These are the most successful tactics to help you get your point across in a courteous and educated way.
Drake Baer contributed to an earlier version of this story.
Attacking someone's ideas puts them into fight-or-flight mode. Once they're on edge, there will be no getting through to them.
So if you want to be convincing, practice 'extreme agreement': Take your conversational partner's views and advance them to their logical -- and perhaps absurd -- conclusion.
Contrary to what your debate coach said, arguments aren't rational.
So respect the other person's perspective, no matter how ridiculous it sounds.
'When people have their self-worth validated in some way, they tend to be more receptive to information that challenges their beliefs,' political psychologist Peter Ditto from the University of California at Irvine tells New York Magazine.
With that emotional connection established, you can then start getting logical.
If you're in a spat with your spouse, couples psychologist John Gottman says to ask questions that allow him or her to open up.
• How would you change it if you had all the money in the world?
• What do you want your life to be like in three years?
• How do you like your job?
It works in arguments at work, too -- open-ended questions help transform competitive interactions into cooperative ones.
People don't listen to the smartest person in the room.
A 2013 study found that they listen to the people who act as if they know what is right.
University of Utah management professor Bryan Bonner says people unconsciously look for 'messy proxies for expertise' like extroversion, gender, race, or confidence level instead of paying attention to what people are actually saying.
'We'd hope that facts would be the currency of influence,' Bonner told The Wall Street Journal. 'But often, we guess at who's the expert -- and we're wrong.'
In 'Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,' Robert Cialdini says 'social proof' is one of the best tactics for getting people to see things your way. It exploits the well-documented tendency for people to conform to others' opinions, even if they're strange.
According to social proof, we assume what other people are doing is the correct behaviour in a situation. It is the reason long lines in front of a restaurant make the food inside seem so tantalising. It is also why having the endorsement of a celebrity -- like William Shatner -- is such an effective marketing tool.
A new study from Cornell University researchers Aner Tal and Brian Wansink shows that people trust scientists. Thus, doing things that make you appear scientific -- like using a graph -- makes you more trustworthy.
'The prestige of science appears to grant persuasive power even to such trivial science-related elements as graphs,' Tal and Wansink write.
A story about how your uncle or your college roommate eats loads of butter and still stays fit is an anecdote.
But if you want to be taken seriously, you need to use data, the kind that's arrived at through peer-reviewed studies with large sample sizes.
Better yet, go for consensus.
'Scientists often use 'consensus' as the ultimate argument-winner, and for good reason,' Jacquelyn Gill writes on Contemplative Mammoth. 'Scientific consensus is the collected opinions of all scientists, and not just the one you're arguing with. There can be one or two scientists who disagree (just like there are a handful of people who don't believe the Holocaust happened), but if the vast majority of scientists have reached consensus, it means that there is so much evidence in support of an idea that it's basically a guaranteed thing, based on state-of-the-art knowledge.'
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