How To “Win” Every Argument

The greatest advice you will ever receive! Plus, how to win any argument (sort of).
View Transcript (auto-generated)
00:01 okay welcome back before we get started
00:04 just two quick note I’m gonna be
00:05 referring to last week’s video a lot in
00:07 this one so if you haven’t seen that go
00:09 watch it now because there’s a lot of
00:11 nuance that I talked about you’ll
00:13 probably want before continuing here
00:14 yeah last week a lefty with this big
00:17 cliffhanger how to win any argument how
00:21 to win all of the arguments with your
00:23 friends and family and neighborhood
00:24 about moral debate and politics and all
00:28 that that was the big promise and that
00:31 was mmm bit of a fib maybe you know not
00:35 why I’ll give you this is similar but
00:40 the thing is you can’t win these
00:43 arguments this is what we talked about
00:44 last week is that is that when you get
00:46 into an argument like this there is no
00:48 winning because you’re not talking about
00:50 the thing you think you’re talking about
00:52 you’re talking about whether or not
00:53 you’re an okay person so there’s no
00:55 backing down from that so you can’t win
00:59 those whoa we are going to talk about is
01:01 a way to turn arguments like that into a
01:05 win-win for both people which my mind is
01:07 even better but before you do that I’m
01:11 going to give you my opinion my humble
01:15 opinion probably the best advice anyone
01:18 will ever give you in your entire life
01:19 already is this whenever you find
01:22 yourself in a situation in life or in a
01:26 relationship where you think you only
01:29 have two options that means that you’re
01:33 stuck and you need to back up and look
01:36 for another option probably way
01:39 different than the two that you thought
01:41 you had that’s it that’s the best life
01:44 you’ll ever life advice you’ll ever get
01:45 let me explain what it means we’ll take
01:48 this arguing example let’s say that
01:51 you’re in a heated political debate with
01:54 a partner and you know that this thing
01:59 is happening that I talked about last
02:00 week which is your your
02:03 identity is involved and it’s all
02:05 wrapped up in all of the facts that
02:06 you’re actually citing and and you’re
02:09 just like this nobody to make any ground
02:10 that’s that’s when you stop because in
02:13 your mind you want to think to yourself
02:15 I only have two options here one is I
02:18 convince them that they’re wrong the
02:20 other is well they convince me that I’m
02:23 wrong
02:23 neither of those is ever gonna happen
02:25 those are two terrible options here’s
02:28 the third option right we’re back way up
02:31 and we gave ourselves a third option
02:32 which is I’m going to stop trying to
02:38 convince them that I’m right
02:39 and I’m going to not have to believe
02:41 that they’re right that’s the third
02:44 option sounds simple let me break it
02:45 down a little bit if we if we know that
02:49 we are doing this this weird human thing
02:52 that we do where identity gets wrapped
02:56 up in our argument what we want to do is
02:58 just say you know what I’m smarter than
02:59 that I’m not gonna fall for this trap
03:01 and play this game I’m gonna number one
03:03 I’m going to drop my need to be right
03:06 because in that moment it feels like a
03:08 need fulness that we’d be right in that
03:11 argument we’re gonna just recognize that
03:13 we do that crazy thing and let it go
03:16 number two now that we don’t have to
03:18 prove we are right we don’t have to
03:20 prove anything about us we can actually
03:24 go over there and say hey I’m not gonna
03:26 try to convince you I’m right anymore
03:27 why don’t you tell me really what you
03:30 think and I’ll actually listen to you
03:31 rather than try to convince you that
03:34 you’re wrong I’m gonna take in all of
03:36 the things that you were telling me and
03:38 I’m gonna try them on and I’m gonna
03:39 Tromp around in your shoes for a little
03:41 while very important care that you don’t
03:44 have to believe them Aristotle has this
03:48 great quote it is the mark of an
03:50 educated mind to entertain an idea
03:54 without believing it and this is the
03:56 challenge I’m gonna give you try on
03:59 their idea you don’t need to believe it
04:02 you don’t need to think it’s true you
04:04 don’t need to tell them you think it’s
04:05 true all you need to do is listen to
04:07 what they’re saying and the more that
04:09 they can tell you what they’re saying
04:11 and not how to fighting it against
04:14 fought against the more they get
04:17 drop the fight on their side also and
04:20 this is huge
04:21 you dropped the fight they dropped the
04:23 fight all of a sudden our identities
04:25 aren’t involved anymore it might be that
04:29 for the first time this person feels
04:31 really understood by you again you don’t
04:33 even have to say I believe you
04:36 in order to say I understand you and
04:39 this is a big deal for a lot of people
04:41 most times we just get into arguments
04:44 and fights and it’s just it’s nothing
04:46 other than you’re wrong you’re wrong
04:48 you’re wrong it’s rarely let me hear
04:51 what you’re actually saying when we can
04:55 do that for other people they can drop
04:57 their fight and what happens isn’t isn’t
05:00 that somebody is convinced the other
05:02 side is right that never happens what
05:05 happens is rapport is built up and the
05:07 relationship is tended to this is where
05:11 the win-win comes in you don’t have to
05:14 convince them you’re right they don’t
05:16 have to convince you they’re right that
05:17 never works anyway but by dropping your
05:20 need to be right and listening to their
05:23 side without taking it on then all of a
05:26 sudden the relationship is fostered
05:29 intended to we all come out of a feeling
05:33 a little bit better instead of a little
05:35 bit worse and oftentimes what happens
05:38 actually is that sometimes when once the
05:41 other person has had their full-on say
05:43 and they’ve they know that it’s it’s
05:45 been heard they’ll actually come over
05:48 and say okay thank you you heard me why
05:51 don’t you tell me what your opinion is
05:52 and I’ll try to get your side in the
05:53 same way that that gift kind of goes
05:55 back and forth so this is this is the
05:58 big this is a big reveal all right this
06:00 is the how-to the way you win an
06:03 argument isn’t to beat the other person
06:06 down and convince them that they’re
06:08 wrong the way you win is to let go of
06:10 your need to be right listen to them and
06:13 pull them into relationship that way the
06:18 relationship wins which sounds really
06:20 hokey and I almost didn’t want to say it
06:22 but it’s true the relationship wins the
06:24 relationship is tended to and you
06:27 understand their point of view
06:28 often they will come around and try to
06:29 understand your point of view and
06:31 nobody’s convinced that the other person
06:33 is right but everybody feels a little
06:35 bit better about life this is what
06:37 happens when you can let go of the idea
06:39 that there are only two options and back
06:41 up and look for a third so that’s it
06:44 please try this out go pick a fight with
06:48 with some of your most contentious
06:51 people and in try this out say you know
06:53 what I normally talk to you and talk
06:56 down to you and try to convince you
06:58 later you’re wrong
06:58 I actually just tell me I’m gonna listen
07:00 to it just tell me what what it’s like
07:03 please try that and let me know put it
07:05 in the comments below send me an email
07:07 let me know how this works thank you so
07:10 much

