Do you get stressed out when someone disagrees with your point of view?
Do you struggle to keep a cool head when fighting with a friend or colleague?
Arguments are part of everyday life, but persuading someone of your opinion isn’t easy.
It takes effort and practice to master the art of staying calm, engaging with people when their views make you upset, and winning their respect.
Fortunately, if you remember these six rules, you’ll stand a much better chance of getting someone on your side:
1. First, show that you understand their perspective
No one likes to feel patronized or ignored.
If you don’t bother to learn what the other person is thinking or feeling, they will conclude that you are only interested in your point of view, which will make them shut down.
Ask open questions to gain further insight. For instance, “Why do you feel that way?”
is more effective than “So you feel mad, have I got that right?”
Paraphrasing and mirroring their ideas also demonstrates your understanding.
For example, if someone tells you that they are mad because you never do your share of the chores, you could say, “So from what I’m hearing, you are upset because you think I don’t do enough housework.
Is that right?”
2. Find common ground
If you can make the other person think you are working with them to find a solution, they will usually feel more inclined to cooperate.
Remember, you have at least one thing in common: You both want to get your own way.
Acknowledging this can help. Saying, “We both have strong opinions here, and we both want a quick resolution, right?”
can help both of you adopt a more constructive mindset.
You can then move to other areas of common ground.
For instance, suppose you are arguing about where to go on vacation.
You both have different countries in mind.
However, you may notice that you have both expressed an interest in visiting somewhere with a warm climate and the opportunity to go on scenic hikes.
Acknowledging these points can help you feel united in your search for a solution.
3. Remain respectful at all times
The moment you start shouting, swearing, or putting the other person down, you lose your credibility.
It doesn’t matter how objectionable their views or what they have done in the past; the fact remains that losing control will undermine both their impression of you and your self-respect.
If your temper is threatening to overwhelm you, call for a timeout.
Never make the mistake of speaking or acting in a condescending manner just because someone is younger or more inexperienced.
They have a right to their opinion;
it might even be better-informed than your own.
4. Focus on the “how’s,” not the “why’s”
For example, if you are having a political debate with someone, you are more likely to win if you can help them see faults in their own reasoning than if you merely rattle off a list of why you think they are wrong.
Asking questions like “So how would you put your views into action via new policies?” can help start a constructive discussion.
5. Draw on social proof
Humans are social creatures, and we are easily influenced by the views and behaviors of those around us.
We tend to operate under the assumption that if our peers, friends, or relatives hold particular beliefs, they are probably correct.
You can use this technique to your advantage during an argument by showing that lots of other people agree with your position.
For instance, if you are trying to persuade your friend that one make of car is better than another, you could point out that your preferred make has won several consumer awards.
Data will also strengthen your position, especially if you can present it as a graph.
Research shows that people are impressed by visual representations of data, possibly because they associate it with scientific research.
6. Combine your facts with confidence
Finally, appearing confident will help your case, even if you secretly feel intimidated.
Research shows that people tend to assume that confident individuals are more likely to be correct, and will adjust their own views accordingly.
When someone doesn’t know much about a topic, they will fall back on cognitive shortcuts in deciding who they should listen to.
The idea that confidence signals expertise seems to be hardwired into the human brain.
Keep your body language positive, and you’ll be more likely to succeed.