• A Gentleman's Guide to Winning an Argument

    People disagree all the time over a variety of subjects from sports, to politics, to religion, to philosophy and on and on. Debating like a gentleman can be healthy, productive, educational, and enlightening. Most of the time, you will not be able to change a person's opinion on a particular belief or subject. As a result, most of the time you will not be the winner of such debates, but not changing someone's mind does not make you the loser of the argument.

    Let's take a look at several ways you can be sure to win an argument almost every time (or at least not lose friends over such debates!):

    • Realize that you are probably not going to change the mind of the person with whom you are debating.
    • Don't be a "know it all". No one knows everything, and you may be lucky enough to learn a thing or two from your opponent.
    • Explain your position in a calm and friendly tone, and be sure never to lose your temper. Never, ever, raise your voice when you are debating with someone. Once you cross that threshhold, you are basically admitting that your position has no teeth and that you have had to resort to emotions to try to prove your point.
    • Never use vulgarities when you are debating with someone. A man's level of education is determined by his vocabulary. You do not want a string of cuss words to expose your level of intelligence! In addition, using curse words draws the attention away from the facts of the debate and also shows that your argument is weak.
    • Never insult the person or their family when you are having a debate. Doing so makes you appear uncivilized, rude, and again displays that your position is lacking in fortitude.
    • Never resort to threats or physical violence. Once the fists come out the argument is lost. Injuries and blood spilled does not win an argument and, in fact, causes you to lose instantly. Resorting to physical fighting shows that your original argument points are invalid and you now must attempt to beat your ideas into your adversary.
    • Don't speak in absolutes by using words such as "never" and "always", as there are usually exceptions to every situation. Doing so will allow your debater to punch holes in your position with that one exception.
    • Be confident in your statements, but not arrogant or cocky. Cockiness is when you know you are right, whereas confidence is when others see you as a person that possesses great knowledge on a subject. It is what others see in you rather than what you see in yourself.
    • Find common ground between you and the person with whom you are engaged in a debate. You may not win him over to your side completely, but you may make him see that you have some valid points as well.
    • Know when to admit you are wrong, and be willing to do so humbly. If you are proven wrong on a point, then say you are wrong and move on.
    • Do not take your debate personally. Once the debate is over, you and your opponent should maintain the exact same relationship that you had prior to your discussion. If you always have coffee every Tuesday morning with that person, then meet him as usual.
    • Do not go around gossiping about your friend after the argument is over. Your debate is between the two of you, and there is no need for the rest of the world to hear about it.

    The key to winning an argument is not what we think. Winning is not necessarily getting the other person to cast off what he believes and immediately jump on your bandwagon. The true winning of an argument is found in the camaraderie of the debate. A win is when you have had a debate without losing your cool or having broken any of the rules listed above. Winning a debate is when you have been enlightened and your views have been broadened, as well as his. It is a win when you have been able to plant a seed of your position into the other person's mind, even if he does not agree with you at that moment. It is also a win when a seed of his opinion is also planted in your mind. We can all learn something from anyone, and that is a win for everybody!

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