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How to Argue and Win Every Time

de Gerry Spence

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638526,893 (3.27)1
How to Argue and Win Every Time is a book that teaches you how to argue in everyday life - at home, in the bedroom, with the boss, with teachers, and with your kids. But it is also a book with sweeping implications for American society, for at its heart, it proposes a new philosophy - that winning is not what you think it is and that your enemy's loss may be your loss as well. Gerry Spence, the noted trial lawyer, says we were born to make the winning argument as we were born to walk. But argument is an art as well as a technique to be learned. The winning argument starts with a mindset, one that gives you permission to argue freely when argument has been the forbidden fruit of your childhood. Spence teaches you how to get beyond the fear and to use this fear as your ally. He shows you that when your argument emerges from your own authority, the argument will not only be the winning argument, it will be unique among all arguments.… (mais)
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Exibindo 5 de 5
This book is an enjoyable read written by a lawyer who, according to Wikipedia, has never lost a criminal case as either a prosecutor or defender, and hasn't lost a civil case in 46 years. This was written in 1996, a couple years after I first heard of Spence when he skillfully defended Randy Weaver and exposed major problems in the federal government's actions in the Ruby Ridge case. Spence has defended Imelda Marcos and a host of others.

The negative reviews of this book seem to be by people who wanted a quick silver bullet, which is not what Spence provides. "Winning" has to be defined, as does "argument." Spence states that not every argument can be one, there is no need for a suicide charge. A "tactical retreat" is often a smart maneuver in winning a larger war.

The first part of the book reminded me of Plato, it reads like Socrates' dialectic. Spence (an ardent environmentalist) has an imaginary dialogue with a lumberjack, showing that if you can empower someone ("would you serve on a committee looking at this issue?") in their compromise, you win the argument. Argument is necessary. It's an important part of identity and personal growth. "Every boss should have a sign on his desk saying 'Argue with me,'" he writes. Spence proposes a new paradigm of argument: Argument is a means by which we bring about change, either in ourselves or others. It is a way to achieve an outcome you desire. What do you want to change?

"You are your own authority," and submitting to an external authority will stunt your growth. Both parties to an argument retain their authority, which makes "winning" somewhat problematic to define. You are simply changing someone without changing their authority, or accepting someone else's argument without relinquishing your own authority.

"All power, yours and theirs, is yours." Our power is creativity, joy, pain, experiences, belonging only to us. "Their power is my perception of their power." Others possess only what we give them. These philosophical/psychological points underpin his argument in the book. (These thoughts on not submitting to outside authorities will be problematic to those who look at an outside source-- like the Bible-- as their authority. Spence does not address absolutes in the book).

We should not live life skeptical of every little thing, but we should be skeptical. We want to trust the salesman, reporter, etc., but we need to listen and think. We also need to be aware of our own prejudices and cognitive biases, as well as the person you're arguing with. "I've learned more from my dogs" than any of the so-called "experts from on high."

Spence writes that you should always tell the truth. An admission on your part scores points with a jury while an exposure of yourself by your opponent undermines your case. Better to confess than be exposed and accused of hiding something.

Tell a complete story. Use pictures in your words. Do not appeal to the jury's intellect, but rather their emotions. Use simple language that paints vivid pictures. (He gives a wonderful example of how he did this in front of an audience hostile to his environmentalism, converting some to his side.) Practice putting emotion into your words. Think of certain situations where you have felt emotion X. Now pick a word you associate with that emotional situation. Say that word with the emotion you associate with that experience. Practice it in your car, the shower, etc. Practice growling, practice showing joy. Spence comes across like an old-time stump speaker or carnival barker; it's obviously effective. Make the "magical argument." "I know this man is innocent and I want badly to show you how I know..."

It is better to convince one person in your audience who will make a lasting change than your entire audience and they forget what you said by morning. "Winning" is the conversion of that one rather than the majority.

