How To Win An Argument

What You Say When Your Opponent Brings Up An Unrelated Issue: A Handy Metaphor
by Gene Griessman, Ph.D.

You’re in a lively argument, and your opponent asks you a question about a topic that is not relevant to your objective.  What do you do; what do you say?

You have to pick you battles.  In order to win an argument, you must keep your focus on the main topic.  Decline any temptation to debate the a side issue.

Whatyousay.com recommends a colorful metaphor that can work well in this kind of situation.  It’s from the movie “The Social Network.”  In the movie, the protagonist says, “I don’t have a dog in that fight.”

This metaphor, or a version of it, can help keep you focused.  If your opponent comes back at you, “Yes you do,”  you can respond, “That’s a question that we can discuss later.”

Winning arguments or debates or negotiations is not just about logic.  They often are won by how well protagonists position themselves, by how well they manage to keep the ideas focused.


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Gene Griessman is an internationally known keynote speaker, actor, and communication strategist. His book “TheWords Lincoln Lived By” is in its 23rd printing and “Time Tactics of Very Successful People” is in its 43rd printing. His training video “Lincoln on Communication” is owned by thousands of corporations, libraries, and government organizations. He has spoken at conventions and annual meetings all over the world. To learn more about his presentations, call 404-435-2225. Learn more at Atlanta Speakers Bureau or at his website. His latest book “Lincoln and Obama” has just been released by Audible.
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