Credibility is a valuable commodity, whether it’s at the work place or within your group of friends. Sometimes we start a new job and are trying to make sure our opinions are respected and valued, other times it’s trivia night at the local pub and you want to make sure your team listens to you when you’re sure you have the game winning answer.
Beyond the time it takes to build a solid reputation as the guru on widgets, MMA, or Microsoft Excel there are many tricks that you can try to get people listening to you faster and more often, and taking your word without consulting Google. These skills not only help when you’re trying to convince everyone that you’re correct, they will also help you increase your likability on a whole, help you achieve conflict resolution during stressful times, and can even have a tremendous impact on your overall personal and professional success. Even if you are the self-appointed master at influencing the masses a little tune up and a few additional tricks up your sleeve aren’t going to hurt. Testing over a million people at Talent Smart has shown that 90 percent of top performers in their respective fields have high emotional intelligence (also known as EQ). Here’s how you handle critical conversations, debates and moments to make sure that everyone thinks you’re right.
15. Do Your Research & Learn Power Words
Simple research and a little leg work will let you showcase your real authority, because you’ll actually be correct. If you’re going into a meeting and you know the topic, do a little research beforehand. Reading recent reports and articles on the topic at hand, especially opposing views to ensure you’re considering all angles, will show that you’ve literally completed your homework.
You might discover that you were incorrect, which is totally okay, and because you tackled some research ahead of time you’ll be less likely to be caught off guard when people are asking follow-up questions, and better prepared to formulate solutions and strategies for success.
Some people help boost their confidence by beefing up on a vocabulary of 50 cent words that make them appear more intelligent. The following words may make you sound more cultured and educated when you need to convince people you’re oh so smart: avant-garde, bravado, esoteric, fastidious, idyllic, maudlin, or scintillating.
14. You’re Not A Shark, So Don’t Attack People
Boxing, wrestling and martial arts have rules of conduct and so should real life, even if many of these rules are unwritten. It’s shocking how often some people think that bullying others will get them their way. Making people believe in you and what you say is a marathon, not a sprint, so keep this in mind before you say something you’re going to regret.
People who make directed attacks on other people’s lifestyles, integrity, or trustworthiness are really hitting below the belt. If you’re being attacked this way there are easy ways to diffuse the situation and make the other party aware of how this is unfair and unreasonable, and to take the high road. By simply saying something like, “It surprises me that you’re attacking me personally like this. It would probably be for the best if you stuck to the real issues here instead of getting off track.”
13. Keep Your Eyes On The Prize
Distraction is a real quick way to take the wind out of your sails and get your argument off course. Some opponents will actively try to throw you off of your game by introducing tangential or unrelated themes to keep you off the topic you’re really looking to address, particularly when you’re winning the debate. Sometimes this is a sneaky move, whereas other times it’s a key to what the other party really wants, so pay attention. In a meeting you can ask a colleague to discuss this item later, particularly when it has little to do with what’s being debated. It is entirely acceptable to address it when something has gone off topic to help bring everyone back to the big issues at hand. Make sure you follow-up with that person about the other items later as this shows that you have listened and that you are about keeping your word. If you notice your audience’s body language shows they aren’t really listening, get them engaged by asking them a question.
12. Be Sneaky, But Use This Trick Sparingly
Sometimes some punchy statements thrown at your opponent, particularly when it’s all in good fun can be a great way to get them off their A game. When you say these quips, be sure to be confident and brief for maximum impact. Some great lines include: ‘That is beside the point’, ‘that begs the question…’, ‘don’t compare apples and oranges’, ‘Where did you find this research?’, ‘What are your parameters?’
Others like to take note of what topics and trends routinely distract their opponent from their point, so if you’ve found a hot button issue to distract their main argument you may want to use it. Another classic trick is to exaggerate your adversary’s position to deem it unreasonable. Just remember not to get carried away, as you may become perceived as the jerk, or the bully. Remember your audience as well, because if this is a debate for an audience it’s a whole other can of worms than when it’s a closed door meeting. Theatrics don’t really have a place in the board room, but they might the next time its movie night and you want everyone to pick what you want.
11. Don’t Water Down Your Argument
When you make your lists, review them a few times for perspective, look at which points are the most persuasive and which ones are the weakest links. If you have three or four really strong points and one or two weaker ones, it might be time to avoid mentioning them all together, even if you aren’t winning the debate. Three or four strong and memorable points will be a more convincing and confident way to get people’s attention. By bringing up small and insignificant points you could appear petty. Time is important to everyone, don’t waste their time with unnecessary points that won’t matter to them. If your weaker points are easily countered by your colleague you’ve essentially painted yourself into a corner. It’s better to keep it strong and keep it simple.
10. Avoid Words & Phrases That Make You Look Silly
To further strengthen what you’re saying some people avoid saying certain words or phrases since they can chip away at your credibility including: whatever, literally, totally, legit, and no worries. Culture is becoming more casual but that doesn’t mean you make up a word that doesn’t exist or reeks of slang when you’re in a professional setting.
If you are unsure of what a word means, just don’t say it. Nothing will shake people’s impression in your knowledge or credibility on a particular subject, or in general, than repeatedly using a name wrong. When writing something or prior to a presentation take a minute to Google a word to make sure you have the context correct. Make sure that your language is inclusive and sensitive to ensure that you aren’t offending anyone. Certain words that seem like colloquial language may have offensive implications, so be careful!
