1. Look for contradictions
Always look for contradictions in your opponent's arguments.
Contradictions come in different forms and shapes but all can be categorized into three categories.
- Specific examples that contradict concepts presented by your opponent
- Concepts that contradict examples given by your opponent
- Two concepts that contradict each other
This is by no means easy to do, but you will get better at it as you master the art of debating with others. Always stay alert when arguing with someone in anticipation of a contradiction. This is probably the best argument settling technique.
2. Use facts and numbers
You can't argue with facts.
When arguing with someone stay as away as you can from personal subject statements and try to be as objective as possible.
Objectivity comes from factual statements especially those that are quantified in the form of numbers.
3. Ask for examples
Put your opponent's understanding to the test and ask them to give specific examples of the ideas that they support. Many will fail to find specific examples or worse give wrong or contradictory examples.
Remember that "Most arguments are won by establishing a psychological advantage over others rather than pure logic."
4. Question facts, statistics, and sources
When someone provides any form of fact, especially that is statistical or probabilistic in nature, always question the validity of that claim.
There are multiple ways to question, debunk, and deconstruct stats including:
- Question the source
- Question the time the survey was done
- Question the method
- Question the interpretation
5. Don't attack someone's character
Don't take it personally. This is a very serious mistake and usually leads to nowhere but total disagreement and resentment.
Hold your ground and maintain your composure no matter how provocative your opponent is.
6. You can't prove that something doesn't exist
Do you want to confuse someone with flawed logic? Ask them to prove to you that something doesn't exist.
The fact is that you really can't or shouldn't I must say, disprove the existence of something.
Logically speaking, we should only be concerned about proving the existence of things not proving their nonexistence. As a simple example, you can't prove the non-existence of Santa Clause or purple elephants. Now one can prove that purple elephants don't exist. Just because no one saw one doesn't prove that they don't exist.
7. Use humor at key moments
If your target is just to win the argument whether you make sense or not and with minimal effort then this psychological trick can help you achieve your goal.
Make a personal connection with your opponent by cracking jokes at appropriate times.
Nothing brings two people together better than humor.
Mirror someone's behavior as means of subliminal influence.
For example, if you are sitting with someone with their legs crossed, cross your legs as well.
Studies have shown that people are more likely to be receptive to people who look and act like them.
9. Show agreement on common points
Establish common ground with the person you arguing with you. Show agreement on common points as a way to make them more agreeable.
When they see that you can both agree on a few points, it is going to be easier for them to accept new ideas. If there is no common ground, resistance will be much higher and you will find it very difficult to convince them of anything new.
10. Use quotes and metaphors
Famous and established quotes have a magical influence on people. They take them for granted without giving much thought to the hidden purpose of their usage. Use metaphors to draw mental images of abstract ideas that are hard to explain otherwise.
11. Use examples
Use examples to prove general ideas as a means of persuasion. The best way to make someone appreciate or comprehend an idea is to give a specific example or instance.
This technique can be deceptively used to establish a false principle through specific examples. People are susceptible to believing that a concept is true from just a few examples.
12. Break a general rule by giving a specific example.
If you want to prove wrong a general idea or concept, all you have to do is find a counterexample. No need to go into theoretical or abstract measures, just give that one example that breaks the concept.