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Secrets to Winning an Argument

Get your fight on! A study released in 2010 by Life Science shows that arguments are good for your health. The day after a tense situation occurred, people who argued had less physical problems, like aches and pains, than those who kept their emotions bottled up.

And if you’re going to argue with someone, you might as well win! Loyola University Chicago Debate coach and professor, David Romanelli, provides tips on how to get the last word:

Know Your Audience
“If you don’t know your audience, how can you hope to persuade them?” said Romanelli. He believes that you need to understand your audience’s personal values and perspective on life in order to develop a persuasive argument that appeals to their logic.

When trying to convince your newly vegan friend to go to Buffalo Wild Wings, don’t try to coax her to eat the chicken! Instead, list of all of the delicious salads items.

Don’t use tricks
Never underestimate your audience’s ability to know when they are being tricked. Romanelli says, “If people find out that they’ve been tricked you’re credibility is ruined for the future.” Tricks can include using wording that makes an argument look better than it is or using confusing sentences to make you sound smart.

He mentioned that politicians sometimes use words like “climate change” when they are referring to “global warming” in order for the event to seem less frightening.

When your husband asks you how much your new dress costs (it was a lot)… don’t s say it was “on sale” because he knows that doesn’t mean cheap. Instead, try telling him that you saved money by bringing your lunch to work this week.

Speak Ethically
Romanelli is a big fan of Aristotle’s advice that encourages speaking ethically, the act of having a sound goal, being respectful and not tricking the listeners. He believes that people cannot find fault with an ethical stance on a subject, people can only find fault with the logic behind it. This means you need to make sure that your stance is not heated and irrational; make a fair stance backed by a lot of well-researched facts.

Even though your co-worker forgot to e-mail you the world’s most important document, try and refrain from calling her an “unorganized imbecile” and instead explain to her how vital that email was to the corporation. She will be more willing to agree with you and feel less attacked.

Be Accurate
In an argument, your credibility is all you have. Even if one unimportant fact is inaccurate, your whole argument could be ruined. Romanelli noted, “A hostile audience that doesn’t support you will seize on your mistakes and use it as a way to destroy everything you say.”

If you are arguing with a friend about about the correct words in quote from the movie “Superbad,” don’t call the main actor Jonas Hill (instead of Jonah Hill).

Look Like a Leader
Unfortunately, people already have the image of what a leader looks like in their minds (Obama). Romanelli mentioned that studies have shown that taller, and better-looking people are more likely to be persuasive than others, and the media often builds up these stereotypes in movies. Although you cannot change your height or your looks, you can dress up and make yourself look more like a leader. H&M has great business clothes to make you look more presentable in an office argument.

By: Laura Kujava
Photo By: Creative Commons

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The Hub Bub is a collection of articles, videos, audio, photo slideshows, interactive maps and other media produced by students enrolled in journalism courses at Loyola University Chicago's School of Communication. For more about the School of Communication, our award winning faculty, and our state of the art facilities located in the heart of Chicago, visit our website.