9. Understand Your Opponents’ Achilles Heel
The better you understand your opponent and their position the better you know their strengths and weaknesses. You can utilize this by turning their arguments back on them. By simply asking intelligent and well thought out questions you will be gaining the insight that you want and need to receive in order to win the argument. Get an idea of what the other side really wants, it might not be all that different from what you’re looking for after all. Before deciding your final position on something make sure you really get what everyone else sees as a win. This goes back to EQ again, and if you understand why someone might be getting upset, angry, or really wants their way, you’ll be better prepared to determine the correct strategy. The best won arguments are when your opponent believes the solution was their own idea.
8. Show Others That You Respect Their Opinions
People are often afraid to ask others for help, but it’s been proven that asking for advice from others actually makes them think that you’re smarter. A Former FBI behavioural analyst named Robin Dreeke says asking others for their opinion is his “go to” technique for building a solid rapport with someone quickly. This technique creates a positive bond because it shows them that you respect what they have to say. Others will also pay close attention to how you react to their opinion, so don’t tell them that they’re incorrect or make an immediate negative judgement about what they’ve just said. Another helpful tip is to include others in your conversation and remaining positive, only saying nice things about others because when you say bad things about others those listening will unconsciously associate you, and not necessarily the person you’re talking about, with the negative qualities you’re talking about.
7. Be Respectful AND Persuasive
Mirroring people’s body language is a great way to create an instant bond because it subtly says to others “I’m like you”. Research reveals that those who have the same emotions are more likely to have an increase in trust and connection. On the opposite end, tearing someone down and showing that you’re “better”, “stronger” and “smarter” than them isn’t going to make you any friends. Victory through humiliation, particularly when it’s someone you have to see on a regular basis like a colleague, cousin or acquaintance is bullying and sooner or later it will come back to bite you.
It will also result in additional conflicts and awkward situations moving forward, particularly because the only thing you’ll have gained is enemies. What’s the point of having amazing ideas and being right if you can’t convince anyone to listen? Insulting or degrading your adversaries reflects badly on you, not them, so put on your “big boy” or “big girl” pants and act like a polite and respectful adult, period.
6. Stay Cool!
Getting emotional about something isn’t going to help you win an argument. If you lose your temper, yell, or freak out, you’ll escalate things up and not down. Even if the person you’re trying to convince of something starts cranking up their volume, resist the urge to do so yourself. People will give you extra credits and points for remaining as cool as a cucumber under stress, and it won’t be seen as a sign of weakness. Someone who displays a more reasoned perspective on something appears more logical and in control when compared to someone ranting and raving and carrying on. Who would you want to side with, the angry person huffing and puffing, or the calm and collected person who doesn’t need to shout to be really heard?
5. Practise Active Listening
It’s easy to get so wrapped up in what you’re going to say next that you ignore what your opponent is actually saying and simply assume what their argument may be. This is a foolish approach to debate, even though it’s understandable to want to keep what you’re going to say in mind. Simply have some notes written down to remind you of your points so you can actually listen to what the other person is saying. You may even learn something.
Be prepared to concede and acknowledge when someone has made a good point, don’t argue the minutia of everything, this wastes everyone’s time and makes you appear to be unreasonable. You can agree with what they say and then build on it for your own side of the argument. This will show others that you are listening, open-minded, and are both thoughtful and respectful in your responses, all qualities of someone who wins an argument.
4. Appear To Be Open Minded, Even If You’re Not Feeling It
You don’t need to agree with what someone says to understand their perspective, and if you’re going to enter a debate or argument with someone you need to be able to figure out how the opposing side views the world. Maybe they’re feeling threatened; if you react to this by showing a little empathy it will allow the heat to simmer and lead everyone to a quicker resolution. On the same page, don’t be defensive, as it’s not going to win you any arguments (or friends). Take a pause to provide a thoughtful summary of their position to show that you are actually listening. Don’t interrupt and be sure to allow the other person to talk. Bad manners and rudeness aren’t going to win you the favour of any opponent, allies, or decision makers.
3. Appeal To People’s “Higher Values”
By doing the leg work ahead of time and listening to understand the position of others, you’ll be in a better place to appeal to what matters most to them. This is where those with a higher EQ really flourish over those who don’t. Trying to appeal to a parent about the value of environmental regulations to someone who has children, talk to them about how this will benefit the future of their kids, or even grand kids in the grand scheme of things. Because you’ve done your research you can also cite quotes, quips, or research from places you know your opponent respects in order to help them draw the conclusion you want them to, or at least bring them a little closer towards reaching a mutually acceptable compromise.
2. Seek Out A Resolution & Be Prepared To Compromise
We all see this in the movies, in Star Wars we cheer for the rebellion to beat out the evil empire, just like everyone wants to see Batman defeat the Joker. This is because invoking a sense of hope is a pretty powerful thing. Because arguments, even civil ones, involve some negative emotion, so a little positivity can go a long way. Extraordinary problem solving isn’t about an epic battle of wits and wills, it’s coming to a resolution, often together. Winning an argument involves convincing everyone, including your opponent, so working together is the best possible solution. Thinking outside of the box can take you to an “ah-ha” moment that will lead you, and possibly also your opponent to a win, which is a pretty ideal situation as this way everyone’s pride and dignity remains intact.
1. Knock It Out Of the Ballpark Right Away With A Solid First Impression
A good first impression is a great way to get started with getting people to see your perspective or points on important matters. Genuine smiles, not fake ones, are a great start; credible research shows that people can tell the difference between a real smile and a phony one. Shake hands when you meet someone as it’s been shown that those who shake hands are going to have increased feelings and positive perceptions of others. Other ways to make people like you from the start include repeating their name once after you are introduced to show you’re paying attention, just like looking directly at them. If you’re darting your eyes around the room to see if someone more important has come in people will notice, and they’ll think a lot less of you.