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How Understanding Your Opponent Can Help You Win Your Argument

You Do Not Understand an Issue Unless You Can Argue the Other Side

How often have you heard someone say, “I can’t understand that person’s argument.” This is supposed to be a criticism of the other person’s argument. That is, their argument is so bad, it is not understandable. The truth is, if you can’t understand another person’s argument, it is more likely because you are a poor listener or close-minded. Furthermore, you do not really understand an issue unless you can present both sides of the argument effectively. “Explain Your Opponent’s Perspective,” Ben Casnocha.

Most of Us Do Not Listen to Opposing Arguments

When you argue for something you are passionate about most of your energy is spent on developing and presenting your own argument. The person on the other side is usually doing the same thing. As a result, arguments on both sides suffer.

Why don’t we listen?

Often, you do not listen effectively to the arguments being made against the ones you are making because it is uncomfortable to listen to arguments contrary to your own. “Why We Shut Ourselves Off From Opposing Viewpoints,” by Tom Jacobs. Also, in the heat of a debate, you are afraid you will lose your train of thought and you will be less effective in presenting your argument.

Preparation is the solution

If you are afraid of listening to the other side because it will throw you off your game, you are not prepared to argue. Take the time to listen and think about the opposite side of your argument before you make yours. Do your homework before you debate. Otherwise, you are not prepared to argue. 

Reflective Listening

One way to make sure you understand the other person’s argument is to repeat it back to them in your own words. Ask them if you got it. If you did not, ask them to explain what you are missing. Continue the process until the person is satisfied. The other person should do the same for you.

You Are More Likely to Win an Argument When You First Understand Your Opponent’s Argument

Your most powerful argument is the one that takes into account both sides of the question and has the best solution. If you do not understand your opponent’s argument, you will not be able to take into account their position and the quality of your argument will suffer. Only when you listen to and understand the other side’s argument, can you craft the most powerful argument on your side. When you do this, you are more likely to win the argument. And, most important, the best arguments will be made on both sides and our world will be a better place to live in! What do you think?