Hump Day Wisdom: How to Lose (Your Credibility In) An Argument

Sacrifice your credibility and you lose. Even if you win by overpowering someone with false, misleading or partial arguments, you lose. Here is a list of ways to lose:

  • Be pigheaded. Instead of listening and trying to understand the other point of view, spend your time preparing your response. Lose faster by shaking your head as if the person you are debating with is just a poor ignorant fool who just does not understand.
  • Fail to see when your opponent concedes a point. Keep hammering away at your point of view as if they still do not get it. For accelerated loss of credibility… see above.Build a case.
  • Make certain that you misrepresent the other person’s point of view, filter facts out that do not support your opinion and by all means, do not forget the sarcasm.
  • Change the roles and split hairs. This one is especially useful when you opponent actually says something grounded and credible. After all, if you cannot dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bulls**t.

Think this applies only to political debates? I took these notes while facilitating a meeting of an operating committee trying to make a testy investment decision. Hotly contested discussion is the best reason there is for a meeting. But the question a leader has to ask is: “Do I want/ need to win? Or is the debate to discover the truly best way forward for the organization?”

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