If you didn’t see the last post or watch that video, please check it out here.

Last week’s post was titled “Wait, why are we fighting?” Have you ever gotten in an argument when one of you stopped short and asked that? What happened there?

What happens is we get stuck on needing to be right. In an argument, something human-funny happens where at some point, the argument stops being about making your point and expressing your option. Instead, the dynamic shifts to both of you needing to be right because you have started defending your identity and humanity rather than your rational position.

Only 2 Options

In this dynamic there are only 2 options:

  1. I’m right and you’re wrong.
  2. You’re right and I’m wrong.

And given that we’re defending our identity and our right to be OK humans, these two options turn into this:

  1. I have to convince you that I’m right
  2. I have to admit to you and myself that I’m a bad person

Always More Options

Here is one of the best pieces of advice I will ever give you: Train yourself to notice when you only see 2 options in a situation. This is where we feel stuck in relationships and life. Step back and find a 3rd option. (or 4th, 5th…).

Train yourself to notice when you only see 2 options in a situation. This is where we feel stuck in relationships and life. Step back and find a 3rd option.

Here is the 3rd option: First, let go of needing to be right. Second, you don’t have to agree with the other person. There is a great quote attributed to Aristotle: “It is the mark of an educated mind to entertain an idea without believing it.” This is what I’m going to ask you to do.

If you don’t need to be right, then you don’t to prove myself. You don’t have to defend yourself or your identity anymore, so you don’t have to argue.

And if you don’t have to believe the other person right, then you can go step into their shoes and really see what their world is like. You don’t have to believe any of it, but if you deeply listen to them, then then they don’t feel like they’re fighting to hold their ground either. This can be very disarming. They get to have their opinion without any fear that they’re a bad person and let go of the fight as well.

More Choices

You now have more choices.

You can continue to defend yourself and your identity.
You dis-identify with the argument and move back up the conversational ladder to speak on the level of content again.
You can listen to them.
You can not listen to them.

But as long as you’re aware of this dynamic, then you’re not stuck in a situation where you are either defending identity or being a bad person. And offering this to another can be a gift to help them know they are a good person too.

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Tim has been practicing and teaching interpersonal relations and communications skills since 2006. He leads the esteemed Boulder T-Group community and has taught circling and relational leadership for the Integral Center and C4 Institute.


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