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Win the Argument AND Win Them Over – 4 Techniques

Look, anyone can “win” an argument. Hurl enough insults at a person and eventually they’re going to give up. But when you care about someone, isn’t the goal actually to influence them to see your perspective and come to a meeting of the minds?

Today I’m handing you 4 elegantly effective techniques to get your point of view across in a way that is certain, passionate and compassionate at the same time. Not only will you win, but you’ll win people over.

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35 Replies to “Win the Argument AND Win Them Over – 4 Techniques”

  • Dear Matt,

    This is a really interesting topic to me. I don’t have a lot of friends. Honestly, other people just exhaust me. Sometimes, even the thought of having to socialize outside of work can make me feel utterly exhausted. I very rarely feel a deep connection, or any connection at all, to another person.

    I’m an INTJ. If you’re not familiar with the term, it’s a Myers-Briggs personality type. Less than 1% of women score as an INTJ on the MBPTI. I actually very much enjoy not being much like other people, but it does have one crucial side effect. I find it a struggle to get along with other women because women’s relationships are generally predicated on a deep well of commonality. And I have very little in common with other women. It’s a bit easier to get along with men mostly because their platonic relationships are usually quite superficial and don’t require much more than one or two things in common with each other. But, that said, I’ve only ever had one or two male friends.

    But, I have had two friendships in my life where, when I was with the other person, in addition to never being bored when we were together, we also had the ability to make each other laugh and laugh and laugh — to the point of other people around us laughing with us even though they had no idea what we were talking about, sometimes they’d be complete strangers. Those are the only two people in my life whose friendship I’ve deeply missed after it was gone. Those two friendships occurred about ten years apart and the second of those relationships ended about 15 years ago, but I still think about both of those people on a regular basis. Both friendships ended for good reason, and I wouldn’t ever try to rekindle either relationship, but it’s probably my most heartfelt wish that I’d meet a man with whom I would have that sort of connection, in addition to having a romantic relationship.

    Anyway, I know what that sort of connection feels like. And I know when it’s not there. But I still find that I try to talk myself into giving someone a shot even though, truthfully, we aren’t ever going to connect like that. And, of course, it never works. In fact, it usually backfires.

    Either I give someone more chances than they deserve and end up regretting the time I wasted, or I find that men, especially, mistake my hope and attempts for a connection with a deeper investment in them personally than I actually have. And when men think you have a deep investment in them, they usually react with condescension and/or revulsion or an attempt to take advantage of that investment in whatever way they can. Either way, I’m well aware of what’s going on and this is the point where I generally end up deeply regretting the time I’ve clearly wasted trying to make a connection with them.

    It’s a sad fact of life that you can’t force a true connection. There’s no formula or magic trick to make it happen. It’s either there from the beginning, or it never will be. So, I guess my point is you’re entirely correct. Don’t invest in someone who isn’t giving you what you want. It only leads to dashed hopes and regret. It’s much better to move on quickly and try again with someone else.

    Best,
    Shannon

  • Had my BBQ (was a fish fry, actually) and came to watch you afterward!

    Whatever happened to your friend’s cute dog? On YouTube the next video previews you holding up that pooch. He (or she) was cute!

  • I’m studying Philosophy at university and learned about and practised the socratic method. Interesting to hear about it here.
    I wasn’t to happy to hear about you finding it entertaining to argumentally abuse people though… that’s one of the biggest turn off’s I know. Cannot stand people like that, we all have flaws, but this is one that is beneath my standard. I appreciate you being honest about your flaws though in stead of putting on a fake front. And I do appreciate your point in the end of the video :D

    I watched your interview with the school of greatness and you mentioned you had some thoughts or unanswered questions about monogami and marriage, maybe there’s a blog video in there. Maybe you could interview Tony Robbins about those questions/thoughts you have. How cool would that be! Such an accomplishment for sure… Or your dad and ask him given your parents are married (right?) – you always talk about how amazing they are. :D

  • I watched this video yesterday and thought: Interesting, but not applicable to me really. I don’t get into arguments on a daily basis.
    Half in, it rang a bell: ‘Oh.. right. That was me last night..’
    With the third person being my boss, at the middle of the table. Luckily so, as this wasn’t a situation where I wanted to meet in the middle or whatever:

    It wasn’t a usual thing I do – I’m learning:)
    I was dealing with a chauvinistic, passive-aggressive prick; mostly, I don’t take it personal when someone shows some temper (even though I like personal – should consider that a bit more, sporty wise:)). I can get yelled at and not be impressed. Internally I just go ‘whatever, calm down already’. For the other person is just worked up – and often is glad I didn’t even bother, which makes them think it over and apologize later on, sometimes;) – again, not a biggie.
    This was different, the person I was dealing with was different.
    Throwing stuff in front of my feet, murmuring something in his beard. I got angry, called him out.
    He,, all worked up, blurted how ‘everybody’s doing this and that all night’. I told him I’m not gonna take his frustrations on other people’s mistakes.
    It was something that had built up over time, we all knew already with him the teamwork isn’t quite working out.
    It was a really disrespectful attitude he showed towards me, and this made me wary; also: I couldn’t respect him for his behavior.
    He crossed a line which, surprisingly, put me in a ‘ok I don’t care about you right now. You give me shit, so you have to be able to take some. Will respect you once you’re sane again’-mode.
    I’ve grown out of being the one mothering everybody.
    A little later he exploded, couldn’t bear me being indifferent. He completely lost it.
    ‘I swear I’m gonna hit you. Shut the fuck up’ -mistake no.1.- and ‘get out of my sight, right now!’ -mistake no.2.
    I was provoked. And really pissed. I got loud. I told him right there I’m not scared of him. Nobody talks to me like that.
    The whole team heard us from the front yelling at each other in the kitchen.
    I went back, we still had lot of work to do. It was 3am after closing time. (I work in a bar.)
    My boss came back from accounting. I said nothing.
    One of my colleagues was concerned but said nothing.
    I didn’t wanna spread this out in front of everybody. But figured it’s up to me to get this out of the way, now, so it’s done. I went to see him in his office, just said FYI there was a big show-down between me and one of the runners.
    My boss can have a look on his face where I’m not sure if he calmly gets ready to scold me now OR if he’s genuinely interested on what’s going on with me, and wants me to speak my mind.
    I found out it’s more of the latter.
    I fucked up once mid-week; he did yell at me then on the phone to ‘move my ass here real quick’.. I did apologize to the people concerned and, one day later he showed me I’m safe, and that mostly he was worried what happened. (I’m normally very reliable. He respected me not telling him everything.)
    So I know he can get upset if I don’t confide in him (still getting used to somebody having my back).
    We had some issues with the runners not supporting us this week, and he went ‘you should know by now: No matter how much I have going on, how stressed it gets – I always have an open ear and I f***ing want you to tell me if something doesn’t work, immediately!’
    So I had to say something, we can’t all work together like this. He got up his seat to get the guy and solve this.
    He played the middleman.
    I was having my boss being empathetic towards that idiot, got a lot of those raised fingers whenever I wanted to say something ‘let him talk now’.
    Ok. Didn’t roll my eyes or anything. I stayed calm. But yeah, we both raised our voices.
    My boss knows how much of a darling I am, even the really experienced guy in the team, said lately, in front of my boss ‘Jeez you never say something! Stop swallowing, how can one live like that’.
    I did point out that this guy has a personal problem with me. I can’t work like that.
    No matter how much my boss tried to negotiate between us, he saw how every fibre in this guy showed refusal and hate.
    I then had the guy going into a tiring battle of words, from don’t interrupt me to you don’t let me say something – when finally it was my turn to talk – so I cut it and said ‘I’m not gonna get into this stupid meta-communication now that’s off the point’.
    He was right though at one thing: I didn’t try to ‘understand’ him for threatening me. That’s where I have my boundaries, no pity.
    My boss got loud saying ‘I don’t want a discussion here! Nobody’s gotta be nervous around here – you definitely don’t threaten anybody. We respect each other!’
    The guy flipped again. Shrieked at me I shall ‘shut up and go now’, then left the room.
    My boss saw himself now what’s going on. He went after him.
    I later saw them together with a coworker, having another discussion/pep talk. I wasn’t happy about that. Being cut out of the conversation when it had pretty much to do with me.
    I was again told to shut up, with my boss going: ‘Let me handle that: I want you to apologize right now for threatening her.’
    I saw he was very much on my side after all. (I still hate it when somebody’s speaking on my behalf). The guy stormed out.
    My boss gave me a big hug, a kiss on my head and went ‘ok, now he’s out! Fired!’ and ran after him.
    I then even had the experienced colleague trivializing it all.
    I didn’t get into it, didn’t react on it. I had stated my point, I had to take care of myself now and leave it there.
    Went back to work… 20 min. later the guy came up with a smile to apologize.
    I said ok, in passing, and kept doing my thing.
    I didn’t feel like having a big moment with him, he’s gotta respect I didn’t wanna shake his hand he offered.
    This WAS tough on me, even though I didn’t show.
    He said it, great, we’re done here and it’s all fine again.
    We’ll see.
    I like to solve things straight out, holding a grudge is petty.
    The colleagues were joking around a lot, we ALL stayed for a while, watching one of the coworkers being completely drunk and silly, lightening up the situation without knowing and leaving us with a funny, grinny story instead of what else went down that night.

