How do you win an argument? Straightforward enough of a question, right? However, in a world where opinions are rarely altered by facts, how do you change a person’s opinion? Generally speaking, humans are emotional beings first and rational beings second. We are fully capable of making decisions completely based on reason. However, rationale ultimately plays second fiddle to emotion the more invested we become in something.
Take, for an example, proponents of the anti-vaccine movement. Despite incontrovertible evidence, they still believe that a little needle will give their child autism. The average human being has never rolled out of bed and thought, “I am purposefully going to be factually inaccurate today.” Each person has their own individual truths; or things that they genuinely believe to be true. In my experience, the moment you deny another person’s individual truth(s) is the moment your chance of changing that person’s opinion goes out the window.
Very few people respond constructively to being told their opinion is wrong. Indeed, the average person becomes defensive (in some cases even hostile) when what they believe to be true is challenged or denied. So how can you change a person’s mind? The answer lies in the fact that most people hold beliefs that have a least a hint of truth to them. A person is profoundly more likely to have their mind changed if you simply tell them that they are partially correct but not fully.
The key to changing a person’s opinion lies in the realization that it is impossible for anyone to be correct a hundred percent of the time. If you come into an argument holding your beliefs as gospel, your words will likely fall upon deaf ears. Just as it takes two to tango, it takes two open-minded people to have a meaningful debate. So go out there and argue with someone. Maybe you will get a new perspective.