Most of us like a good argument from time to time, especially if the argument is a debate with plenty of to and fro, give and take. It’s stimulating, a muscular workout for the brain. However there are certain guidelines which are best followed or the debate turns into a mud slinging match. Unless of course you never wanted a debate at all, but were intent on getting down and dirty in wet earth.
If your opening gambit in an argument is – You’re wrong because I say so and I’m right – then you’ve lost your audience before you’ve even started. Which was probably what you were going for, the fewer witnesses you have, the better, then when you change your story of how things happened, no one can argue with you or prove you wrong.
Intelligent and stupid people both agree on one thing – they don’t like to be told they’re wrong – even if they are wrong, even if they know they are wrong, but especially if they think they are right.
Telling someone they are wrong because you are right, well, try it, see how well things go. You might win. Because that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it. It’s not about learning, sharing information and views, expanding your knowledge, or anything as illogical as that.
It’s all about right or wrong, win or lose.
Those are the things which matter in life. The fact that right and wrong are mostly a matter of opinion, a viewpoint from one particular perspective, which may or may not be shared by others… Ah! But the more people you can convince to share your opinion, makes your viewpoint more valid. Justification in numbers. Then you can build an army and use it to intimidate those who disagree. That’s how reality is created and made solid. Build a wall, add fortifications, an army to guard it and call it the castle of rightness.
If you want to prove to your opponent that your stance has no legs to keep it standing up, resort to personal insults. That always works. People love to be insulted, especially when it has no relevance to the actual subject being discussed. And it is a good method for hiding the fact that you don’t know as much about the subject used to start the argument as you claim you do. Your opponent will be so blinded by the personal insult, caught up in the need to defend themselves against an unwarranted attack, that they will forget what the original subject was entirely.
This is particularly useful when dealing with someone who knows more than you do, or whom you suspect may be more intelligent than you – a horrible crime on their part especially if you are determined to be the smartest smarty in the smarty tube, and your fear is whispering in your ear urging you to call them something hurtful. You’ve probably used this tactic before and found it to be very efficient in deflecting attention from the matter at hand to not the matter at hand at all. In fact your expertise in the hurling insults department is probably superior to your knowledge of the original subject.
Use your strengths to hide your weaknesses.
Finally, flash some credentials to prove you know what you’re talking about, even if those credentials don’t do anything of the sort, even if they actually make your opponent realise just how weak your position is.
Credential flashing is the sign of someone who thinks they’re losing, and it’s an attempt to win some ground or distract from the slipping down the slippery slope. Age is one of the best credentials to flash, as the other person has this credential too, and so they may feel their credential is better than yours and get so caught up in proving that, that yet again the original subject of the argument gets lost in the credential flashing kerfuffle.
If you flash a credential which your opponent doesn’t have, they may be so stunned by how flashy it is, especially if the credential indicates that you should have more knowledge than you are displaying, that they will switch off and stop listening to you. Your opponent switching off works in your favour, as your debate can now turn into a boring monologue, which is probably what you wanted all along, if you wanted a debate you wouldn’t have used diversion tactics.
Ultimately, make sure your argument is designed to be a self-brainwashing session, wherein you confirm that you were right all along, always will be, and no one can take this belief to which you cling for dear life away from you.
*An extract from – How to be an Annoying Human (not available from anywhere unless someone else has already written this in which case this is not an extract from it, unless it is, and I’m plagiarising something I was certain that I just wrote on the spur of the moment after dealing with an extended family member who uses all the tactics mentioned above)