Verbal skills also need good arguments

Convince people: don't argue!

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Infecting, inspiring, convincing others - this ability is essential for personal success. Everyone instinctively feels this, but not everyone succeeds. You are probably wondering how you feel about others Convince people of your ideas even more so if you yourself are convinced that your idea is brilliant, you are right, and everyone else is wrong. However, what most do in such a situation is exactly what University of Colorado psychologists would strongly advise against: argue... weighing up arguments and justifications against each other sounds sensible, but rarely convinces anyone. What really happens is that your counterpart is now even more insistent on his point of view and the fronts harden. There is a simple one trick, with which you develop a lot more persuasive power ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Convincing people: our regular self-deception

Psychology has long since become numerous Negotiation tactics known how to get what you want or win in negotiations. Even arguing is an old art form - rhetoric.

However, all of these have Meshes and Methods usually two disadvantages:

  • Either they are profound manipulative.
  • Or you have the goal, too win - not convincing.

At a Speaker duel it may still make sense to emerge victorious from the exchange of blows. That rarely helps in the job, because afterwards you still have to work with the defeated colleagues. And many a verbal battle that has been won turns out to be Pyrrhic victorybecause no one goes along afterwards or sabotages the victorious concept.

So how can you then convince your counterpart?

To do this, you first have to look at a somewhat aging study by Leonid Rozenblit and Frank Keil from Yale University: At that time, the two researchers discovered the phenomenon of Illusion of explanatory depth.

Sounds cryptic, but what it means is: very often we believe ourselves to have understood the problem best or knowing exactly how things work. We argue accordingly with conviction - until the moment when we are asked to explain to another how it works.

Know the phenomenon parents all too well: Of course we believe we understand exactly how the flush works in the toilet; why there are ebb and flow of tide twice a day or what noise the fox makes. Is finally General knowledge! Until the darned kid asks about it and asks for an explanation ... Zack, parents stutter more than some engines.

The phenomenon does not describe anything other than the classic one Self deception, whom we all like to sit on - at work, in meetings, with friends: I know better, I have the perspective, my idea is brilliant ... But can I explain it to others too ???

Become more convincing: do not justify - let explain

Researchers led by Philip Fernbach from the University of Colorado have now revived this old Yale study and in a typical way Discussion processes transfer. And lo and behold: there is an effective one here Keys to Convincing Others.

Fernbach and his team had subjects with strong (and contrary) political convictions discuss with each other, but previously divided them into two groups a:

  • The first group - classic - should present their respective point of view and go through sound justifications underpin.
  • The second group was asked, instead of arguing immediately, first to explainhow your point of view affects society - and that step by step, from start to finish.

The difference only seems minimal at first glance, as both are ultimately chains of argument. The psychological effect but differed considerably:

  • Anyone who presented arguments and reasons practically always stuck to his opinion.
  • Those who had to provide explanations, on the other hand, discovered them for themselves Gaps in his concept and recognized the advantages in the suggestions of the others, became more moderate - or even let himself be convinced.

What does that mean in practical terms?

  • Self reflection: The next time you are convinced that you are the only one to know the solution, it is better to test yourself beforehand and explain to the others - step by step - why your path is the best.
  • Persuasiveness: Conversely, if someone does not want to listen to your arguments at all, ask them not to justify their point of view, but to explain how it will work out. You are very likely to achieve more in this way than with pure rhetoric.

Convince people: How many arguments are optimal?

There are many ways of subtle manipulation. Chatting is the worst of them, and it's far too exhausting. According to studies by Suzanne Shu of the Anderson School of Business and Kurt Carlson of Georgetown University, the more decisive is the Number of arguments.

In one of their experiments, the researchers had their test subjects sprinkled with a shampoo advertisement. It was of course coiffed and, depending on which group saw the clip, contained two, three, four, five or six typical arguments for the shampoo - something like "XYZ makes hair healthier, stronger, softer, shinier, fuller …" The usual.

Both before and afterwards, the scientists checked the attitudes of their participants towards the product, their willingness to test it, possibly even an immediate buying impulse or their skepticism.

In short: the results were clear ...

  • The optimal number of arguments was a maximum of three. Here there was the highest reaction rate to buying impulses.
  • From the fourth argument onwards, something else happened: Skepticism rose rapidly. And with every further argument, the resistance to believe the arguments at all.

So if you have to convince your boss (or colleagues) of something, state a maximum of three points that speak for it. None more. And if you want to write a slogan for your product or want to sell something to a customer: three arguments are always better than two.

But also the Order of arguments itself plays a role.

We now know from rhetoric that the most convincing argumentation is structured as follows:

  • The second best argument goes at the beginning. It has the greatest impact on the atmosphere in the conversation and willingness to convince (or your counterpart is waving it off), attracts the greatest attention and is moderately impressed.
  • The weakest argument belongs in the middle - it is often overheard and the quickest way to forget it.
  • The best comes for last: Here you have to score with the strongest argument. It reverberates, lasts the longest, and this is where the further discussion takes place. If you want to contradict you, you have to get past this first.

Convince: How to deal with notorious skeptics correctly

Anyone who comes up with a new concept or suggestion for improvement will meet you sooner rather than later Skeptics and critics. Admittedly, this can be extremely valuable and save you from bad mistakes.

But there is also the group of notorious nonsenseers, doubters and complainerswho are always looking for a fly in the ointment to feast on. Suspicion and mistrust are their attitude, behind which they hide their own inability to innovate and think freely. Quite a few critics like themselves in this role because they feel so (finally, sometimes) superior and at the same time remain unassailable - after all, they do not provide their own constructive counter-proposal, which in turn could then be put to the test.

