Have you ever noticed that that even ‘winning’ an argument often results in losing it? Typically, the point of an argument is to win someone over to your way of thinking or to get them to do something you would like them to do. This seldom works out the way you want it to.
Arguments, debates, confrontations…really any interaction where you are basically saying, “I’m right, you’re not, and here’s why,” will not lead to the desired outcome you have in mind. Human nature dictates that people do not like to hear that they’re wrong.
Let’s dissect some tips from Dale Carnegie’s : How To Win Friends & Influence People, that will not only serve you in your business, they are also good practices to keep in mind regarding any type of relationship you are in.
The only way to win an argument is by avoiding it
There is a Chinese proverb that states, “the greatest victory, is the battle not fought.” In battle, there tends to be casualties on both sides, the same is true in arguments. In winning a war of words, all you are really doing is alienating a potential asset. The ‘casualties’ are different but the principle remains.
Let’s say you disagree with a potential customer over the nature of the MLM business model. They are convinced that you are involved in a ‘pyramid scheme’ due to the way in which network marketing companies pays out commissions. However, they love the product you just recently let them sample and may want to place an order. Do you think it is in your best interest to get caught up over the semantics of a ‘pyramid scheme’ at this point?
Doing so will only put you at risk of losing a potential customer. You may even win the argument, but in doing so you could possibly offend or embarrass the other party. They may even turn you away simply due to pride. They lose face and you lose a sale. This is just a theoretical example, but it helps illustrate the point that the best arguments are the ones avoided. This is not always possible, but take the option when it is.
The tactful and wise approach
Here is advice for approach to winning others to your way of thinking from some very wise men spanning back to one of the first great philosophers.
Men must be taught as if you taught them not
And things unknown proposed as things forgot
You cannot teach a man anything;
You can only help him find it within himself.
Be wiser than other people if you can;
But do not tell them so.
One thing only I know,
And that is that I know nothing.
I find it interesting that these points seem to revolve around the attributes of pride and humility. When someone’s pride is at risk, the likelihood of offending them increases. If you approach a topic humbly, your ‘opponents’ defenses are less likely to raise. Dale Carnegie suggests that there is a magic in phrases such as: “I may be wrong. I frequently am. Let’s examine the facts.”
Emphasize points in which you agree
I think that we can agree that agreeing on this point will be in both our best interests. See what I did there? Laying a foundation of relatability strongly works in your favor when attempting to win others over. The last thing you want them verbalizing is the word “No.”
Getting them to say “Yes” early in the conversation will subconsciously increase their probability to concur with other ideas you may have.
Also, remember to always quickly admit when you’re at fault. Implementing these principles is easier said than done. It will take practice, but mastering them will do wonders for you in terms of gaining the favor of others, and winning them over to your way of thinking. In time you will realize that benefits far outweigh the cons.