Introduction: How to Win an Arguement With an Authority Figure

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You can use a couple strategies to win your basic argument with a normal person. It just takes a preset response or two and a quick wit.

Step 1: Pull the Rug Out From Under Them

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Before I start even talking about these strategies I would like to say a couple things.(thanks goes to kiteman for the reminder) This is an instructable on arguing. I do not advocate arguing just to be beligerent or arguing to get attention. This is intended to be used to add strength to ones argument when the other person actually is wrong by the standards of logic. In other words don't say "he's wrong because I don't like him."
The other thing he reminded me to mention is this. Consider the consequences of having the arguement. If you win will you have shown yourself to be better than the average minion or will it just piss them off. If there is no plus side to the argument, don't have it. Let them win for the time being.

I will use the capture of a hilltop castle as an analogy.
First one needs to just take the low ground and establish a base. There is little battle in this. This is done by taking the first argument they present you with and turning it on its ear.

Here is a real life example (This is almost directly quoting the teacher):
"Don't you think its disrespectful when every day I tell you to remove your hat and every day you come back wearing it?"
This is where you surprise them. Its quick simple and very likely to leave them scrambling for a new strategy.
Say "No." ("No" does not work for all occasions, adjust accordingly)
This removes the foundation of their argument by not allowing them to start gaining momentum. They were planning to build an argument off of what your expected response would have been. When it isn't what they are expecting they have to change how they are going to go about the task. Congrats,
you have just taken the lowground.

Step 2: The Next Portion

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Now you have removed the very foundations of their logical fortress and are ready to invade the castle through this newly formed breach in the wall. At this point one of three things will happen.
1) they will tell you to leave (this is a victory because it means that you have outdone them; they can't handle you and can't retreat so they use the last vestiges of their authority to send you away. This is a form of retreat.)
2)They will send you away as above but will do it in a way which they reassure themselves of their authority. "...Uh, Yes, but I am the teacher so you have to listen to me." or the truly hilarious "You are the teacher, , he has to listen to you." This is the exact same thing above but this shows that they are so insecure they are getting a power high off of yelling at those younger than them. They would never say anything of the sort to one of their own. You can push this if you like and poke a stick through this obvious chink in their armour. This can be fun but if the teacher is too sensitive it could lead to harsher punishment.
These two are where the castle has sent out a messenger to the king so the attacker has to hit the road.
3) They will continue to argue with you. This can be the most fun or the most troublesome. This is where the castle defenders rush to the breach to try and fend off the attack.

Step 3: Well... Now What?

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Now depending on which of the above actions they take you must decide what to do.
If they chose the first, it is time to leave and find something to do until the next class begins or just leave if its the end of the day.
If they chose the second option you must choose between responding the same way as you would to the first type or pressing the psychological advantage. See just above for the first option or the following for the latter. To press this you can actually start making fun of them. They have revealed an insecurity. Call them on it. "Wait a second, you were trying to get a simple power high off of me, weren't you? You are sick, man. You love yelling at me and all my fellow students because it makes you feel good? Feel big? Feel powerful? You love it because theres almost nothing we can do to respond to it without fear of getting in trouble. Screw that. Who says you should be aloud to feel big and powerful by, albeit not physically but rather emotionally, beating on those you perceived as lower than you?" You can maintain this line until they either go to option one or a stronger version of option one. It is powerful. Use with discretion.
If they choose option number three you have to use another strategy.

Step 4: What to Do When They Won't Die Right Away

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If they have chosen the third option you will have to use a few different strategies to defeat them. These all are effective in most arguments and how you use them will depend on the subject of that time.
1) Don't get mad. Don't show them any emotion as your face can tell which points they should press. The inability to read you will be frustrating and their emotions are your allies. "The enemy of my enemy is my friend" applies here because their emotions will distort their logic making it easier to find the weak points. This applies in all one vs one endeavors.
2) Be relentless. Don't pause in the middle of an argument to allow them to collect their thoughts. Continuously press home the ideas you are trying to put across. This opens more holes in their arguments and will allow you to maintain momentum. Allow them to make one and only one point. Then demolish that point as you drive yours into their skull. This is like a shielded charge. The attackers run forward with their shields up to deflect the wave of arrows but drop them and hack through the enemy forces using the momentum of the charge.
3) Use squirmy logic. This doesn't sound like a good thing because it sounds like you are weakening your position by constantly changing your mind. It isn't a bad thing. You can be halfway through an argument and it will completely confuse them if you suddenly switch from verbal idiomatic logic to literal exclusionary logic. This is like the old feint technique. Send a force to attack from the front as the small raiding force slips in over the back wall. The sudden change surprises confuses and sometimes overwhelms the opposition.
4) This is an optional safety measure. Use "lawyer language." This is where you naver use any absolutes. State that most things are one way. This keeps you covered as it leaves you protected if they provide a counterexample. You can always repeat what you said with greater emphasis on the special words and they can't touch you there.
Thats it. Use these strategies to win any argument. These specific strategies are pretty objective so you will have to decide how to use them depending on the subject that you are arguing about.

