You don’t need to be a seasoned lawyer to win a debate.
A research carried out by Lillian Lee and her PhD students at Cornell University has revealed a range of techniques that will help you win any argument. The researchers analyzed almost two years of posts in ChangeMyView, a forum site where users invite others to challenge their opinions and give alternative views to events.
In this site, users post statements and questions and invite others to comment. If a user is able to successfully persuade the original poster (OP) towards a different opinion, the OP awards the user with a “delta”.
Here are some of what the researchers observed:
- When it comes to timing, the first person to respond to the thread has a bigger chance of swaying the view of the OP towards a different view rather than someone who participates in the debate later on.
- Users who use different terminologies compared to those used in the post have a higher chance of winning the argument.
- Rather than using aggressive terms, those who use “calm” language are more likely to win the argument.
- Those with longer replies were seen as more persuasive.
- Using statistics, numbers and examples to back up opinions make users sound more convincing.
- Although quotes were less effective in convincing someone, citing examples through links and outside sources actually works.
- Softening the tone of the argument may make it easier to accept.
- Determine if the person is open-minded or stubborn through their language. Open-minded people often use the word “I”, while stubborn use the words “we” and “us”. Moreover, they use decisive words such as “certain”, “best” and “nothing”.
- The researchers also discovered that after four or five “back and forth” posts, the chances of changing someone’s view significantly decreases.