How to Argue Effectively

You don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to.” — Anonymous

Arguments can be a challenge. We spend most of our time trying to convince other people; we believe that if we provide them with the information we possess, they will rationally come to the same conclusions that we did, but that’s not always the way it operates. 

Sometimes, we want to refrain from debating. We prefer to avoid it, but this doesn’t mean the issue will disappear. The resentment that is built up can endanger the relationship.

Everyone has a point; however, not all argue effectively. Constructive argument is an art, and an argument that’s well-crafted and properly handled can aid in improving relationships between couples, friends, and opponents. When things go wrong, disputes can turn into tense arguments. These kinds of arguments can be harmful and delay the resolution of issues that would otherwise help the individuals come up with a solution to move forward.

The ability to make arguments is a skill that needs to be developed and practiced.

What is an Argument?

An argument is a process of expressing an opinion or viewpoint on a subject and proving that point with evidence, such as studies, statistics, and examples. Although arguments can occur in various contexts, such as political debates, marketing campaigns, and even the business industry, it is more common for people working in fields that require research to acquire knowledge about their areas through arguments.

To do this successfully, academic philosophers specifically study the most effective way to present an argument and convince an audience of a particular point of view.

Argument: What is it?

This research focuses on the notion of logical reasoning or using a systematic set of steps to arrive at a conclusion. Logical reasoning begins with a precept leading to an argument and the formulation of evidence, allowing an audience to draw a conclusion.

When they present a rational argument, professionals can convince the audience to move towards forming a particular viewpoint. Learning to apply logic in a strategic manner can aid professionals from a variety of fields in becoming successful problem-solvers; from this, they can use critical thinking to navigate the complexities of communication, make informed choices, and inspire others.

Argument structures of different types

There are a variety of arguments. Most arguments fall into one of two primary categories based on the type of reasoning they present: inductive or deductive. Inductive reasoning is the process of drawing broad conclusions based on data gathered from specific situations.

In contrast, deductive reasoning refers to the act of supporting a larger conclusion with evidence from specific situations. While some arguments rely on both deductive and inductive reasoning, researchers and scientists frequently employ deductive reasoning to explain their findings and support or disprove an idea with absolute certainty.

In general, in order for the argument of a person to become convincing, it should follow an organized format that the audience can easily follow. In this regard, there are three primary kinds of structures to be considered when making an argument:

Toulmin method

It is an argumentative framework that was first described by the writer Stephen Toulmin. The method is focused on proving the different claims that make up an argument by using factual evidence. The Toulmin method follows the following format:

Claim: An explanation of a general claim or the basis of the argument

Evidence: Submission of evidence in support of the above assertion

Bridge: Discussion of evidence and the connection of the evidence to your claim

Foundation: Presentation of further reasoning or logic that strengthens the connections made by the bridge

Counterclaim: Discussion and anticipation of opposing points of view

Rebuttal: To disprove the counterclaims by using evidence

Classical method

It is believed that the Greek philosopher Aristotle first outlined the classic method. Others, such as the Roman rhetoricians’ Cicero and Quintilian, later came up with the technique. The method is based on the precise definition of arguments and the argumentation that allows viewers to draw conclusions quickly. The classic method follows the following format:

Introduction: A brief overview of the issue and a description of its significance.

The background: discussion of important facts that give historical context for the subject to enhance the understanding of the audience.

Proposition: Argumentative Points and the primary claim

Proof: Providing arguments, evidence, and connections to support your assertion

Refutation: Anticipation the response of counterclaims that do not agree with your argument

Conclusion: A summary of your claims and the primary evidence that supports your assertion. The appeal should be geared toward the reader’s feelings, values, or perspectives.

