Now, we generally regard the destroyer to be the winner of such exchanges.
However, there is another perspective that I want to investigate in this video.
And we’ll use Jordan Peterson’s recent exchanges with Sam Harris as an example.
Now here’s the issue, Jordan: “you’re going to have difficult arguments about how to proceed, and it’s very commonly the case that your remarks will be straw-manned, your words will be taken out of context, and both parties will want to win rather than attempt to solve the problem.”
Winning an argument, or even annihilating the opposing party, is not the same as resolving the issue.
Worse, if a dispute is not resolved with tact, it can be detrimental to the relationship.
Thus, in this video, we’ll examine five tips from Dr. Peterson discusses how to win disputes without destroying either party.
To be clear, there are moments when Jordan will be more aggressive or defensive, and if you’re interested, I may produce another video on those types of point scoring discussions.
However, for the time being, the first tip you should know is that you should begin the majority of conflicts by defining not where you disagree, but where you agree.
Which is where Jordan began his conversation with Sam Harris in Vancouver, Jordan: “I thought what I may do is just lay out some points where I believe Sam and I agree, and there are a number of points where we agree.”
And in the following clip, you’ll see how highlighting areas of agreement might help someone become more receptive to alternative ideas; for context, the student who asks the question is pointing out what he sees to be a flaw in Jordan Peterson’s argument against hate speech laws.
Read Also: How to Win Any Arguement
Take note of Jordon’s response and how the student begins to nod.
Student: “Feel as if they are unable to engage in retaliatory, you know, clarifyificatory discourse against them because they fear the potential repercussions, even if they do not result in violence; they fear them so much that they may act irrationally or rationally,” Jordan: “Oh, it happens all the time!”
Indeed, that is a common occurrence around the world…”
Peterson spends the next two minutes essentially concurring with and expanding on the student’s thesis.
Now the student nods throughout much of this, as Peterson elaborates on the point expressed by the student.
Jordan feels more heard and understood as he elaborates on the student’s perspective.
What’s remarkable is that when Jordan then presents a perspective that the student hasn’t considered previously, the nodding continues: “And thus, the repercussions of the legislation become incalculably worse as a problem than the one for which they were designed.”
To believe differently is to think in this Utopian fashion”.
If Jordan had simply leaped into what this student had missed, that nodding would very certainly not have occurred, and more crucially, the student would not have been receptive to a novel thought.
Read Also: How to Win a Debate easily
However, by outlining areas of agreement and expanding on the point made by the person you’re conversing with, you actually increase the possibility that they’ll be receptive to alternative ideas.
When you’re attempting to establish your points of agreement or disagreement, you never know for definite whether you understand what the other person is saying.
Thus, it is preferable to speak in these terms.
“All right, then, it appears as though we agree that the central ingredient of tribal bonding, which has its origins in the Chimpanzee…”
“Well, you’re basically—as best as I can understand, you’ve claimed that there would be a sociocultural accord…”
To be perfectly clear, you cannot simply state “as you are stating” and then fill in the straw man argument, as we showed in our last video on Jordan Peterson.
You must articulate the other person’s position in a way that they will understand.
When done in good faith, there is a significant difference between the expression “It appears like” and simply saying “What you’re doing.”
“It seems like” invites correction and it comes from a desire to engage in a dialogue, rather than telling the other person what logical leaps they’re making.
I also addressed the term it seems like in our last video that indicates that you’re dealing with an arrogant or insecure person, so if you want to learn more about it, click here to see that video.
However, you will ultimately get to controversial points of disagreement in your discourse; this is unavoidable.
Additionally, there are a variety of ways to communicate your position without making the other person feel threatened.
You may begin, for example, by stating your good intentions as follows, Jordan: “What’s the—and no, I’m not trying to trap you here.”
“We’re on the same page there now, but what I saw when you wrote the moral landscape, and this is not a trap, is that you tell a tale about…”
It goes against instinct, but you must frequently return to the sensation of not wanting to trap the other person.
When you express this coherently, you avoid the primary issue in most arguments, which is that we are so easily connected with our positions; after all, they are OUR positions.
As a result, when those perspectives are attacked and deconstructed, we as individuals feel attacked and deconstructed.
This may sound dramatic, but getting ensnared in an argument can have the same effect as being ensnared by a predator.
This takes us to step four: you must disentangle your ego and the ego of the other person from the positions you had before to entering the discussion.
This is difficult!
It entails acknowledging that your viewpoints are not truly your own.
You acquired them someplace, and you can replace them without sacrificing an integral part of yourself.
Non-identification with your opinions is a massive subject that exceeds the scope of this video, since it will effect everything from argument to your overall level of life pleasure, among other things.
However, for the purposes of this video, emphasize that you are not targeting the individual.
You’re simply disagreeing with a certain point of view, and here’s a fantastic phrase to help you do it, Jordan: “The issue I have with your argument, and this is not to say that you’re wrong, is that I see what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, which, as far as I can tell, is admirable.”
However, as far as I am aware, it does not resolve some issues and leaves others unresolved or unaddressed that do not have to be unresolved or ignored”.
This is particularly effective since people are fundamentally afraid of being incorrect; the existential fear of being wrong for the world is one of the most profound and pervasive human fears.
That is why we cling to our possessions, identities, and debates.
If they are correct, we believe we must be correct as well.
Thus, stating “I have an issue with the argument” and, by the way, using the term “the argument” rather than “your argument” is prudent, since it indicates that you do not believe the individual is bound by the argument.
By doing so, you demonstrate that the individual is not wrong, you avoid arousing their ego and its defense mechanisms, and you hopefully maintain a calm and productive environment.
This is a pattern of individual validation, and the same pattern will play out in response to specific objections they may raise against your points, such as this, Sam: “Then there must be a deeper level of reality that explains why they both work in ways that cannot be reduced to Christianity or Hinduism being true.”
Jordan: “Yeah, that’s—look, Sam, that’s a perfectly reasonable objection.”
And you’ll help the other person feel understood and receptive to change by mentioning your own openness to reconsider your own beliefs, as Jordan did: “One of the things I’ve been re-considering since last night’s conversation is the nature of our disagreement concerning the relationship between…”
However, rather than elaborating on these arguments, let me to establish one greater contrast that connects them all.
To win any argument, the greatest strategy is to avoid identifying with “your perspective.”
Rather than that, recognize that you’ve improved when your firmly held perspectives are tested to the breaking point, and even when the person with whom you’re conversing isn’t so pleasant about it, Jordan:
“And so one of the things you have to keep in mind when you’re talking things with people, even if they’re out to beat you, is that there is a glimmer of hope that you could walk away with more information than you entered with, and that’s worth—that might be worth paying a high price for.”
Internalizing the attitude is a significant task; meditation aids in this process; nonetheless, you are likely to revert to protecting your ego attachments; this is a natural aspect of being human.
However, if you can manage to approach the topic with a genuine curiosity, the relationship will improve, you’ll be more persuasive if you make true points, and you could even learn something.
Therefore, if you take only one thing away from this video before engaging in your next argument, discussion, or debate, or whichever you like to refer to it,
I’d advise you to consider the following: “Do I want to be RIGHT?”
Or am I willing to go to any length to GET IT RIGHT?”
While you may not be able to destroy someone with that approach, you will win the argument because you will walk away with a more complete understanding of the reality.
Now, I believe that a significant reason Jordan is able to maintain such composure throughout these meetings is that during his time as a clinician, he learned to listen to and assist patients who frequently feel attacked.
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