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7 tips for arguing with someone who is "always right"

7 tips for arguing with someone who is "always right"

We’ve all been there: in the middle of an argument it suddenly dawns on you that, no matter what you say or do, your opponent is going to take the win. Not because they’ve used reason and logic to secure their triumph but because they have an insatiable need to Always. Be. Right.

It can be incredibly frustrating to enter into an argument with a person like this, but this character flaw can be managed. Remember, a person’s constant need to be right is most certainly masking their desperate fear of being wrong, and in the end, that fear is driving them to prevail by any means necessary. Try these tips to make these arguments and conflicts as painless as possible.

Stay strong but stay calm

It’s important to maintain your confidence if you truly feel you have a strong position. However, allowing emotion to enter the equation is almost always a recipe for disaster – because this tends to be seen as weakness by your challenger. Those that feel they are “always right” often pride themselves on being extremely rational. Be firm in your stance but never angry or desperate. A clear head and a steady tone will get you a lot further every time.

Qualify each point with evidence

Your rival will be intent on breaking down your argument, so make sure you can give clear evidence for each point you make. It can be pretty difficult to tear down a well-structured defence. This means you’ll need to be prepared for the pending confrontation. Ultimately, this isn’t always possible, of course, because arguments pop up at the most inopportune times, but do your best to be prepared in any case.

Present facts rather than opinions

Opinions are great, but they lack power during a conflict. While how you feel is certainly valid, it is not the best technique for winning an argument. Try facts that cannot be disputed. Alternatively, you can ask for facts or proof from your challenger. Statistics and case studies might be a little bit of overkill but try to present some seriously strong data to win your case. Be warned, though, that even with a mountain of legitimate data, your adversary may still decide they’ve come out on top.

Pick your battles

If you feel your battle has become hopeless you might want to move on. For example, if you’re arguing with your work buddy over who’s the best football player of all time, there’s likely never going to be a resolution. There are too many ways to stack the deck for your player of choice. Instead, you may want to skip that argument and concentrate on things that, although might seem a little more mundane, really do affect your day-to-day life.

Avoid sarcasm

Sarcasm is widely considered the lowest form of humour, and is often used to hurt or insult someone. It can be easy to resort to sarcasm during an argument but it doesn’t often strengthen your case. Sarcasm will only make you seem petty and contrary. Take the high road in any encounter you may have. You feel better for it, at the very least.

Consider alternatives

Just because your opponent always thinks they are right, does not mean they are always wrong. The truth is, they may occasionally be on the winning side. Consider their point of view for a moment. Could they truly be correct this time? Has their penchant for never backing down caused you to become so defensive in their presence that you can no longer see the other side? Take a minute to explore the dark side and you might be surprised at what you discover.

Live to fight another day

Walk away, because winning this one just might not be worth all the strife. Take your energy out of a losing battle and conserve it for another time. Don’t feel bad about conceding even if you feel you still have a horse in the race. After all, what does one really gain by arguing with someone who fails to see the legitimacy in the ideas and opinions of others? Take a step back and ask yourself if the outcome of the argument, wherever the victory falls, will really make any difference to you, at all.

Written by Shanell Mouland. This article first appeared in Reader’s Digest. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, here’s our best subscription offer.