Rogerian method

Scholars of composition have adapted the Rogerian method based on Rogers’ work. American psychotherapist Carl Rogers. This method is extremely popular in the debate of controversial topics and is focused on identifying a neutral viewpoint or compromise that people with different perspectives can agree on. The Rogerian method follows the following format:

Introduction: The presentation of an issue through objectiveness

Opposing view: Explain the views that are in opposition to your primary position in a fair and impartial way

Statement of Validity: Acceptance of the validity of an opposing view in a particular context

Position: The statement of your main position

Context: Explaining the various scenarios where your viewpoint has validity, especially within specific circumstances

Benefits: Discuss why the audience would benefit from accepting your viewpoint without denying the opposing view

How To Structure An Effective Argument

Start With Respect

Engage your partner (or the person you’re arguing with) respectfully; Thestrup says every person has their own experiences in life that influence the things that make us uncomfortable and the kinds of arguments that cause us to feel uncomfortable. Setting boundaries, such as having a consensus not to use harmful words, such as name-calling, can be beneficial to having more productive arguments because it helps make the conversation more likely to remain positive. It’s also a method to demonstrate respect for the other person, even if you do not agree with them.

Be flexible, and realize that it’s challenging to have flawless communication when you’re emotionally involved.

If you are in a heated debate with someone, keep in mind that you should only be attacking the person’s views, not the person who is at fault; this means that you shouldn’t label the person stupid for thinking the way they do or believe, and you shouldn’t resort to a discussion about their appearance.

Make sure you are prepared

Be sure to know the key elements you want to present. Study the relevant facts in order to persuade your adversaries.

Additionally, Herring advises: “Before commencing a discussion, think about what you’re arguing about and what you want. This might sound like common sense. It’s actually crucial. What do you actually want from this discussion? Do you want your opponent to understand your viewpoint? Do you want an outcome that is tangible? If you’re seeking a tangible result, then you should ask yourself whether the outcome you’ve got in mind is achievable. If it’s not achievable or feasible and you’re fighting verbally, it can end a good relationship.”

Come With an Open Mind

Refrain from judging the argument before it’s even begun. That is about letting go of your own ego and doing what you believe is the right thing to do and is true. Be attentive to your partner whenever they ask you a question or make a complaint.

Create a feeling of intelligence

Making people feel foolish causes them to shut down, which leads to an argument that goes nowhere. If you make them feel smart, you’ll be able to make them feel smarter and have a better chance of changing the conversation to your advantage.

When to engage in an argument and when to leave

I’m sure you’ve been in an argument in the past and thought it was not the right date and time. Knowing when to enter into an argument and when not to is a vital skill.

Take your time before starting to argue: is this the right time, or is this the appropriate place?

Play fair 

There’s a good chance that you know what you can do to press your opponent’s button; however, it’s crucial not to give in to the urge to do so if you want to maintain an amicable argument. Make it clear that regardless of how angry they get you and how angry you are, you will not do the thing that you’re sure would send the conversation over the edge.

Respect the rights of others

Be respectful of what the other is saying. A debate must be two-sided. If you do not listen to the other side’s point of view, they will reply with a gesture and not listen to your side. Disagreeing with someone’s view is okay, but refusing to listen makes the debate useless.

Always be courteous when you are arguing with someone else. Remember, they are human beings too. Be kind to them as you’d want to be treated. Refrain from dismissing their ideas in the event that they do not agree with your views.

Get clarification

If you react to someone who is upset, ensure that you know what they are saying. Request clarification before reacting, particularly if you are angered by something they are discussing or doing. It could be helpful to attempt to repeat what they stated to determine the meaning of what they said. Try to look at things from their point of view in a calm manner. Remember that assumptions are the root of all mistakes! Make sure to take a few breaths before responding to an argument. Refrain from assuming that you are aware of what you’re talking about and feeling since, in some likelihood, you do not, even if you know that person well! 

The structure of an effective Argument

Make it logical

Do not allow your emotions to override the rationality of the situation. “When we’re arguing, the area of the brain called the amygdala is activated, which causes an increase in stress hormones and makes our reactions more emotional rather than logical, and this can interfere with our ability to communicate clearly,” Kate says.

Keep your eyes on the event so that your message won’t be affected by anger or resentment.

Arguments should be based on a solid basis, but make sure you comprehend the foundation of your argument before starting to engage in an argument. It is also essential to ensure that you are in agreement with the basic idea of the argument your opponent is making. If you disagree with the argument they’re making or think it’s not representative or that the argument is flawed in any way, state that prior to engaging in a debate. The idea of letting your opponent base their argument on the wrong base makes it difficult to demonstrate the correct concepts.

