How to Win an Arguement With an Authority Figure




About: You really want to know more about me? Wow. If you really do, just ask me the questions directly.

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.

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Step 1: Pull the Rug Out From Under Them

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

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?

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

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.



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    63 Discussions

    techno guy

    6 years ago on Introduction

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

    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.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    10 years ago on Step 3

    "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!

    3 replies

    11 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    3 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

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


    12 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    8 replies

    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    "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.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    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.