in your head and identify where you went wrong. Next time, play it differently.
[Got beef? Settle it over at InstantJury.com]