Apology: Yes, I know there should be better pictures but I don't happen to have many pictures of people looking angry and arguing; they aren't the most photogenic moments. It also is a factor that it is not quite yet possible to take a picture of a concept. Thus I cannot really take a picture of the strategies.

Last note: I am not responsible for how you use this information. For example: if you get fired, suspended, expelled, punished in some way, or get the **** smacked out of you by a more sensitive teacher it won't be my fault. Have fun.


techno guy (author)2012-08-30

I love this 'ible, it is so awesome, I've been looking for something like this.

nutsandbolts_64 (author)2011-08-21

Well technically this is correct, but to win an argument is to achieve your goal or objective by debate. If your goal / objective is to turn the tide, you don't turn the tide towards your own ship.

Like if you're arguing about the hat above. Should your long-term objective(s) be affected by a predicted outcome such as an argument, then just take it off, because it's bad for your long-term goals, and it makes to sense to argue about the hat.

Bindlestiff (author)2011-04-28

I don't know, this sounds more like "how to look like an unstable irrational spaz".

If I were watching this unfold, I would for sure have to side with whoever you're arguing with.

I don't think I can imagine a scenario in which this would be a good idea. I remember arguments just like this from when I was in middle school and high school. I always just felt embarassed for the student, and then there's the added nuisance of detention.

TigerNod (author)2009-08-10

"Wait a second, you were trying to get a simple power high off of me, weren't you? You are sick, man. You love yelling at me and all my fellow students because it makes you feel good? Feel big? Feel powerful? You love it because theres almost nothing we can do to respond to it without fear of getting in trouble. Screw that. Who says you should be aloud to feel big and powerful by, albeit not physically but rather emotionally, beating on those you perceived as lower than you?" Wow, I wouldn't dare say that at my teacher!

ilpug (author)TigerNod2011-02-14

its like a gun. you only use it when you want to kill something.

TigerNod (author)ilpug2011-02-18


Why would anyone even want to kill something? :-(

ilpug (author)TigerNod2011-02-18

you never know

JamesRPatrick (author)2008-05-26

Well, my story is: In tenth grade I had a real itch of a teacher who always seemed to take off too many points for minor errors for everyone, but especially me. For example, she would penalize a paper grade for a missing period in the Works Cited, but would let it pass for other students. Also, she would take off points and leave notes like,"I don't like this," and other opinionated factors while other students got off scott free. The only argument I had was unfair grading, but I couldn't use the other students as examples, because they are mostly friends and I wouldn't do that to them. It is important to note that this teacher was younger, tougher, and not afraid to fight back. She seemed to play favorites for half the year, and I wasn't her favorite. Then we found out she had been pregnant since school started, so I let it go on account of hormones. Then one day I came into class and she complimented me and gave me my paper with a passing grade. It was the weirdest thing. At lunch, I learned how the hate had actually been transferred from me to one of my friends. We were the quiet ones in the group, so it wasn't like we did anything to provoke the teacher. She left on maternity leave just before the fourth quarter and our grades skyrocketed.

finfan7 (author)JamesRPatrick2008-05-27

that's a wierd story, man.

ilpug (author)finfan72011-02-14

Accountability among teachers is one issue i have had many problems with as a student. Its pretty much impossible to deal with, because students have no authority. it is a real problem, and many people ignore it.

TigerNod (author)ilpug2011-02-18

Where I live, students don't have authority. But they do have influence. That fixes the problems a bit.

Kiteman (author)2007-08-12

Hmm, so getting thrown out of a lesson is a victory?

Sorry, but that completely undermines what little credibility this "instructable" had as an idea. All you've done is give instructions on how to be a stroppy, disrepectful, juvenile delinquent.

