How to get anyone to argue on your side

benchPay-off: you don’t need to argue if you do this
Investment: < 3 mins (1 min if you’d learned to speed read)

You’ve surely heard that one of the best ways to convince someone of something is to make them think it was their idea. But why not go a step further and get them to argue your case for you, whilst you pour yourself a cocktail, sit back and light a cigar?

Want to give it a spin with me?

A quick game

OK, will you play this game with me? The game will take 60 seconds.

On a scale of 1-10, where 10 is high, how important do you think it is to improve your skills of persuasion and influence?

Now, hold the number in your mind, and answer this:

Why that number? Why not lower than that?

Don’t read on until you’ve come up with at least three reasons why you didn’t rank that lower. If you don’t do this, you won’t experience the useful lesson from the game.

Get clear on those reasons.

Come on, stop reading and start thinking…

OK, assuming you have done this, that’s the end of our game.

Thank you for helping me argue my point 🙂

Right, thanks for playing if you did. I hope this simple technique got you thinking. People often push back and resist what others are saying (the harder you push the harder the system pushes back) This technique gets them pulling with you, rather than pushing against you.

So, here’s the formula:

1.Ask yourself, “what case do I want them to argue?”

Answer in the format of, “I think they should consider that [subject] is [desired state]”


I think they should consider that [daily exercise] is [really important]

I think they should consider that [they] are [ok at public speaking]

2.Determine the scale you’re going to propose to them using this format:

On a scale of 1-10, how [desired state] do you think [subject] is?


On a scale of 1-10, how important do you think daily exercise is?

On a scale of 1-10, how good at public speaking do you think you are?

3.Listen to their answer, and ask them, “why that number? Why didn’t you answer lower than that?”

4.Listen to them argue the case the right way round 🙂

Now obviously, you don’t deliver this mechanically. You build rapport, get some chit chat going, and pose the question totally casually as if you were just pondering the situation.

It may sound like this:

Your subject isn’t exercising enough and you think it’s behind some of their broader problems.

Following some chit chat, you curiously ask:

You: Have you considered more regular exercise? I mean, on a scale of 1-10, how important do you think regular exercise is?

Them: Err, maybe 7?

You: Why didn’t you answer lower than 7?

(at this point you can pour your cocktail, light your cigar, and sit back)

Them: Well, because…obviously, it’s important for losing weight and apparently makes people feel good, and…I’ve heard it helps strengthen your immune system and makes you feel more mentally alert too….and….feel better about yourself..

Nearly every time I’ve used this simple technique it’s had a very positive outcome. It’s shifted the other persons mindset to a positive problem solving one. It’s opened up possibility. It’s made them feel better about their challenge. And put them in a more resourceful and even empowered state of mind. They’re not looking at the obstacles any more, but a desired future state that makes sense TO THEM, because it came from them.

Obviously you can use this in sales conversations too. (Don’t start break-dancing in celebration though whilst they’re thinking. I’m told that’s off-putting.)

I hope you’re sold on this idea.

If not, on a scale of 1-10, how effective do you think the technique is?

Why didn’t you rank that lower?

Queue music…

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