Presentation Is Everything

Sweetness, I was only joking when I said I’d like to smash every tooth in your head…
Sweetness, I was only joking when I said by rights you should be bludgeoned in your bed…
Bigmouth strikes again and I’ve got no right to take my place in the human race.
  –The Smiths, Bigmouth Strikes Again

I don’t argue with someone unless I’m completely certain I’m right. If I have even the slightest inkling that I might be mistaken in my assertions, I’ll avoid the debate altogether until I have an opportunity to confirm the validity of my position. This doesn’t mean I’m always right (for there are certainly times when I am sure I’m right when in fact I am not), but it lessens the number of arguments I lose.

Well, in theory, anyway. The reality is not so clear-cut. See, my problems are an extremely animated nature and an obtrusively resounding voice which, when combined, end up completely destroying the legitimacy of my argument. I can be 100% correct and I will still end up on the losing end of a dustup because of my lousy presentation.

I am, by nature, a loud and hyperactive person. I have been all my life. I’m that guy who is constantly bouncing a leg; can’t sit still. This translates into a very passionate and spirited debating style (though most tend to see it more as hostile and bellicose).

My voice is a moderate baritone that really carries. In an office environment, I have to continually concentrate on keeping my voice low and in most cacophonous environments – crowded parties, public events, that sort of thing – I can easily rise above the din and make myself heard. I dominate any shouting match, no contest. I am vocal resonance personified.

I’m also a sardonic smart-ass a lot of the time, especially if I find my opponent’s argument to be obtuse or inane. This, too, tends to aid in my defeat, regardless of whether the derision was justified.

The fact is, if you want to win an argument, you have to be congenial. You have to be calm. You have to be soft-spoken and refined. These things are all more important than being right.

In fact, I will go so far as to say that you can be completely wrong in your contentions and still win the argument if your opponent is emphatic and intense and you follow these three simple rules:

1.    Speak in a calm, low-toned voice.
2.    Limit your body movement as much as possible.
3.    Abstain from sarcasm, derisive irony, and all forms of argumentum ad hominem.

Yup. Do these things and, well, you’ll kick my ass in an argument every damn time.

Even though you know I’m totally right.

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About kirkstarr

I draw pictures for a living.
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17 Responses to Presentation Is Everything

  1. jaypo says:

    Half way through this I couldn't help laughing, imagining you–big boomy voice, arms waving–at a party trying to not attract attention! All you need is baggy pants flapping to be your own random motion machine. LOL!As for arguing, there's very little I ever feel like arguing about! Most other people care more about being right than I ever do. "Sure, you want to be right?! OK! You're right." The funny thing is, when I just let them be "right" because I don't care who is or who isn't, some people get more upset and intent on convincing me. Paradoxichology.

  2. Dancing Bear says:

    I prefer your personal style because it works so well for me. I can win any argument simply by not conceding that I lost. I can tire the oponent into submission by being monotonous and repeating the same glowering facts over, and over and over….and over. I can take the side of an argument that is diametrically opposed to my own beliefs and still win. I must at all costs. Once defeat is certain I will simply say I made everything up, won, and was totally wrong. In doing this I allow them to positively reinforce what I believed in anyhow. I just have a new arsenal for when "assholes attack".

  3. J says:

    I usually pepper my arguements with humor. Sometimes it blows up in my face, but when I feel threatened, I toss out humor.
    Being loud isn't always a bad thing either. 😀 So what type of debates get you truly fired up?

  4. Marque says:

    There is really no method to my madness. No need to be loud or quiet. It's simple….I am ALWAYS right. Period.

  5. Fattypants says:

    You know, honestly it never occurred to me that it is all that important to win arguments. If I'm wrong, I don't really have a problem with conceding to another person. If I'm right, I know I'm right, and I generally don't really care whether others agree.

