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Seven ways to argue. What is yours?


Disagreeing is normal. The problem arises in the way we do it. Doing it properly means knowing how to defend our criteria and find a common solution

We all argue.

We are faced with different points of view or interests that make us debate at home, at work or on social media.

Disagreeing is normal.

The problem arises in the way we do it.

Discussing properly has art and science.

It means knowing how to

defend our criteria and find a common solution while taking care of the relationship.

The effectiveness of what we say depends on the level at which we move in our discussions, whether personal or professional.

To analyze the way in which we argue, we can rely on the work done by Paul Graham, a computer programmer and essayist who, in 2008, published the hierarchy of discrepancies.

Let's take a tour of the proposed levels to identify them in our day to day:

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1. Refute the central point

. It is the highest and most difficult level to find. Great negotiators are able to move comfortably through it. They do not attack the person, nor the tone.

They seek to refute the opinion of the other, but relying on reasoning.

And what is more important: they are able to go to the central point of the discussion and not beat around the bush, as is popularly said. Taking into account the conversation of the previous level, refuting the central point would be: "I do not agree with a low performance, since I have achieved the indicators that we defined at the beginning of the year", which goes beyond whether or not it has been late to work, which is not the most important thing.

2. Rebuttal. It is the second level in which the arguments with which there is disagreement are identified, but also their own are expressed.

As you can imagine, each time you climb the pyramid, it is less frequent to find this level. At this point we rely on ideas or details of what the other person exposed, but the main argument is not addressed. For example, in a discussion with a boss who is not satisfied with our work, the answer would be: “I do not agree with being late every day; yesterday and today I have been punctual ”. It is correct, but the underlying problem is another.

3. Counter-argument.

This grade builds on the previous one, but adds some evidence expressed by third parties.

It is the first phase of convincing disagreement that helps us to be more persuasive, but it lacks the richness of self-opinion making.

For example: "I do not agree with you because, as Seneca said ...".

4. Contradiction. At this stage the content is addressed

, rather than the person or the tone. However, it

is supported by generalizations or data with little evidence

. For example, when we say: "Everyone knows that this is done like this." In this section we can fall into certain home discussions that begin with words as


as always, never ... There are many examples: "You never take out the garbage" or "You are always late". Again, this is not a building level.

5. Responding to the tone.

This level is less offensive than the previous ones, but it doesn't help much either.

The argument is discarded because of the way in which it has been presented

without addressing the merits of the matter. "It is impossible to agree with how arrogant he has been," for example. Tone cannot be measured. It may have sounded unfortunate, but taking it apart for the tone doesn't help to find a common solution either.


Ad Hominem

or against the person.

In this case

, an attempt is made to demolish an argument based on the characteristics of the person presenting it, not on what he or she says

. As Graham argues, if a senator advocates the need to raise politicians' salaries, the response at this level would be: “Of course I would. He is a senator ”. It does not go into the substance of the matter. At this level live the unconscious biases or labels that we put on people: "You know, so and so said it."

7. Insult.

It is the lowest level of any discussion

and possibly the most common on social media.

The anonymity of certain networks, such as Twitter, makes the insult run freely.

This category includes phrases such as "what a idiocy" or any derogatory comment.

It only serves to anger the other (except for those who use it as a tool to be popular or with specific interests in social networks).

Pilar Jericó

is an entrepreneur, writer, lecturer, PhD in Business Organization and disseminator of research on human behavior.

Source: elparis

All news articles on 2021-04-21

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