Summary of How to Win Any Argument

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  • Applicable


It would be nice to recommend this book to everyone, because the world would be a better place if everyone either: A) played by these rules when arguing, or B) used these techniques when people were trying to persuade them. Anybody can learn these methods, which range from recommendations to stay calm to suggestions on shaping your message according to context. All are useful and presented in clear principles and vivid illustrations. However, getting most opponents to accept these rules would be nearly impossible. Robert Mayer is an attorney, but if you suppose (given the stereotype about wily lawyers) that he adds in some manipulative, tactical tricks, the weakness in his book is actually the opposite. Mayer mostly discusses ethical arguments, seeks win-win outcomes and seems to assume that you’ll always be arguing with upright people. Because of this, he focuses on crafting your message - and does a superior job - but essentially doesn’t touch on how to deal with abusive situations, entrenched irrationality, or simple threats and lying. getAbstract recommends this book with a drop of cynical caution: if you are naïve anyway, and must argue, also get some tougher, more wary advice. You may still wonder How to Win Any Argument if you end up opposing someone who is determined to win at any cost.

About the Author

Robert Mayer holds business and law degrees from the University of California at Berkeley. He and his firm negotiate worldwide in many different industries, from music to real estate. He teaches seminars in negotiation and presents cruise ship lectures about haggling.



Start with Yourself

Plan to win arguments by clearly defining what the arguments are about, and what you need to do to win them. While you want a solid base of logic, most arguments are won by emotion. Most of the reasons people do things are not rational. Your goal is to access the factors that motivate people and to use them as leverage points to win arguments. Conflict is part of any relationship, but being in conflict does not mean you have to get hurt or lose your emotional balance. Most people do though, so you’ll have a big advantage if you can stay calm. Maintaining a calm inner self protects you from being influenced by emotions, from coloring the world to match your expectations and from treating false information as if it were real. Staying calm will let you walk away from arguments you don’t need to win, or abandon positions you are clinging to out of pride or habit. From that place of calm, seek the underlying reasons for any argument. Look for the hidden messages behind the words. Stay cool, and give your full attention to building connections, and listening for cues and clues.

The Consent Zone

A "consent zone" is a conceptual space that you ...

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