As we mark the first post-Trump Thanksgiving, the best advice about arguments might be to try not to have them, at least for today.
But knowing they’re probably inevitable, now seems like a good time to share the ultimate secret to winning them. In fact, with this secret, I can promise you that you’ll win every single argument you ever have, from here on out.
Are you ready? Here it is:
Be willing to lose, and you never will.
Surprise! Winning is not actually the point of an argument. The point, although it can be hard to guess from our Facebook feeds, is to advance knowledge. And if your goal is more knowledge – and why wouldn’t it be? – you’ll never lose.
Because even if you lose, you win.
On the other hand, if you never lose, you never learn.
And how could that be a real victory? “Hurray! I’ve never learned a thing! In me, knowledge remains stalled forever!”
If you want to be a great arguer, emulate one of the greatest, Socrates: focus on questions, not answers. The answers will take care of themselves.
Now maybe you think I’m just asking you to be impossibly virtuous. So let me divulge that this practice also has a sneaky side benefit: if you can be genuinely open to new facts, if you can – and this is crucial – change your opinion in the face of those new facts (stay with me now), you’re likely to become more well-informed.
And the more well-informed you become, the more reality is going to be on your side.
And that’s the best ally you could have.
Because reality – even in the age of Trump – has a way of winning in the end.