Want To Win? – Argue, Do Not Fight!

What’s winning? Is it making the point you are right? Or, is it making the other guy do what you want him to do? I choose the later – making the other guy do what I want him to do. That is the true win for me. If this is the case with you too then you must learn how to argue, not to fight.

by katiebate

Jay Heinrich offers good distinction between fight and argument in his book Thank You for Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasionclip_image001:

"The basic difference between an argument and a fight: an argument, done skillfully, gets people to want to do what you want. You fight to win; you argue to achieve agreement."

Win Customers – Argue, Don’t Fight

Consulting is all about conflict. Consultant’s goal is to either solve the problems or reveal latent ones. Problems are usually no fun for customers. Problems create tension that often leads to conflict. Consultant is always in epicenter of the conflict. Otherwise why call the consultant in first place? The basic question consultant should ask himself is "What do I want? Do I want to win or do I want to win a customer?". My answer is "Win a customer". To win a customer I follow another pattern presented in the bookvirtue, practical wisdom, selflessness. More on the approach read What Aristotle Could Teach You About Consulting

Win Managers – Argue, Don’t Fight

Fighting your boss would be a …ehm serious career limiting move. I have done it – take my word for granted, it never works. Worse, it creates the atmosphere that is much less than inspiring (in case you stay with the position and not get fired).

What worked for me is arguing. Not always. At least I had a chance to present my take without major emotional losses and avoiding making more enemies. By "arguing" I mean applying the same basic principles of persuasion – virtue, practical wisdom, selflessness. If you hit the case of being saddled with a bad boss I suggest you go over this great article – How to Handle a Bad Boss. What worked especially great is "Don’t Act Immediately" and "Play the Game". Playing the game not only helped me to stay in the game but also persuade in some cases. Good stuff.

Win Kids – Argue, Don’t Fight

Kids are stubborn. Kids might sometimes drive you just nuts. They try out the boundaries, they try to take you over it. The natural reaction is "Stop doing it!", "No!", "Don’t!" in other words the natural reaction is fighting them. It is effective and it works but it leaves very bad taste in my mouth and it does not add to the kid’s self esteem. It also misses the great opportunity to teach and learn. What worked for me is arguing. Really. First I let my kids win a little by initially agreeing but then I develop an conversation trying to argue with her. Giving examples from previous experiences or making it up on the go. Hey! Aristotle could teach me a lot about how to be a good parent, eh?

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20 Comments on "Want To Win? – Argue, Do Not Fight!"

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  1. It really is an art to get agreement. None of like to loose. Allowing others to win is part of the art, good example of how well it works with children.


  2. Liara Covert says:

    Alik, human beings can also evolve to sense arguing is not necessary. To connect with energy within the mind helps you begin to realize you have choices every moment about how to channel it. As you learn to dissolve negative energy, you rediscover only love, compassion and peace exist. All else is filler, illusion and distraction from truth.

  3. J.D. Meier says:

    It’s always a good self-check to ask, what do I want to accomplish?

    One of my early mentors taught me that the goal of any email war is to make your opponent cry. Later I realized the flaw and focused on compelling outcomes. Granted some of the early battles were fun, but now I’m a fan of bridge building over bridge burning. Live and learn.

  4. LisaNewton says:

    I find the best idea about an argument is to be able sometimes agree to disagree. Everyone has an opinion, and sometimes it’s just better to agree to disagree. Respect the other person for their opinion. It might not be yours, but if they’re a trustworthy person, they might have reasons you don’t understand for thinking the way they do.

  5. I would like to get to what Liara says ” Dissolve negative energy and have only love, compassion and peace, the rest is an illusion.

  6. Mark says:

    I love a good “debate” yet often individuals take a disagreement personal. Human nature I guess yet I find it fulfilling to share difference while learning other points and views. This one is heading for the printer! Fantastic post!

  7. alik levin says:

    What I learn with kids (and they teach me a lots of stuff) in terms of persuasion I then try out in “real” life at work 😉

    Actually i think arguing is a good thing, in some way it ignites mind and thoughtful unusual ideas

    Oh, those email wars…. I used to commit that crime too. Not any more. I am exactly guided by that question these days “Alik, what do you want to accomplish”

    It is good way to persuade – agree to disagree. Agreeing in first place disarms. 100% with you!

    Will we all witness this one day? 😉 I hope so. Until then persuasion techniques seem to be very helpful for both parties, eh? 😉

  8. Gennaro says:

    It’s not always easy in the mist of an arguments, but it’s important to never get person. Stick to the issue at hand. A good way to keep the argument healthy is the recognize the other person’s point as worthy, but still be clear that you disagree.

  9. tom says:

    All i gotta say is dont fight fire with fire

  10. I’m a huge fan of Aristotle and Sacrates. I love the idea of engaging people in a discussion instead of fighting with them. I’m been practicing this, but not always successful. Especially when I know I’m right. 😉

    I think I have to be more willing to listen to their idea. Sometimes I get so caught up in my own ego that it’s hard to let go.

  11. alik levin says:

    Tanks for good words. I am huge fan of a good debate too.

    Yeah, once it gets personal it becomes pure fight and that never leads to goodness.

    That is great mantra, adopted! ;).

    Your comment resonates with me a lot! I feel like I was commenting to myself 😉 . Good stuff!

  12. You’ve made some really smart points in this post. When people get emotionally caught up in a situation, they tend to try to fight their way out, but a careful argument is more likely to win the day.

  13. Mike King says:

    Smart advice Alik and a careful area to master that is for sure. Its easy to come across as fighting if I’m convinced I’m right and it’s tough to ensure both side of an argument can actually be listened to and discussed by both parties. Getting defensive, shutting down or having an aggressive attack don’t work in a discussion. Theya re fighting actions and quite natural really.

  14. alik levin says:

    Thank you for good words 😉 .
    I have been known as a fighter for too long. I lost too many fights… Not any more. Now I am mastering my arguing skills 😉

    Thank you.
    Getting defensive turned out as one of the most limiting factors in problem solving. I realized it only recently. Better later than never, eh? 😉

  15. Hi Alik

    We can agreed to disagree but fight doesn’t get anybody anywhere. Great post, the part about the kids is very wise.
    Thank you,
    Giovanna Garcia
    Imperfect Action is better than No Action

  16. alik levin says:

    Thank you.
    My kids are my the best and the first customers :) . No wonder I am trying to apply to them best practices and wisdom I learn.

  17. I guess the real trick is to get what you want from your customer while making them think they are really the winners! My husband is a pro at this. It all comes down to selling something they value.

  18. alik levin says:

    Does your husband care to share his wisdom? Does he blog? I’d subscribe! 😉

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