Spence concludes the book with great thoughts in regards to communication in marriage. If you want love or respect, you need to communicate love and respect. If you want a major life change, explain to your wife the entire story, what happens first, next, and what the end picture is ("... and we live happily ever after"). Spence regrets misspent years as a parent who saw his children as pupils rather than as independent individuals. He learned from his wife that it's better to show your children respect. If you want your children to respect you, show respect to them by giving them freedom to learn and fail, give them responsibilities, show them trust and watch them earn more. If you want to win the argument with your 16 year old, you have to star when he's 6. If you love unconditionally, people are more willing to listen to your argument-- the argument can be won without words.

The same principles apply at work. If you want respect from your boss, you must always demonstrate that you respect her. If asking for a raise, frame it in terms of the benefit to the company. "With a raise (tuition reimbursement, etc.), I will be able to devote less time to my outside activities, boost company productivity, increase profit, etc." Spence writes that corporations are amoral entities "No one has ever seen a corporation." The corporation exists to make certain people profit, so you win arguments with a corporation only by framing it in the interest of the shareholders.

I found this to be a highly entertaining and personally helpful read. I recommend it. 4 stars out of 5. ( )
  justindtapp | Jun 3, 2015 |
[b:Win Your Case: How to Present, Persuade, and Prevail--Every Place, Every Time|911572|Win Your Case How to Present, Persuade, and Prevail--Every Place, Every Time|Gerry Spence|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1312048335s/911572.jpg|2548615] was a 5-star read. True, it started off with Gerry Spence's cod zen approach to life and a good bit of devotion to his ego, but eventually he got over himself and the book was a stunningly good read, helpful too. A book that made you think.

But with this one, I just couldn't pull my boots out of the mire of Gerry's self-admiration, so I left them there, pulled my feet out instead and made a run for it. (I ran straight into Machiavelli's The Prince. He was somewhat of a calculating bastard but he could write and his advice might have been evil but it is solid!)

5-stars to anyone who could actually finish reading this book.

( )
  Petra.Xs | Apr 2, 2013 |
So, the best way to argue and win every time is not to let yourself get to the point where you're arguing. My mother picked this book up for me when I was in 8th grade. We were doing a mock trial and I was the prosecuting attorney. It couldn't hurt to know how to argue and win every time, could it? The book is an excellent read and an easy one at that.

It ranges from deep philosophical arguments (and the rules) to spats with a spouse. It explains that you don't always "win" just because you got the last word and other very valid points when arguing. It really helps to bring things into perspective! ( )
1 vote Joles | May 15, 2008 |
Ready, set, argue! This guide on being a contentious weenie will work wonders for college students plunging into their causes and the beret and fingerless-glove campus crowd. The secret? You can only win every argument by dressing just like good old Gerry. ( )
  Josh_Hanagarne | Jan 8, 2008 |
The book doesn't really go into techniques or tips on how to conduct a successful argument.

Spence expertise is Law, not psychology. Of course lawyers are well grounded in psychology, they have to be, but what I am try to get across is that this book is intended for those who fear to argue not for those who are looking for techniques on bettering their arguments.

I should have payed more attention to Larry King's comment on the book, "How to Argue and Win Every Time is more then just a book about argument; it's the outline of how to live." ( )
  JoelM | Aug 10, 2006 |
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How to Argue and Win Every Time is a book that teaches you how to argue in everyday life - at home, in the bedroom, with the boss, with teachers, and with your kids. But it is also a book with sweeping implications for American society, for at its heart, it proposes a new philosophy - that winning is not what you think it is and that your enemy's loss may be your loss as well. Gerry Spence, the noted trial lawyer, says we were born to make the winning argument as we were born to walk. But argument is an art as well as a technique to be learned. The winning argument starts with a mindset, one that gives you permission to argue freely when argument has been the forbidden fruit of your childhood. Spence teaches you how to get beyond the fear and to use this fear as your ally. He shows you that when your argument emerges from your own authority, the argument will not only be the winning argument, it will be unique among all arguments.

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