7 Steps To Prove Someone Wrong In An Argument Without Hurting Them

Posted on Posted in Communication, employee employer relation, How to, Office

To prove someone wrong in an argument:

is one of the most fun things to, especially when you hate them! But it does become quite challenging how to point it out to someone you really like and more importantly how to make sure that they are not hurt by this. Few of the following steps might help

prove someone wrong in an argument, heated argument about a mistake, how to prove someone wrong

How important is the mistake?

Try and identify how important pointing out the mistake is, is it something trivial or something that is very important. If it is something trivial, try asking the next question – what is more important to you – The person or being right? I know being right is a great feeling, but not at the cost of your counterpart feeling bad about it. I’d strongly side the person over the matter, esp when the matter is just about being right or wrong and not many stakes are attached to it. I guess sometimes the person precedes being right or wrong and we should be in a place to take that call

How important is it to prove someone wrong in an argument?

Well the person might say that a dog has 6 legs, and I agree it is blatantly wrong. But I would again revisit that question, it might just be a slip of tongue, he is not trying to prove a point there, it is a simple conversation, what is the loss if someone wins a conversation. Would you rather make an enemy out of him and prove someone wrong in an argument for a dog’s leg or would you rather let it go because the person is more important than the dog’s leg.

How would you prove someone wrong in an argument?

If it is a considerable error and you want to prove someone wrong in an argument how would you do it? Would you say that he is wrong right in front of so many others, contest the point he made, cut him short in the talk and point out what is wrong, tell him that it is a foolish mistake? Well you could do all that but it is not going to help you. Not unless you are wanting to make a mortal enemy of that person.

You could always say – I am sure you meant this but I heard it as this, I’m just wanting to clarify; or you can say, I might be wrong, but I think there is an alternative thought on this line and then ___________ ; I very much agree to the points you said, point out a couple of specifics from the talk and then bring the odd one out – you can always say – I think this is my view on it.

There are a hundred ways you can soften the blow, but you have to choose to soften.

Make the mistake small

People are conscious, they realize the mistakes they have done and if they do not, you would have made them realize it. But in the quest to prove someone wrong in an argument we end up shoving the mistake down their throat. He would hate being wrong as much as you would. People know the importance of their mistakes, the moment you make it appear larger than it is, you are punishing him for a small mistake and he wouldn’t dare to do one more again.

Paraphrasing it, he would never take an initiative again cos you are giving out a strong negative message. If you are the leader, take the blame on you and move on, let your teammate make the mistake, tell him how that has impacted you and tell him it is no big deal and you will deal with it. That way you are restoring faith and he wouldn’t like to let you down.

Where would you say that he is wrong?

His audience means the most to him, if you point out that he is wrong in front of people who matter to him, you are not helping yourself in any way. Any negative conversation has to be in private where you get ample space and time to organize your thoughts. Try and play the words in your mind and see what effect it has. Like I said, we are not here to win an argument and lose the person, we want the person over the argument.

Add Humour to prove someone wrong in an argument

Humor is an extraordinarily powerful tool in communication, the role of which is underplayed most times. And best humor is always the one which is directed against you and not the other person. You can always share an experience about a similar situation and how you came out of it, personalize the experience, Don’t give the other person “A lecture” on how he should be right. People are smart, they recognise an experiential story, you need not make it obvious to his face and hurt him about it. And when you are at it, please be mindful of these 13 things when you are trying to be funny

Offer him a safe exit:

Something which most people tend to neglect is the other person’s emotions. Everyone needs a safe exit. It is very easy to be consumed in the victory of our individual thought that we might miss out on the larger picture – the opponent’s emotion and self respect. If you are cornered in a losing argument, you’d certainly need a place where you can retire with your head held up won’t you?

Why not offer the same to your opponent? People will respect that, every person’s self image is of utmost importance to him. There is no way you are going to win by hurting that. Your best chance is to save that honor and offer a way to maintain it. It is not about being the bigger person, it is about being the nicer one.

 Above all, remember that the person is more important than the mistake, you may win the argument but that is not why you started reading this article in the first place.

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26 thoughts on “7 Steps To Prove Someone Wrong In An Argument Without Hurting Them

    1. Thank you Preethi. True isn’t it, I mean when we do those mistakes, we feel so ashamed and are looking at a safe way to get out of it. Most people don’t seem to identify that and keep continuing the autopsy even after the death and the cause has been identified! I have so many times felt that I wish I were given an option like that.

  1. I normally avoid words like ‘wrong’, ‘mistake’, etc.. So, if my junior has made a mistake, I would say something like, “Maybe a better way to do this would be …. What do you think?” and give him/her a chance to agree. This works most of the time, but some people can be pig-headed!

    1. He he 😀 .. I completely agree to that. But I guess that’s one of the most beautiful challenges of working with people, trying to identify what motivates them the most. And if nothing works, there is always the carrot and the stick approach 😀 :D..

      But I gotta give it to you, it is pretty cool that you consciously avoid a few words. That certainly goes a long way 🙂

  2. Just the kind of article I really need. For too long I often used to prove my point but ended up upsetting others. Now that I have gone through this writing I hope I’ll muster the skill needed to take part in a constructive debate 🙂

    1. Thank you Singhphun, even I used to do the same until I came to realise how destructive it was and was causing me more trouble than any good. A few of these steps which I consciously tried to implement and work on them. They really go a long way in making constructive conversations and arguments and at the end of it, people matter a lot more 🙂

  3. I will let him / her go even if the dog’s leg (or the full dog for that matter) is more important to me!
    But NOT Always.
    And in those rarest of occasions, I’ll prefer to do things MY WAY without arguing ..
    He He Vinay , Arguing seems such a waste of time and energy buddy! Better to watch SRK dimpling in HappyNewYear :/
    On a serious note, I liked all your point but appreciated the last two ones the most. Humor takes away the edge out of any rough situation .. and Offering them a safe exit saves not only their self-respect, but our humility too.
    A nice one ..again 🙂

    1. Thank you Arun, that really means a lot to me. How are you doing mate? Hope things are going great. I miss meeting you guys in Mysore. It will be nice to do a skype call sometime. I am on holidays till about the 10th of Jan 🙂

  4. Cutting someone else’s point or overpowering yours over theirs often acts as a demeaning manner cropping in acute grievances. You have well-laid this post with great tips Vinay. Sure to respect the other’s integrity and proving your take simultaneously! 🙂

    1. True Maitreni. All those things will give an immediate satisfaction of being right or establishing our ‘superiority’ but what we lose is a bigger chunk in the form of the person or his goodwill. In the long run, that affects more than the smaller victories. I think it is all about looking it a little beyond what we see .

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