LearnHow to win an argument

writes on January 4, 2007

I used to hate the book How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. The whole concept sounded really selfish and almost a little “dirty”. Then my mom (who is the antithesis of selfish) mentioned that she had read it and that it was really packed with wisdom.

“Hmmmm … If Mom loves it, it must be quality,” I thought. So I grabbed myself a copy, and holy crap, it is packed with amazing advice.

“The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it”

That’s Principle #1 from the section “Win People to Your Way of Thinking”. Carnegie points out that as soon as you start arguing with someone, you’ve lost the fight. Have you ever been won over by someone who argues with you? I know I haven’t.

Basically, every single one of us gets defensive when we’re attacked – even if we know we’re wrong. Nine times out of ten, you’ll dig your heals in and fight back.

So if you’re trying to convince someone, the last thing you should do is argue with them.

It’s all about the Good Will

Sure, you may win an argument. But will that person have good will towards you? Probably not. They’ll probably resent the fact that you were right and that you proved it to them.

If you really want to convince somebody of something, before you start an argument, take a quick step back from the situation and try to see things from their point of view. Why do they think the way they do? Why should they switch to your point of view?

0 Responses to “How to win an argument”

  1. I read that book when I was a kid and liked it very much, but then it somehow faded away. It is certainly a very reasonable book though.

  2. I’ve read this book and also Getting to Yes!. Most of it is common sense, a good reminder to keep our emotions out of our decision making. btw..as a parent of three kids pre-teen, it is a wonderful discussion to have with your kids the lessons taught in these books…try it….it doesn’t make them a pansy, it just sets them up to succeed.

  3. Yes but is it though Ryan? Is it, eh? EH!!!!

  4. To take Ryan’s point even further – the real lesson is that when you argue there is NO way of winning. In an argument you either don’t make your case, or you do, and the other person then feels less good will toward you.

    I’ve been a follower of HTWF&IP for a while now and Ryan, I think I may have even mentioned some of the teachings to you when you were in NYC last year.

    The truth is that it is an easy book to read, but a hard one to live by. If you can master it then you will find your own peace and harmony in your relationships (both work and personal).

    Best of luck!

  5. Yes it is! No it’s not! Yes, it is!

  6. @ Rob – “I think itâ€s healthy, itâ€s what politicians do all the time.”

    I know I want to model myself after politicians. I would get things done really fast and would end up with the best results in the end.

  7. It is a great time of year to buy a book like that. Thanks for the recommendation.

  8. Ryan Carson on January 4, 2007 at 2:35 pm said:

    If youâ€re not good at arguing then you probably do feel “youâ€ve lost the fight”, but thatâ€s probably because youâ€re in it for the wrong reasons.

    Rob, I think you missed the point of the post. It has nothing to do with the YouSendIt-DropSend sale. The point is that it’s better not to argue at all. Goodwill is often more important than “winning”.

  9. The title makes the book sound evil, but basically Dale Carnegie teaches common sense… don’t be a jerk, be positive, and think of other people’s interests. I highly recommend the Dale Carnegie courses, especially for it’s public speaking aspect.

  10. I’d heard of the book but always thought it sounded like a bit of a joke until I saw someone highly recommend it on a site. So I read it and like you had lots of “a-ha!” moments when suddenly everything makes sense. It’s fascinating stuff.

  11. Having just read the TechCrunch responses and now this I’m wondering if you’re feeling a bit “got at” Ryan? I’ve been won over plenty of times by people arguing with me. I think it’s healthy, it’s what politicians do all the time. If you’re not good at arguing then you probably do feel “you’ve lost the fight”, but that’s probably because you’re in it for the wrong reasons. Arguments are two different positions being brought together by two people, and as such they’re a good way of learning. “Heated agreements” are plain dull, although they may get you on your way quickly.
    If you don’t like arguments/debates/discussions/battles I think you need to give up running your business and go work in Tesco – but you’d be too good for that. Toughen up, Ryan, as another poster on techcrunch stated you’re starting to come across as naive and just a little dumb. Maybe you need to win a few arguments!

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