  6. IG says:

    I'm with Fattypants. Winning arguments with people who argue for entertainment or ego's sake is at the very bottom of my priority list. Sometimes the people who disagree with me are actually interested in open dialogue–and discovering other points of view–but that is usually not the case. And I have other things to do. That said, Kirk–when I get going, I can be pretty loud and flappy-armed too. 🙂

  7. I'm with Fattypants and IslandGirl it's not worth getting in the argument in the first place in most cases. I know I am right and the other person is wrong I don't need to prove it to the it's enough that I know. I wasn't always like this let's say I'm trying to mellow as the years streak by. However if the other person pushes me I will argue and I am also the loud person in the crowd, you would have no problem hearing me across a football field, and that's when I'm not riled up. Oh and you can win any argument even if your loud just never concede and they will eventually give in just to shut you up. ^-~

  8. Kirk says:

    It is true that arguing is most of the time pointless, I'll agree, but what about the times when the argument is actually important – say, an argument with your partner over how a family matter is settled or a debate that will directly impact a significant social program? You may find yourself less willing to concede as the stakes go up.

  9. IG says:

    ahh, now you're getting to it. kirk, in a high-stakes argument all bets are off. i will raise my voice and pound my head on things and cry with frustration if I feel my point isn't being heard. and i will keep at it — for hours or days if need be– until, exhausted and starving, all parties feel a satisfactory resolution has been reached.

  10. Kirk says:

    "So what type of debates get you truly fired up?"How long have you got? ;)I used to get into heavy political debates (I'm rather liberal, in case you hadn't guessed) but I've stopped because it was neither good for my blood pressure nor my faith in humanity. Things that really get me going and out for blood are justified hate, blatant hypocrisy, and uncalled for abuse. Spew hatred, act sanctimonious, or be insulting and disparaging and, well, it'll be difficult for me not to let you have it. Medieval style.

  11. Kirk says:

    We've much in common, you and me, IslandGirl. Much indeed.

  12. IG says:

    kirk, you sweetie. that's is the nicest thing anyone has said to me all week. but i do see what you mean. 🙂

  13. Kirk says:

    "…that's is the nicest thing anyone has said to me all week. but i do see what you mean."And mean it, I do! 🙂

  14. jaypo says:

    There absolutely are things worth putting yourself on a limb
    for–hypocrisy, deviousness, abuse, etc. "Arguing," however, is very
    different than negotiation, and it's also not the same as stating exactly
    what you mean with conviction, commitment, and unwavering belief in
    your own principles. When these things become tainted by superiority
    and egotism, the desire to "win" or crush the opponent, principles take
    a back seat, no matter how big or small the topic. [sigh] We're a long way from a perfect world, aren't we…

  15. Debates, or arguments, are often necessary. If someone is stating a position that I find racist, bigoted, sexist, or simply uncaring I feel an obligation to get them to change their viewpoint. After all, one less racist, sexist, uncaring bigot on the planet will only make it a better place. As to the method of delivery, it depends on whether you want to simply win an argument and prove them wrong or whether you genuinely want to persuade the other person that they should rethink their position.The best people I have ever met for the latter are my boyfriend and a lecturer I had at TAFE. Rather than insisting their view is right, they ask the other person why they have the opinion they do. When they figure that out they then begin to question the reasoning – gently and quietly making the person in question see that there is a better way to look at it. By turning it into a discussion rather than a personalised pissing match of 'I am right and YOU are wrong', they managed to get the most stubborn person to admit that there was another way to look at things.I've tried to learn by their example, but unfortunately I'm like a rottweiler who swallowed a bee during any argument. It's too hard for me to remain calm when it's so obvious that this argument is the Most Important Debate That Will Ever Occur on This Planet. Especially when I'm drunk.

  16. Rev Stan says:

    I was just wondering, when does a debate become an argument? And what constitutes one and not the other?

  17. BadPatty says:

    Kirk, are you married? I am, and there are plenty of times in which I know that I'm right. . . but in arguing with my wife I always lose. It's the nature of the beast, I know.

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