Thank You for Arguing - 80/20 Summary
Updated: Feb 20
Skill Category: Persuasion
Mental Models: Action & Reaction: Newton's 3rd Law, Activation Energy, Alloying, Association, Choice Architecture, Curiosity Instinct, Desire, Ego, Emotions: Anger, Calm, Shame, Feeback-Loops, Inversion, Language Instinct, Liking/Disliking, Mise-en-Place, Momentum, Reciprocity, Second-Order Thinking, Sensitivity to Fairness, Status, Trust, Utility, Velocity
Mental Models from the book:
I have summarised 'Thank You for Arguing', distilling the book into 22 core principles:
1. Action & Reaction: Newton's 3rd Law
If someone makes a claim, for example, We spend too much money. Don't say they are wrong and provide counterexamples. Instead say: Because you deserve to be treated well and I want what's best for you.
2. Activation Energy/Emotions
To get people to act, use the emotions of:
Use layering: "Not only do get this but you also get...."
"You can persuade a man only insofar as you can talk his language by speech, gesture, tonality, order, image, attitude, idea, identifying your ways with his'.
5. Choice Architecture
Powerless people will lash out. Make them feel powerful. Give them the feeling of control.
Give the impression you are conceding a plan and not making a choice: "OK, so let's tweak/improve it".
When everyone has finished making their point and they are petering out and time is short: Summarise the best 5 opinions in a way that favors you.
Identity Strategy: Give the audience a choice of an action that defines them as a group.
Personal Sacrifice: Act as if the choice hurts you personally.
A logic Sandwich: "Since [commonplace], then we should [your choice].
6. Curiosity Instinct
When you encounter a verbally aggressive bully, feign a sympathetic curiosity: asking for definitions, more details and suggested sources.
Logic alone will not get people to act, they need desire and emotion.
Ask people to describe themselves. The first thing they mention will be their identity and who they consider themselves to be.
Emotional Refusal: Don't show the emotion the bully wants you to show. Look calm and you'll gain the audience's sympathy.
Use the passive voice to calm emotions. For example: Active: The dog bit the girl. Passive: The girl was bitten by the dog.
Don't pre-warn of the emotion you'll invoke, it will inoculate the listener. For example: This will make you laugh.
Most people think they use logic but in reality, their decisions are emotional and based on character.
9.1 Emotions: Anger
Keep things simple: The more confusing something is, the more annoyed people will become.
Anger is the most effective emotion to get people to act.
Belittlement Charge: Highlight the opposition belittling your group's values or desires. This will make your group angry.
Overcoming someone's anger: "Nothing makes me feel worse than failing to live up to my standards. So I'm going to do everything possible....
9.2 Emotions: Calm
You can calm someone's emotions by overemphasizing yours. This works well if you make a mistake and you overplay how stupid you have been.
9.3 Emotions: Shame
Over sympathizing: If you exaggerate sympathy you can make a person feel ashamed of their behavior.
Switch the tense to the future to avoid an argument going around in circles: "How is blaming me going to help with (.....). Let's decide on a plan and figure out how we can get along".
"You have heard my opponent brag about his past, but I want to talk about the future."
Reluctant Conclusion: Be reluctant in something you are keen to prove.
12. Language Instinct
Instead of using "um" get in the habit of starting a sentence with "and" when being questioned.
To persuade and move people from their current view, you need to make them feel at ease and comfortable.
The best order of a speech is: ethos, logos, pathos.
Ethos: Get the audience to like you through: shared values & identity + concern for their interest.
Logos: Use logic and facts to make your case. We should do.... because of...
Pathos: Use patriotism, anger and other emotions that result in action.
When making an argument start from the audience's commonplace (a view that your audience, as a group hold), not yours.
Anadiplosis: Build a thought/sentence, on top of another by using the last word/phrase in the sentence to start the next sentence. The momentum builds up to make your delivery unstoppable.
Gifts provide a good opportunity to bring ethos and solidify relationships.
17. Second-Order Thinking
Achieve a larger goal by admitting you are wrong on a smaller point: "You win. Now, how about we....."
Ask a friend to ask a question that would put you in a good position.
18. Sensitivity to Fairness
Antithesis: Make it sound like you are carefully weighing up both sides, evaluate the results and come to a conclusion.
Most lawsuits (and bad reviews) come from a sense of belittlement. People lash out when they are belittled to increase their status/ego or to shrink yours.
You can attack someone reputation without appearing to: "I'm not interested in making personal attacks, but I just want to....(the opposite of their bad character).
The single best advice for a beginner actor is to speak louder.
Multiple Yolking: Speak fast. Speak logically. With a succession of verbal punches. This will overwhelm your opponent and wow your audience.
Mental Model Mind Maps
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