Have constructive arguments by acknowledging common ground, making strong points, asking open questions, and showing emotional variety


  1. Acknowledge common ground and your opponent’s valid points
    You are searching for the truth, and are open to new information.

  2. Concentrate on a few strong, cohesive, compelling points
    Strong points cause people to doubt their opinion. Too many different reasons can cause others to reject your entire argument based on its weakest points.

  3. Show humility and ask genuine questions to reinforce freedom of choice
    People may resist because they’re feeling pressured. Respect their autonomy by asking genuine questions and letting them think and choose for themselves.

  4. Expand your emotional range during conversations
    A productive conversation requires a broad set of emotions. You may feel frustrated, but try to also show curiosity, or even confusion or ambivalence.

  5. If emotions are running hot, try redirecting the discussion to the process
    Express your disappointment or frustration and ask your opponent if they share it. I’m disappointed in the way this discussion has unfolded—are you frustrated with it?

  6. If you reach an impasse, agree to disagree whilst being open to understanding the other person’s stance and to learning from the process
    An impasse should start a new conversation with a focus on understanding and learning rather than arguing and persuading. Reflect on how you could have handled the argument more effectively, and use what you learn the next time you discuss this.


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