    I like that part in the video of ‘sometimes just do your thing’:D
    1st, sometimes it’s good not to care if the other person likes me. Maybe I don’t like that person in the first place. And: We’re all grown-ups!
    2nd, it’s boring not to have an opinion already.
    We can always correct course along the way:)
    I do like those 4 points. Will write them down.
    I figured the way you see it, an argument can also be on something really subtle..
    Stuff where I might just think my part and not speak up.
    Once I have those handy, will be interesting to get aware of how many opportunities I’ll find to apply them:)
    Thank you!

  • I loved this video!!
    You should do more videos like that!
    I always find myself lost when I argue with someone usually with my partner who knows exactly what to say and how to say things so that at the end he is always right. I can never put my views across because his so good at arguing. Thank you for that I will use those tips for sure!
    Love you!
    Kerly

  • Very useful to me because I am always debating with my friends and it gets ugly. People get offended and stop speaking to each other, techniques offered are very useful.

  • Matthew, you make a lot of good points, such as being pragmatic when talking with people.
    However, it didn’t sit well with me when you said ‘we may have to exhibit some false modesty in order to influence people’.
    First of all, I’d rather be in a state of curiosity with people instead of having an underlying agenda (influencing people)

    And why do we have to ‘win’ in a conversation? That just feels competitive and controlling.
    I’d prefer to have an exchange of thoughts and an honest imparting of the emotions I’m feeling. If people don’t want to engage with me on that level, I’m outta’ there.

  • I started watching this video on the 4th of July shortly before leaving to meet my ex boyfriend at a BBQ. We hadn’t spoken in days due to a huge fight we’d had, so I was able to actually put some of your advice to practical use. It worked unsurprisingly well.

    Fighting fair and arguing effectively are two of the most valuable skills I think you can have because they affect all of your personal relationships – your friends, your family, your coworkers, your significant other. I also agree that modesty is definitely the key in arguments. It’s not about being deceptive or less than truthful; it’s about understanding that the people you love don’t always see the world the same way you do. This is actually one of the best videos I think you’ve ever done, though I must confess I didn’t finish it on the 4th of July. . . .I left halfway through to go drink a beer at a BBQ ;)

  • Hi Matt,

    I have a friend who does a lot of all the things you say that you shouldn’t do in your video – she speaks with a very aggressive tone, asks patronizing questions to make you see the point she wants to make, refuses to ever concede a point during an argument, and makes her moral opinion known on my personal business. I’ve tried explaining to her that her tone makes her sound angry (which she says is not the case) and that I find it very upsetting, and her response to all these things is that “it’s just the way she is.” I absolutely agree that these are not the most effective ways to win someone over to your side, and I personally would not speak that way to a friend. I often find us in arguments where we actually agree with each other, and it frustrates me quite a bit.

    I’ve been working on either ending these situations when they begin or responding rationally, such as by asking her to frame the problem as she sees it, which usually makes her speak more calmly. But when she starts going off, it still gets under my skin like nothing else. Maybe the problem is just that we see the world and think in different ways. I’d love some advice on how to better deescalate or avoid these unpleasant arguments, or how to let it roll off me because when I find myself arguing with her I always feel burning indignation. Thanks!

    – Julie

  • I did not watch on July 4th, so I suppose in that way I contributed to the low view count.
    I’m probably an odd-ball follower who enjoys your videos on general communication advice over romantic advice. Not that those are not good, I suppose it’s just not my focus at the moment.
    Good work on this one! I shall apply these nuggets at the office in the near future!

  • Could someone please help me…. I purchased how to talk to men program.. paid money and all that.. it was supposed to take me to the private member page.. but it didnt. I should have the instant access by completing the transaction and I got email and everything,, can anybody tell me what I’m missing here… lol

  • Matthew–you are intelligent, humble, English-ly humorous, and downright adorable. You’re what American women think of when we picture a sexy Englishman (oxymoron?). I watched your entire 4th of July presentation on the benefits of effective argument. Although enlightening, wasn’t it also a wee bit tedious?

    Your humbly inquiring friend,
    Rebecca

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