Thursday, February 23, 2006

Nine Tips to Sharpen Your Rhetoric

Some people enjoy confrontation and other people recoil from it. If you are to get anywhere in the business world, however, you have to be prepared to argue your point, says William A. Rusher in his Bottom Line article “How to Win Any Argument”.

1. Decide why you want to argue. What is the objective? Whatever your conclusion may be, it is critical to shaping your strategy.

2. Know your opponent – what is their attitude to the subject and to you personally? What are their weaknesses and strengths? Is it a longtime foe or a mild-mannered person who simply disagrees with your idea?

3. Be measured in your response to the opposition. If you overwhelm your opponent, he may gain sympathy for appearing to be the underdog. Another risk is that you will create an atmosphere of ill-will and damage your relationship.

4. Make sure you have all the facts to support your position.

5. Use basic principles to support your case and appeal to common sense.

6. If your opponent invokes principles too, have a ready strategy. Cite extreme examples that highlight the flaws in your opponent’s principles or at least their limitations. Ask your rival questions to gain information, and which force him to acknowledge facts that may undermine his case.

7. Be sure to make eye contact.

8. No matter how emotional or passionate the subject matter may be, it’s important to maintain a polite demeanor. Listen to your opponent and try to avoid interrupting him.

9. Use exaggeration or understatement to stress your point and make your approach seem more sensible.

10. If you make a mistake, admit it quickly and briefly and then move on.

11. Know when not to argue. Rusher says that if your opponent is “frivolous, stupid or mean” you should avoid getting into a confrontation with them.

If you know how to defend your principles and have a civilized argument with your opponent, you’ll persuade your friends and business partners to respect your viewpoints, maintain your vision for your company and you’ll build a stronger business.

No comments: