On the journey to success, you will meet many challenges. Even if you do not want or like them, you will have to encounter some arguments on the way. If you are to be successful in your work or business, you need to be equipped with best ways of dealing with arguments. What is the best framework for managing arguments or debate as a professional?
First, remember that many people approach arguments with emotions. You need to rise above that. If you give yourself personal discipline not to use emotion in arguments, you will come out of many arguments victorious. With this approach, you can even ‘lose’ the argument but emerge the overall winner because you will have won on bigger fronts like professionalism, integrity, class and more. The key is to keep yourself composed, ‘cool’ and collected.
You will find that most people argue with emotions, basically complaining or shouting or blaming or some combination of the three without really communicating any major point across. Try to summarise their points and if they listed many issues including very minute ones, focus on their small and ‘cheeky’ issues and tackle each one of those with facts while composed, relaxed and diplomatic.
Even how you start making your statement should immediately show that you are not going to be emotional about the argument but that you are a professional that wants to give their side of story objectively. A good starting paragraph could be something like: “I understand that this issue is attracting a lot of interest. And I acknowledge that it is easy for us to be carried away by this argument. But I will do my best to give an objective view and context behind this issue. My colleague has outlined the issues as they understand them. It is only fair that I also give my view on how I understand this issue. First, I believe there is a lot of common understanding on the following …..”
This approach often works. It is very powerful for a number of reasons. First, you are acknowledging the fact that there is a big argument between the two sides. Secondly, you are cleverly pointing out that there is a risk that anyone involved in this argument may be carried away [by emotions] – note the fact that you are being very subtle without directly mentioning ‘emotions’. It would be very dangerous to mention ‘emotions’ because the other party would immediately get very agitated. Your task is to try and cool them down and not to anger them more. You come out victorious and very powerful as well as professional if you manage the anger of your opponent. And you come out very weak and loser if you worsen the anger of your opponent unless the opponent increases their own anger despite your persistent efforts of trying to control their anger.
Notice also, that in that opening statement, you clearly state that yours will be an objective and composed view. Again, you are distancing yourself from the emotions and you are committing to professionalism. Finally, you set out to start by lining up areas of agreement. Many people believe that once there is an argument, then you must oppose 100 percent of the statements from the opposite sides. That is how many lose the argument. In every debate, there is some common ground. When you can’t find any, you can even use generic common areas such as “I believe that we have one common goal here – that we resolve this issue amicably.”
Once you have outlined that powerful opening, it will now be easy to win your argument. All you now need to do is to outline the facts as you know them and then summarise. Just remember to maintain your discipline and not to get emotional along the way. If you do this, you will rise and shine! Good luck!