And, yes, I am a teacher. Off the top of my head I can think of several ex-pupils who tried taking similar approaches to the one you describe. Please note two significant letters: ex-pupils. Persistently disrespective pupils get expelled from my school, and it's just an ordinary state school in a deprived area.

finfan7 (author)Kiteman2007-08-13

Yes getting kicked out can be considered a victory. I have a teacher I have worked with who is a great guy in general but also a great teacher. I was talking to him one day about a new policy the school had enstated. He said something I thought was pretty sensible for a teacher, "If I send some kid out of my room, That is saying something to them and everyone else. It says 'I cannot handle you, I am not good enough to handle a smartalec(sp?) kid less than half my age' and I never will say that to any rebellious kid because I know I can handle them." He is one of the list of teachers I have had conversations with and decided were good teachers. And the intent of the instructable is to provide information on how to go through an argument looking to win. How the person uses the information is their business. I do not advocate being an asshole for the sake of being an asshole or getting attention. This is intended to be used in a logical manner on subjects where the authority figure actually is wrong, not arguing just "to be a stroppy, disrepectful, juvenile delinquent." Also, I go to a school where you can get away with most anything if you put a little logic into your actions. You win an argument with a more intelligent teacher, and you will recieve an admission of failure and a new respect.(I would much rather have a teacher who respects me but finds me argumentative than one who does things illogically) If you get kicked out of the classroom you sit down a few feet down from the door and wait patiently until the next class starts. No one will bother you. You actually have to get physical with someone to warrant any real punishment. Lastly I will add something on a topic I realize I failed to mention; Thinking ahead to choose your battles. Thank you for the reminder.

Kiteman (author)finfan72007-08-14

"If I send some kid out of my room, That is saying something to them and everyone else. It says 'I cannot handle you, I am not good enough to handle a smartalec(sp?) kid less than half my age' and I never will say that to any rebellious kid because I know I can handle them."

Whereas it is our school's policy that other pupils do not deserve to have their education disrupted by rebellious pupils, and teachers should not have to handle them, but should be allowed to concentrate on teaching.

Pupils have a right to as good an education as possible, but they have a responsibility as well; not to deny that same right to others by preventing teachers from teaching.

ilpug (author)Kiteman2011-02-14

In that case, the teacher should spend their entire time teaching, rather than disrupting class to worry about whether or not someone is wearing a hat, something that (unless it has an inherently disruptive quality, such as being huge and wobbly, or having annoying little bells) has no real effect on how the class is taught. The teacher is disrupting that student by bothering him about something useless, and also the rest of the class by spending time bothering said student. I see no reason for a school to have a ban on non disruptive hats.

On a lighter, less argumentative note, if there was a teacher who had a terrible hate for hats, the entire class should go and buy yarmulkes and show up wearing them. When the teacher bothers them about their hats, they can all say that they have converted to Judaism and that they cannot remove the hats. That would be funny, but then again it would remove their ability to learn while they were getting in trouble, so it would be against the above-said statement that your school operates under.

Kiteman (author)ilpug2011-02-15

If there is a rule against hats (or an expectation that pupils follow basic manners), then the hat becomes a disruption automatically - if one pupil is allowed to disregard one rule for no reason without consequence, then there is no reason for any rules to be followed.

ilpug (author)Kiteman2011-02-15

i agree.

finfan7 (author)Kiteman2007-08-28

Hahaha rights. To have the right to something means to have the right to not have it should it be ones choice. There is no choice involved in whether one has to go to school. My first guess as to how you will respond to this is the usual kids don't know whats best for them. The fact is neither do adults or any other member of the human race. And as far as the argument disrupting class time I must say that if you cannot handle one uppity student without overly disrupting classflow then it is your own problem. I personally have found arguments twixt teacher and student to be good learning experiences in their own right. They activate strategic and logical thinking which most students these days, and many adults as well, seem to lack. Given the choice, I would much rather employ a smart bastard than a nice twit.

Kiteman (author)finfan72007-08-29

I think you're mixing up argument, debate and disruptive row.

finfan7 (author)Kiteman2007-08-31

An argument is only as disruptive as you make it.

Advocat (author)finfan72010-02-04

I disagree. It takes two people to argue, and one might be having their period.

Bitsi (author)Kiteman2008-07-10

Learning about civic rights and responsibilities is something that some youngsters can only understand through test and experiment. (Some learn it through observation) I say, let the high schools and colleges be their laboratory. And let them spar with their elders to sharpen their skills. If they get out of hand, just smack them around a little bit. That's called 'setting limits'. I hear that kids today appreciate that. :-)

killerjackalope (author)Kiteman2008-08-27

You're right, being thrown out isn't a victory, I've been thrown out of classes before, once for arguing the basic laws of physics with a teacher, sadly it got to the point where the whole class were watching and she was really not wanting to be proven wrong, just as I'm going out the door a pupil says, miss he's right he and I end up sitting in the end of another class...

That's not a victory for me, being removed from the argument and on top of that being ridiculed.

A victory in argument is to me at least what happens when the other side comes round to your argument, sadly this is rare with authority figures unless they already sympathized making argument unlikely...

