How to Make a Convincing Argument.

The holidays are a time when families get together. And when families get together, arguments sometimes ensue. While you might be tempted to think that’s a bad thing, if done properly, argumentation can actually help people better understand and appreciate each other. (And what better holiday gift is there than that?)

Being able to make a convincing argument is a skill that will help you more effectively communicate your thoughts and ideas and be better understood by the people around you, whether they’re at home or in the workplace. With that in mind, here are a few helpful tips to help keep your next argument a positive and productive one:

  1. Think through your argument ahead of time, research evidence that supports your argument, and consider potential counterarguments that could be made. Be prepared to justify your position and to answer probing questions about it.
  2. Be clear, concise, and precise when presenting your argument. Always keep calm and be respectful to the person you’re trying to convince. Avoid taking opposition to your argument personally.
  3. Use logic and support the points you’re making with factual evidence and real-world examples as necessary. Study the different kinds of logical fallacies and avoid making them in your arguments.
  4. Look for common ground with the person you’re trying to convince. Appeal to shared values and common self-interest. Build empathy.
  5. Listen to and verbally acknowledge points made by the other person. If they’re opposed to your position, put yourself in their shoes and try to understand where they’re coming from and why.
  6. If the other person makes a factual assertion that counters your argument, make sure they have evidence to support their claim. Ask questions to clarify counterarguments and to reveal potential flaws in them.
  7. It’s okay to concede a flaw in your argument or a good counterpoint. Stay focused on the big picture and don’t argue small points for the sake of arguing.
  8. Be on the lookout for win-win opportunities, and be open to compromise positions that enable you to achieve your larger goals.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Ding Yuin Shan under the Creative Commons Attribution license.