To meet such a skeptic is anything but pleasant or edifying; Convincing him is almost impossible. Somebody like that just robs everyone enthusiasm and on top of that creates a bad mood.

Recognize skeptics: body language and typical techniques

You can tell that you are dealing with a skeptic not only from what he says. Already through the Body language the doubters give themselves away clearly. For example, notice this Signals on your counterpart, you have not yet convinced him:

  • Cross your arms in front of your body. A typically repellent posture - and a clear sign of a defensive contradiction stance.
  • Put your arms on your hips. If the person you are talking to puts his arms on his hips, you can be sure that he still has something to complain about.
  • Scratch your head. The gesture signals disbelief. True to the motto: He didn't really suggest that, did he?

However, a few belong to the nature of the skeptic typical techniquesthat are supposed to wear you down or make you feel insecure. You should also know these:

  • to ask

    The classic approach of a skeptic is the critical questions. Every detail is questioned in the hope of finding another point of attack or a weak point. As soon as something is unclear, he will focus on it and ask for more detailed information.

  • Wait

    Instead of asking directly, some skeptics prefer the tactic of waiting. The system waits until an error or problem occurs. As soon as the time comes, the skeptic shows up and gives a lecture on how predictable the failure was from the start.

  • To research

    Missionary skeptics, in particular, only conduct research in their own interest: They look for errors in your idea or its implementation. At the same time, they inform themselves extensively about possible statistics or studies that they can bring against the idea in order to reinforce the doubts. Of course, they are only looking for contra-arguments, the pro-arguments are regularly ignored.

How to properly deal with skeptics

The headline is deliberately “bypass”, not “convince”. The suspicion is often like this, especially with chronic curmudges deeply rooted in characterthat persuasion is likely to fuel their distrust and resistance even further. But well, you grow with your tasks and you may not even have to deal with such a man of conviction ...

In order to finally convince a skeptic, however, it takes a lot Patience, sure instinct and commitment. Only through passionate explanations, practical examples, and likely benefits can someone like this be softened in the end. But often only if you give him a back door to save face.

How can that be achieved? For example like this ...

  1. See the positive

    Criticizing your own idea is never nice at first. After all, you have thought of something and are convinced that you can ensure a successful implementation. Instead of reacting with frustration, you should recognize and appreciate the positive side. A suspicious point of view makes it possible to recognize possible difficulties early on and to avoid them. So don't shut yourself off from criticism out of pride, but accept it gratefully.

  2. Do not create pressure

    With pressure you can only achieve the opposite with a skeptic. He will close himself even further and see your approach as an indication that he is right with his mistrust. Also formulations like "If you give me the chance, I'll show you that ..." or "I am sure that it will turn out like this" are counterproductive. For a true skeptic, these are nothing but words intended to distract from problems.

  3. Prepare yourself well

    For a skeptic there is only one valid argument: facts. This is precisely why preparation is essential if you want to convince a skeptic of yourself or an idea. Name specific facts, studies, figures or tests that underpin your project. If the other person notices that you are showing uncertainty in an area, they will stop right there. Offer a small area of ​​attack right from the start by appearing competently.

  4. Take your time for his objections

    Ignoring a skeptic goes wrong in many cases. He will always speak out with objections and if something does not go according to plan, he will be the first to speak to you "I said it right away" running up and down on his lips in the office. Answer his questions and take the time to adequately clarify his reservations.

  5. Ask questions

    Dealing with a skeptic is always a struggle for details. That is an enormous effort. It is all the more important to ask him questions. Ask him to explain his position and his doubts in detail (see above) and make him responsible to work constructively on a solution - for example by making a better proposal. On the one hand, this signals your openness to his objections, but it also confirms your desire to come to a joint solution.

  6. Never feel attacked

    A skeptic usually doesn't mean it badly, and in the vast majority of cases their distrust is not based on personal dislike. It's just his way of dealing with uncertainty. Therefore, do not react in a snappy or snotty manner to the headwind, but always remain objective. Only when the skeptic becomes recognizably personal, remains unapologetic, defiant and offended, you should address this and make it clear to everyone: Such a style is neither valued, nor is it professional or solution-oriented.

Convince with the ICE method

Of course, this does not mean bribing the person you are talking to with ice cream or taking them by train. Rather, it is the abbreviation ICE an acronym from English. It is:

  • Interest

    First, change your perspective and find the topics that are interesting (because relevant) for your interlocutor - regardless of your own idea. So it's about understanding the other and their interests.

  • Concern

    After you understand your counterpart a little better, it is important to identify the potential concerns and doubts. But not only those with a view to your idea, but also general problems that your interlocutor could have on the radar: demands and stresses; Guidelines he or she must adhere to ... Proactively addressing them lowers resilience.

  • emotion

    Every new idea always triggers emotions. Often the person you are talking to brings them into the group - and they influence the conversation even though they have nothing to do with the matter at all. Whoever manages to grasp this emotional situation in advance through small talk and respond to it creates a much more personal connection and thus more persuasive power.

The ICE formula is essentially not an argumentation tactic, but rather the structured attempt to better understand the convincing one in advance, its motives, influences and potential objections in order to be prepared for them and to respond better.

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January 11, 2021Author: Jochen Mai

Jochen Mai is the founder and editor-in-chief of the career bible. The author of several books lectures at the TH Köln and is a sought-after keynote speaker, coach and consultant.

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