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After Trump called Marco Rubio a “low life,” “nasty guy” and “choke artist,” Rubio sunk lower. Citing Trump, he said, “You know what they say about men with small hands.” And Trump called Cruz “a little baby: soft, weak, little baby.”

argumen cultreUnfortunately negative and bad name-calling and labels are more contagiously shared than positive ones, as you have undoubtedly noticed in this immersive, warped and ongoing reality show called the presidential campaign. The Argument Culture is on the rise again.

Consider seeing the nasty escalation of political attacks – and heated reactions by the pundits -and many of us — as a wake-up call lesson. Make it a call for us to practice, instead, candid yet civil discussions with those with whom we disagree, in our work and life – and thus able discover more sides of a situation and thus become more sought-after.Rulesbook for arguments

Here are some nuggets I’ve condensed and paraphrased from Anthony Weston’s classic, pithy Rulebook for Arguments:

  1. “If you can’t imagine how anyone could hold the view you are attacking, you just don’t understand it yet.” In seeking possible explanations, solutions or causes, Weston suggests that we keep looking for more options, rather than immediately narrowing them. That way, we can state our case more fairly, and possibly head off objections more effectively.
  1. Find out what other sides consider the strongest arguments for their position.   Also, find the best evidence and most vivid examples they use or could use to support their positions.
  1. Preemptively raise possible counter-arguments. Develop them in sufficient detail that your readers will fully appreciate the position you are disarming.
  1. Avoid using two “great fallacies”:
  • Generalizing from incomplete information.
  • Overlooking alternative explanations
  1. In writing your view:
  • Use specific, concrete language.leaking bucket
  • Develop one idea per paragraph. Don’t “fence more land than you can plow. One argument, well-developed is better than three only sketched.” Attempting otherwise is akin to offering “ten very leaky buckets to one well-sealed one.”
  • Get to the point quickly. Avoid redundancy and unnecessary details. (See, also Dan and Chip Heath’s warning, in Made to Stick regarding “semantic stretch.” That’s when words can be overused to the point where their impact is diluted. I.e., if people start using the word “genocide” to mean “saying bad things about the Confederate flag,” and if the word is overused enough times and in enough situations, the term starts to lose the full measure of emotional horror that it should rightfully possess.”maees
  • State your conclusion clearly, directly and briefly.
  1. Emotionally loaded or prejudicial language “preaches only to the converted.”
  • Careful presentation of the facts zcan itself convertz’.
  • “It is not a mistake to have strong views. The mistake is to have nothing else.”
  1. Stay open to changing your mind or improving your approach by incorporating others’ ideas, giving them fulsome credit for their insights.  (Lincoln would be proud of you.)

To better understand yourself in relationship to others – and for more insights on how to move from me to we to thus adopt a mutuality mindset and thus stay relevant and sought—after read Mindwise, Mutuality Matters, The Power of Fifty Bits, Nudge, Sway, On Being Certain, and The Starfish and the SpiderSway-the-Irresistible-pull-of-irrational-behavior-195x300nudgewnstarfishmiond

moving from me to we


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