Look for logical fallacies

Pointing out fallacies in their logic and politely explaining why the logic is wrong is a great method to begin changing someone else’s mind. Recognizing logical errors isn’t easy; however, here are some of the most frequently used fallacies: 

  • Watch out for arguments that incorrectly assume that correlation implies the same thing as causation. Post-hoc fallacies have a similarity, but they are based on the assumption that since A was preceded by B and B was triggered by A.
  • An argument from the Silence fallacy is the belief that, since there is no evidence to support something, it doesn’t exist. For example, God/germs/evolution/aliens do not exist because we have never physically witnessed them.
  • Non-Sequiturs happen in those situations where an argument’s conclusion is not related to its argument’s main idea. For instance, an argument that we shouldn’t pay teachers more since firefighters and police officers do not earn that much.

Learn to recognize your lazy thinking

In two innovative experiments conducted by an international group comprised of cognition scientists, participants were required to develop logic-based arguments about various topics and then analyze other people’s responses to similar questions. What the participants weren’t aware of is that one of their arguments was incorporated into the argument they were required to assess. If they believed the argument was from another person, 57% of the participants did not agree with it.

Our reasoning is selectively lazy; we adhere to our views to a lower standard than others. If someone doesn’t purchase the case you’re making, it’s important to consider that you might not if you were not the one selling it.

Do not hesitate to speak up for yourself

If you’ve been upset by something, take a moment to think about your feelings instead of criticizing the act. Saying, “I feel”… is less intimidating than telling someone, “You did that or this.” Don’t presume that the person you are talking to understands how you feel, and don’t assume the thoughts of others.

Listen, and listen again

Be attentive to what your partner is saying. Pay attention to their body language and the significance behind their words.

As a rule of thumb, Herring writes, “You should be spending more time listening than speaking.” Listening does not mean you’re contemplating what you plan to say next time.

This is usually why many debates or discussions on a subject diverge. If you’re not listening to the other person’s perspective and responding to the issues they raise, you’ll continue to repeat the same arguments. The other person will not be able to agree, and the argument will quickly become problematic.

Focus on points you can agree

Concentrate on the points with which you can reach an agreement. A compromise isn’t a sign that it’s a loss. Seek out the issues that you can both agree on and then take a step to solve the issue. Consider that the best answer is one you agree to, and create an action plan.

Try to see why their solution makes sense to them

It’s more difficult to say than do, especially during an argument; however, when you understand why the other person’s point of view appeals to them, your first step will come towards figuring out the best way to solve the problem.

Apologize when you’re in the wrong

If you’ve made an error, acknowledge the error. Confirm that you were misinformed or didn’t know. It’s not a sign of weakness to admit that you were wrong; it doesn’t make you a lesser person, but admitting you’re wrong does make you a bigger person. Make sure you admit that you’ve reacted too strongly or not understood. Being respectful creates a positive atmosphere for cooperation. It could even end the fight on its feet.

Acknowledge their feelings

Small gestures can show that you respect their opinions. Be attentive to show respect for their viewpoint, even if you don’t accept it.

Utilize “I” statements

Do not blame another person, since this can be a source of tension for the other person rather than creating a situation of working together to address the problem. “Starting statements with ‘You’ places direct blame on your partner’s behaviour, whereas saying ‘I’ takes that away and puts the emphasis on how you feel about it,”

Decide what is worth an argument

Although arguing is a good thing, it is important to know what you can be able to let go of. “In relationships, we will always do things that annoy each other,” Kate says. So let the little things go.

Requests are better than complaints

Avoid bringing up the subject of problems without providing solutions. “Request that your partner tries to do things differently in the future rather than focusing on what happened in the past,” Kate suggests. “This gives you both the power to change what happens next.”

Take time out

It may be beneficial to break off from a heated argument, calm down, and then return to the issue. Setting a timer for 20 minutes will stop the argument from getting out of hand.

Excel in responding to arguments

Be aware of the arguments your opponent will be listening to. What are their beliefs? What kinds of argumentation do they consider convincing?

There are three options to react to an argument: 

  • Question any conclusions they make from the facts.
  • Contest the facts that the other person is relying on 
  • And finally, accept the argument and argue over the importance of the argument (i.e., other points should be considered over the one they’re arguing about.)