I've found the pupils that I've seen thrown out and the ones I've seen be asked to leave are the ones that show zero respect to a teacher, those that argue with respect seem to be the only oens that ever win and only when they're right, sometimes a newer teacher will change tacts and let the pupil be because they're not settled yet and would rather not do the argument but the older wiser teachers that know enough to know when to keep going seems to be quite indifferent to a good argument and won't hold a grudge if mutual respect is held up.

on one occasion I tipped my old media studies upside down because he took my food away, the result was laughing and such because we treated each other with civility until he stole my crackers, however a vice principal came by and saw this, at which point I had to very hastily explain myself since he got revenge by asking me to explain what was going on... The vice principal was pleased to hear the teacher had volunteered to help explain in case another pupil got damaged by this...

Ok that wasn't a confrontational issue so much but in my eyes I think it's an example of how something completely unreasonable can go just fine...

finfan7 (author)2008-05-27

Your manner of speech is strange but I believe I understand the intent of your speech. That is actually a whole different kind of problem. The kickboxing is probably a good solution, though. Its good for him on a couple different levels. Good luck.

ilpug (author)finfan72011-02-14

Except getting kicked in the face? No, i think kickboxing is a great form of excercise and stress relief, when done safely.

11tillr (author)2011-02-09

I liked this, it reminds of a book called, "The Phrase Dropper's Handbook"
- "a lifesaving guide to getting into, out or on top of all kinds of conversations"

nutsandbolts_64 (author)2010-06-07

How to win an argument without disrespecting the other guy. If you're talking about the definition of an object, use the dictionary (like I did on greymatter). If you're arguing over what you did or something ex. "HEY, YOU GOT A PROBLEM PUNK?!?!" if you say "no" and he keeps coming at you with pointless accusations, just walk away and don't look back. If you are looking for a fight say "yes" and do your violent business <insert the usual disclaimer>. I don't advise fighting though. This is just amateur advise so don't expect me to tell you things that'll save your life... again <insert the usual disclaimer here>

trebuchet03 (author)2007-07-16

Please add images to your project. While I understand that this project has no tangible end - we really require that all of our projects have images. Feel free to get creative ;) Once you've made this correction, please feel free to republish.

finfan7 (author)trebuchet032007-07-25

Better? I can't take pictures of the strategies but i can get pictures of the symbolism.

Advocat (author)finfan72010-02-04

Didn't realise this was 3 and a half years old. Although it would be nice to see those symbolic pictures.

Has this 'ible gone further? Have the strategies taken growth at all?

lemonshark10 (author)2008-05-21

I have one teacher this year that is impossible to argue with. For example I had a test in which we had to make a diagram of an ocean wave breaking. I Drew a diagram that showed all the required information how ever i forgot to label the beach. I did however label the ocean floor which was under the object labeled water. This object labeled ocean floor the rose above the water and wave broke on it. After receiving my test i noticed that i had lost 5 out of 20 points that the diagram was worth, and had no idea why. This prompted me to approach him after class. After explaining to him my confusion he stated that i neglectated to label the beach. I responded that i had figured that it would be easily distinguishable as the beach see that it is the ocean floor that rose out of the water and had waves breaking on it. His reply was along the lines of, "You are asking me to assume something to make your answer correct. If i had assumed something that made your answer incorrect you would be right here arguing with me," I simply could not find a way to counter that without receiving some sort of consequence. So i simply had to walk away with my tail in between my legs.

finfan7 (author)lemonshark102008-05-24

my sympathies lemonshark, but two things: 1) your teacher phrased that excellently. That is a tough bit of phrasing to turn back. 2)You may not like to hear it but... your teacher was right. The only point you could argue would be if there were no indications of how many labels were necessary to complete the diagram. There should have been some indication of the number of objects which needed to be labeled and if there wasn't it was the fault of the teacher for not giving any such indication.

Advocat (author)finfan72010-02-04

> your teacher was right.

I disagree. How can you say he was right when you wasn't there. It is beyond right and wrong. The phrasing was cheap, nasty and clever, and shows the teacher doesn't really pay attention to his students.

He just plumbs them with with pipes and then tests them.

He builds them like bricks, then he takes a hammer to them.

lemonshark10 (author)finfan72008-05-26

It was not so much that I lost points but rather the amount of points I lost. I lost one quarter of the value of the questions for something that was in no way a test of my academic understanding of how waves break when that is what the question was designed to test for. As for the labels it asked for (I'm going from memory. I wish I could find the test.) "Please label everything(trougth, crest, wavelength, etc.)" I guess he has me on the "label everything" but the examples are very misleading and also it kills me when I lose points when I understand the subject matter. I thought test were made to test understanding of concepts not ability to label "Beach", But I guess thats just me.

