You’re an Idot! How to Argue Your Point Respectfully…

Every so often you will be on an internet forum, sitting around the dinner table, or at a cocktail party, and someone else will utter an observation or an opinion which will be so completely misguided and wrong that it will make you want to smash your head against the table and weep for the future of humanity.

You might be tempted to call them a ridiculous and ill-informed idiot, but wait! If you resort to name calling and personal attacks, you will be perceived as a complete jerk no matter if people are swayed by your counter argument or not. There is another way that you can express your disagreement while holding onto your dignity and respect.

Here are some tips for arguing fairly:

Discuss the Point and Not the Speaker

Although it might feel good in a childish way, calling your opponent names is not the way to engage in an intelligent debate. Separate what the person is saying from who is saying it, and discuss the point that they are making.

Don’t try to say something like, “Well, you would say that because you are ______” or “You don’t know anything about that because you are __________”.

Think about how frustrating it would be if someone tried to discredit the point you were making by making personal comments about you!

Acknowledge What They Get Right

Listen carefully to what your debate partner is saying, and don’t forget to acknowledge the parts which do have a bit of truth to them. They could have the right facts, but might be just interpreting them in a way which doesn’t make sense.

When you say things like, “I see what you are saying about X, and I agree. However, I don’t agree with the conclusion you are making,” it shows people that you are taking their argument seriously and listening to them.

State Your Opinion and Evidence

When it’s your turn to say your piece, state your opinion clearly and succinctly. Explain what it is that you think, and provide concrete examples which support what you are trying to say.

You can even site common criticisms of your position, and explain why you think they are irrelevant or why you disagree. Say what you want to say in a straight forward and confident manner, without attacking, accusing, or blaming.

In the end, the saying “You can’t change a stubborn mind” might apply to your opponent and they may leave the situation still holding their view. However, if you have expressed yourself confidently, clearly, and respectfully you can be proud of yourself for standing up for what you believe in.


How to Start a Conversation with a Stranger

Have you ever seen someone who looks attractive, nice or interesting and thought you would love to have a chat with them? Perhaps you would like to get to know them more, or you think that they would be fun to talk to?

Unfortunately, in our society it is deemed “weird and creepy” to start talking to random strangers, and most people don’t strike up a conversation with others in public places for fear of rejection or being invasive.

Here are some ways that you can start a conversation with a stranger at a party, on a bus, or in any public space without making the situation uncomfortable:

Ask them for Help

A great way to break the ice is to ask the person for help with a problem. For example, you could ask them to give you directions or recommend a restaurant or cafe in the area.

If you are at an event, you could ask them if they know when a certain lecture or concert is supposed to start.  

If you are in an internet cafe, you could ask them, “Is your internet working? My connection is a little slow…” It’s a great way to break the tension without being creepy, because you are asking for their help which is a more acceptable conversation between strangers.

Be Natural

Don’t come in with scripted material, pickup lines or pre-rehearsed jokes. The other person will be able to tell that your speech is not natural and it will come across as fake and strange.

It’s not important what you say, as long as you say it naturally and from the heart, in the moment. Don’t forget to smile!

It’s all About Them

When you are chatting with someone you don’t know, try to focus on them rather than yourself. Everyone loves to talk about themselves, so asking them questions will encourage them to open up to you. Also, you will be out of the spotlight so you are not forced to put on a show.

Gauge Their Reaction

When you use one of these conversation starting techniques, make sure that you are paying attention to the way the other person reacts. If they enthusiastically begin chatting back to you, you can feel comfortable carrying on the conversation.

If they look away, concentrate on something else, or respond with short one or two word answers, get the hint that they are not interested in talking to you. Don’t take it personally; perhaps they are just not in a good mood. Say something like “Nice chatting with you, have a good day,” and move along.

Although your mother might have told you not to talk to strangers, sometimes some of the best interactions can come from words exchanged with people you don’t know as you connect on a common bond or shared observation. You might even form a relationship or a lifelong friendship!