Spence: The Value of Argument

Now that we have set the stage, onward to how to argue well — based on Gerry Spence from his book “How to Argue and Win Every Time”. Enjoy!

The first reason why folks do not argue well is that they do not see the value of it. Why not? We are taught as children not to cry, not to complain. We are bound by rules. Just like the Chinese girls of 100 years ago had their feet bound, we have had our souls bound. We see argument as a negative rather than a positive. This is the first lock. And the key is to give ourselves permission.

The second reason is fear. Fear of failure or causing trouble. It is a second lock. The key is to recognize that fear is both friend and foe. Fear stimulates. It heightens our perceptions. For this reason, we need to learn how to embrace fear. It is the painful embrace of our being. The dead are not afraid. But we can shout “I am!” and with this exclamation, argument begins.  It beings when you confront your fear. It is a “magical yes!.

Argument is the gift of ourselves to “the other”. We live by giving ourselves this way to get closer to truth and justice and all of the values that we claim to be larger than ourselves. The art of argument is the art of living.

but we do not argue well by copying others who we think argue well. Nor do we live by imitation. We do not strive all to be the same. Indeed, our authority comes from our individuality. And it is unique. No one else can make that argument. This is the key to making winning arguments.

Will anyone listen? Wisdom usually does not fall from high places. The mighty and splendid teach us little.  Children teach us far more. And we teach ourselves as we learn form ourselves. One cannot see the path without traveling that path, which gives the authority to make people listen.

What are they listening for? They are listening for a shared authority. The other person retains his or her authority as do you. If they have none, then there is point in arguing at all. You are talking to a lamp post. Winning arguments does not require giving up authority. It is sharing authority that we both see.

Next – When to argue? Stay tuned!



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