No, tests are made to test your ability to take tests(a.k.a. follow directions).

Advocat (author)lemonshark102010-02-04

Suggested sentence:
"I am not asking you to assume anything. The ocean bed extends above the reach of the water, and I do not see why I have to label the same thing twice, just because it is above water at one part." Do not smile, as smiling extends to show complicity.
Make short sentences that make sense, and don't bog yourself down. If you find it helps hold something in your fist, but do not hold a fist just for the sake of showing violence/competitiveness. Don't wave things like pens/fingers or implements at the other person. Look them in the eye and look at your work as well. If you feel your coming on too strong - look and gesture at your work. Keep your work inbetween you and the arguee. Do not allow them to move it to one side. You know you have won when they take it to revise the mark.

This teacher like others, most probably lost you marks on other things like presentation and theory, and you should ask why and what you have lost marks on.

Unit042 (author)2009-04-05

"...without fear of getting in trouble. Screw that. Who says you should be aloud to feel big and powerful by..."

aloud = out loud
allowed = permitted

PS: a comma every now and then would be lovely.

But good logicality here, albeit targeted toward autority figures. It's not good to pick a fight with a teacher that did nothing except give homework, but then again, what can they do---ten days of suspension? Expelling? Those are rewards, so there may be some merit in these almost despicable actions.

hippojoe (author)2007-09-19

Last year I had a teacher that LOVED to rub my mistakes in face so she would pull me aside after class anytime that I made the slightest mistakes. Which often led to arguments. By the 3rd nine weeks I won most of them and by the 4th nine weeks she would pull me aside, I would give her the death stare and she would get too nervous to lecture me in a respectable manner and send me off. Once I even did it in class and she started moving quicker and jumbling words up until she finally gave up and gave me detention for 3 days. No lie. The death stare is a very powerful tactic. If you have a teacher that sais look at me when their punishing you it works very well. It takes practice to get it right but when you do you can have your superiors in fear of you.

finfan7 (author)hippojoe2007-09-20

The stare is definitely a wonderful tool for cracking their composure. I use it all the time on everyone, friends, teachers, family, and anybody else I am forgetting to mention. It prevents them from thinking clearly. I have gotten rid of problems by staring them down many times. It does tend to scare people off sometimes though. Mine got a girl to replace the word god with my name in normal speach. I do wonder what you mean by death stare. How is a "death stare" different from my own version?

Bitsi (author)finfan72008-07-10

This is funny. I had a student who did this to me. I didn't know that it had a name. I figured that he was trying to use his super secret psychic powers to make me have a heart attack and die. Strangely, day after day, I completely failed to expire under his penetrating gaze. Perhaps not coincidentally, he also failed: the exams and ultimately the course. I think that if he had ever exerted the same level of effort thinking about the course material as he exerted trying to make me die, he might have done okay. He's gone now. Perhaps he even graduated. I think of him fondly as, 'the loser kid with the impotent stare'. :-)

finfan7 (author)Bitsi2008-07-10

Heheheh, "super secret psychic powers." Alliteration is fun.

bounty1012 (author)finfan72009-01-20


hippojoe (author)finfan72008-05-19

There is none.

Vertigo666 (author)finfan72008-04-29

Hehe. I stare at people instead of arguing when I'm tired. It works amazingly. Fun hehe.

Yerboogieman (author)hippojoe2008-05-19

whats the death stare?

hippojoe (author)Yerboogieman2008-05-20

It's what I call staring(?) them down. So that they KNOW you hate their guts.

finfan7 (author)hippojoe2008-05-24

Nah. You can't express hate or other negative emotions. That ruins your credibility. They just say, "Bah, he/she just is being beligerent because he/she doesn't like me." You have to burn holes through them with positive emotion. You show 1000% confidence that you are right and they will have a hard time dealing with that.

Yerboogieman (author)hippojoe2008-05-20

now i get it, man my middle school principal hated it when i did that, and everything i said when i was in his office was always true so he wasnt sure what to do with me

codongolev (author)2008-12-19

my mom's mind goes in a circle. for instance, If I was to tell her why I wanted to buy the pink one over the blue one: "but it's pink, don't you want blue?" well, I have spray paint, it's not too hard to do." "but you wouldn't need to if you bought the blue one." "but see, the pink one is less expensive." "but it's pink, don't you want blue?" "well, the pink one has wheels." "but it's pink!" "I HAVE FRICKIN' SPRAY PAINT." ha, jk. I love my mommy.

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