Be on the lookout for crafty tricks

Arguments aren’t always as good as they appear. Be aware of the tactics used by your opponent to use facts. Be alert to distraction techniques like personal attacks and red herrings. Beware of hidden inquiries and false options.

How To Effortlessly Defend Yourself In An Argument

Enhance your skills in engaging in public debate

Make it clear and straightforward. Don’t be rushed, and keep it short.

Ability to debate in writing

Choose clarity over pomposity. Keep it short, concise, and direct, and use language that is easy to comprehend.

Don’t require the last word

Both of you wanting to get the final word in a debate could quickly turn a conversation into a Bottomless Anger Pit of Doom. Do not go to that Bottomless Anger Pit of Doom. It’s not a place you’d want to be in. Simply “agree to disagree” with and take a break.

If you’ve been arguing for a long time, and both of you aren’t going to change your mind, consider calling the day off. There are arguments that you cannot overcome, regardless of how convincing your argument in the event that the other party refuses to reconsider the issue. If you can decide when to end your argument, you might be able to maintain the relationship.

Maintain relationships

This is a crucial point. What would you want from this debate? Disappointing, humiliating, or provoking your opponent could make you feel better for a moment; however, you may have many days of regretting your error. Find a solution that works for both of you. It is time to move on. 


Read More: Logical Fallacies: Types, Examples, How to Identify and Avoid Them

Read More: Disagreement without hate

Read More: Developing Competence to Be a Better Individual and Achiever


What are the advantages of a good Argument?

  • Learning to argue well prevents us from building a toxic thought associated with the relationship in question, which can cause brain damage and influence future interactions/perceptions in that relationship (which will only make future arguments worse!). Suppose we can argue with a positive attitude and can “agree to disagree“. In that case, we will improve our mental health and relationships because we realize that we all view the world differently and cannot disagree with anything someone else says or does, which is fine! We also will be able not to let past wounds and painful experiences control our present and future interactions.
  • We can choose how we want to utilize the mental power we have. There’s a limit to the amount of energy we can use throughout the day. Would we use it to repeat a negative thought pattern founded on our beliefs and beliefs, which consume our energy and leave us tired and sick? Do we want to use our energy in a way that allows us to develop an appropriate response to our brains focused on finding the root of the issue and improving relationships and our communication abilities? If we manage our mental energy effectively, it can help us build an enduring, positive foundation for our relationships as we can learn to communicate and listen effectively and helpfully, enhancing our understanding and establishing strong bonds that enable us to face the difficulties of life. Pick which areas you want to put your energy.
  • Instincts, anger, frustration, and the like consume lots of time and energy and cause neurological chaos within the brain. This does not just affect the ability of our brain to focus; it may affect all our relationships. If we can communicate correctly, we can redirect the energy we expend in a positive direction and help create neural networks within the mind, forming the foundation for solid and long-lasting bonds. Also, learning to think correctly can prevent a chaotic mind that directly impacts our physical and mental well-being.
A good Argument: What are the advantages?
  • It is impossible to suppress thoughts or emotions. They’ll eventually surface in one way or another and create a myriad of physical and mental health issues, like an ineffective immune system! The best arguments can be painful, but they bring things out there and help you manage them so they don’t come into your life and negatively impact your physical and mental well-being. A few hours of debate correctly could save you years of relationships and emotional difficulties!
  • We’ll never be able to grow if we don’t work to solve our problems. Inaction on the issue won’t make it disappear It certainly won’t assist us in understanding how we can improve relationships. To learn and deal with an issue, we must admit that there is one. That’s why argumentation is crucial because it sheds light on the issues in our relationships and how we can improve. We are all connected as we live in a tangled world. We cannot avoid human connection.
  • I strongly suggest that you study these rules and apply them right away when you first begin to debate with anyone even if you need to write them down on notepads or in your notebook for the first time! They’ve helped me with my family and significantly enhanced our communication ability. It is crucial not to be afraid of arguments. Don’t get stuck in them for long or let your ego take over, and remember to learn and analyze from the arguments! Keep in mind that just an hour of debate effectively could end up saving your relationship from years of issues!

Conclusion

Be aware that a debate between two individuals is quite different from a debate in public in front of an audience.

In the first case, you’re trying to convince the other party. Find ways to reach a consensus and be calm in defending your views.

How To Be Stoic During An Argument

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