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.