Stop using facts in your arguments

Facts do not matter in arguments.

This is a big idea I first began wrestling with meaningfully last year — I shared in my newsletter back in June a mess of links I had been reading. Since then, my interest in the topic has only grown — the post-truth era certainly helped.

Here’s the idea: disagreements are emotional, not cerebral. When you are disagreeing with a friend or colleague or stranger, you’re not going to win someone over with truth, no matter how certain you think it is.

Approach a disagreement (and an opinion) like a partnership. You have to negotiate to find a narrative. Otherwise face the ‘backfire effect.’

That’s the lesson that some politicians exploit — creating a narrative that makes sense, whether or not it is true. Keep in mind that your emotional appeal might also happen to align with the truth (gosh, I hope so), as this isn’t a question of honest or not, it’s one of being effective or not. To convince, you need story, not facts.

Of course if you want to cut ties — fire someone,or drop a partner — you very much ought to be tracking those facts. Where you went wrong, what expectations were missed, etc.

But if you want a relationship to flourish, drop the facts and lead with the feelings. Be more “I feel this way,” not “I know this happened.”

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