The Study Dude – Argue but Never Say Sorry?

Study Tips from a Semi-Anonymous Friend

There is nothing more that The Study Dude wants for you than to make an entire room erupt in friendly laughter at some quick-witted, light-hearted, non-hurtful remark you make.

Well, in these articles, as The Study Dude, I’ll try to give you the study tips you need to help make your learning easier. I’ll also give you straight and honest opinions and personal anecdotes?even the embarrassing ones that you wouldn’t ever dare read about from any other study tip guru.

This week’s article examines the book Thank you for Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion by Jay Heinrich. While some of the strategies are questionable, like the advice to never apologize, others may help you advance a positive agenda.

Probing and Acting on What People Value Most
I often ask people what they value most so that I can share in the delight of their passions. I love to know what activities, what hobbies, what goals truly excite others, and I relish in the details they share of their passions. I’m also one of those people who devour books on personality types, as nothing delights me more than finding a trait that perfectly describes my loved one or that perfectly describes someone I know in passing.

In my prior career, I was often perplexed at the notion of purpose. My paycheck amounted to more money than I could ever had hoped for, but my role seemed purposeless. I would go through the day, dismayed by how little I seemed to contribute to the greater good. Now that my contract with that position ended, even with a downsized income, I feel more purpose in my life than ever before. Every day infuses me with a greater sense of overall meaning. I can hardly wait for each day to arrive, longing to stay up late at night, working away at my passions in order to seize the moment.

But Heinrich believes in the value of figuring out what motivates other people so we can incorporate it into persuasion techniques. What comes next outlays guidelines for determining what people value most so you can turn it into what is coined a “halo”:

– Try to determine what your audience’s values are by probing them on what they feel matters the most. Outright ask the person what one thing most characterizes them. The response will highlight that person’s biggest value. The first thing the person reveals likely corresponds to that person’s innermost value.
– Once you know what your audience values most, link that attachment identity to a “halo”, or in other words, a symbol.
– Taking up your audience’s values as opposed to trying to alter them is the best strategy in getting them to see things your way.
– If you want to lead a group, try to embody their values.
– People will go to no end to reinforce their most dearly held sense of identity and values.
– When scolding someone, articulate that the bad behaviour is not typical of him or her, and then follow-up by stating the positive behaviour you want the person to model as if it is that person’s natural state of being.
– When you face an issue, reduce that issue to two or three words that target the person’s value system and create a symbol out of it. For instance, if you want to target how to make scars seem attractive so that military people will get a necessary procedure done, then associate scars with one’s sense of loyalty to family and country. Show advertisements with the person saying, “My scar is for my country” (p. 245).

Never Apologize
When I do something wrong, I’m often the first to apologize, and then apologize a second, third, fourth, and so forth time. Oftentimes, the apologies seem to extend the reproach and discipline, rather than putting an end to them. Yet, if one breaches some rule or expectation, how does one apologize effectively, end the disciplinary session, and move on to higher ground?

When I first encountered Heinrich’s advice to never apologize, I was taken aback. What would the world amount to if no-one took ownership of a wrong? Yet, Heinrich conceives of owning a wrong as something perhaps prouder than lowering one’s head and slouching one’s body in apology. He posits an entirely different system for apologizing than merely saying “I’m sorry.” While on a personal level, I think apologies are necessary, I wonder whether in a business context avoiding apologies might lead to the best outcomes.

Maybe you can decide for yourself: should you apologize or shouldn’t you, and under what circumstances? The following illustrates Heinrich’s rules for never apologizing:

– When you perform a negative action, determine the gamut of your goals, confess as soon as possible, and focus on choices, or in other words, the future tense. Also, demonstrate your ethos with your practical wisdom and skills, your caring, and your adherence to the cause.
– No apology is necessary. Apologies often make a person shrink in size and hobble over. Apologies associate with blame.
– Instead, refer to yourself as possessing higher standards than what you demonstrated. Talk in the future tense, about how you will put your high standards to use to produce better results going forward. It is assumable that everyone wants to hear your future amendment strategy more so than your meek regrets.

Ways to Humour Others
Humour contains many benefits, from relieving stress to forging bonds with others. I once utilized sarcasm, given my family proclivity toward it, but later completely abandoned sarcasm in favour of a more spiritual, light-hearted humour. I now cringe at any semblance of sarcasm, as I acknowledge that sarcasm often produces social distance and hurt feelings. My partner also delights me endlessly with a quick, playful, innocent wit, so I often receive and appreciate a light-hearted, nonthreatening humour?and nevermore any cutting sarcasm.

Heinrich’s book reveals a variety of types of humour, and lists humour strategies for people, such as himself, who aren’t the bantering or sarcastic sorts:

– There exists various types of humour from mild wit to gut splitting facetious humor, to back-and-forth comebacks in banter, to wordplay humour. If you don’t possess much of a quick wit, wordplay poses as an excellent strategy.
– Use of puns makes for great joke material. Figures of speech also make excellent fodder for humour and wit.
– Take a cliché and twist it. Alter the ending to give an unexpected change to the otherwise bane response. You can also switch the words around.
– Another strategy is to take a cliché and treat it literally. If someone says, for example, “It’s not over until the fat woman sings,” say, “Then Aunt Mertyl’s showers mark the end of time.”
– Other figures of speech can evoke laughter as well, so test out your wordplay knowhow to elicit the best response.

So, there’s nothing to fear. The Study Dude is determined to make right for you all the wrongs I made in grad school?one A+ at a time.

References
Heinrich, Jay. (2013). Thank You for Arguing. What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion New York, NY: Three Rivers Press.

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