The need to discuss and argue accompanies us throughout our lives. A successful discussion serves to realize our personal interests, to rise above ourselves, and to convey authority.
To stay focused during a discussion, you need thematic preparation on the topic, some practice in arguing, the right body language, and a clear and attentive mind.
Here, you’ll learn how to be confident and focused when arguing your positions in discussions.
Requirements For a Discussion
To help you stay focused during an important discussion or conversation, some preparations and methods are very useful.
- Do not eat much before an important discussion or conversation. Digestion requires a lot of energy. Everyone knows the feeling of being tired after a sumptuous meal. Eat little, especially fresh food.
- Drink enough water. Our brain needs water to function. A lack of water leads to a lack of concentration. Drink 0.3–0.5 liters of water before the discussion.
- If possible, stretch before the discussion or talk. Going into a discussion with a tense neck is not very conducive for you.
- Take a few breaths of fresh air before the discussion or meeting. Oxygen increases your ability to concentrate.
- If you have 5 minutes before the discussion, do some breathing exercises. These exercises will lower your pulse and blood pressure, and you will become more relaxed.
Learning to Discuss
In school and training, you learn the basic skills you need to be interested and convincing in a discussion.
And even in adulthood, there’s still a lot to learn from the methods used there. As with everything that can be learned, practice makes perfect.
Even the easiest exercises can ensure lasting success. A refresher course in the old-school methods helps to memorize the basic principles of a discussion.
Writing an argument
In schools, it is common to write arguments and have discussions in class. Argumentative expression and interrelated thinking should be encouraged.
To support your argument, you first state a thesis and then make an argument with meaningful examples. In written form, this still has little of a discussion. You should merely practice finding many arguments and packaging them convincingly.
Even as an adult with a fear of discussion, writing arguments about the positions on an issue can help you. The written form of the argument exercise sets the stage for a verbal discussion.
Group discussion forms an advanced exercise variation. Two groups are frequently formed to discuss one another. It is not uncommon for a discussion leader to keep an eye on whether everyone is brought into the discussion and no one gets lost in the heat of the moment.
After all, the point is to learn that both sides are important in a discussion and that fair play is an important part of it. A discussion “won” by largely loud monologues from one side is not argumentatively valuable.
Introverted participants tend to keep a low profile in a larger discussion group. These people are usually conflict shy and still have problems asserting their opinions later in their professional lives.
The important thing here is to prepare for the discussion. The more you have studied arguments and positions on the subject, the more confident you become.
Discussing is first and foremost a craft that anyone can learn. It takes some time to concentrate on a subject before beginning a conversation or talking about it.
Types of Argumentation
A distinction is made between serious and unserious types of argumentation. These two variations often flow into each other.
When no more serious arguments can be found, many people resort to so-called “argumentation reserves,” which are low in content.
There are six different types of arguments (listed below) that are usually considered serious. Arguments that aren’t taken seriously try to get people to feel sorry for them, scare them, or are just made up.
General statements that aren’t backed up by evidence and come from social norms also don’t have much weight.
There are different reasons why a discussion arises. It does not necessarily have to end in the complete conviction of the other person.
In circles of friends or acquaintances, for example, discussions can take place on the basis of political views without any agreement being reached.
In workshops and professional meetings, on the other hand, members should have already come to a decision or compromise that everyone agrees on so that the work can go forward.
Discussions can also occur in everyday life. Here, it is useful to have a certain power of persuasion so that you do not always have to take a back seat and can pursue your own needs.
Discuss And Argue Better With These Tips
The following tips and exercises will help you strengthen your assertiveness in discussions. Not only will this boost your self-esteem, but it will also improve your career opportunities if you can persuade others of who you are and what you believe.
Preparing For The Discussion
- If you already know that a discussion is coming up in a meeting, you have the advantage of being able to prepare.
- You should definitely take advantage of this opportunity to prepare! Many participants go into meetings unprepared.
- If you have well-thought-out arguments ready ahead of time, you have a big advantage over people who have to figure out their arguments as they talk.
- Reflect on your arguments and check them for possible weaknesses. What could you best convince your counterpart of, and what would also be in his interest?
- If you know your discussion partner, use all the information you have about him and mention the aspects of your argument that also play an important role for him.
- If you are not skilled at debating, you should also prepare yourself mentally. Set a goal that you want to get out of the discussion and try to achieve it.
Create Pro And Con Lists
You can select pro and con arguments on a topic in the same way that you would when writing an argument. Use popular speeches, theories, or non-fiction texts on the topic of discussion.
You do not even have to write out the sentences completely. It is only a matter of briefly presenting the arguments. If you repeat this exercise regularly, you will find it easier to find arguments in a conversation.
It is important to look at both sides and collect arguments. Even if you do not personally represent one side, you will learn to evaluate potential arguments of your opponent.
If you know roughly what your opponent might say, you don’t have to be afraid of sudden surprises. Over time, you’ll get better at figuring out what your opponent is like, and you won’t have any trouble talking to them on the spot.
You Can Use These Types of Arguments
- The factual argument is based on facts. Either this information is based on personal experience or on sound scientific evidence. Serious news reports and press work can also be cited.
- The authority argument represents experts in a particular field. The arguments are based on theories and statements of recognized scientists, politicians, and economists.
- The value argument is based on moral or societal norms and values. This type of argument is based on moral reasons, like the need for democracy and freedom of speech.
- The logic argument is about how people come to logical conclusions based on probability calculations.
- The indirect argument has the property of overriding the opposing argument. It gives reasons why the opposing argument is not logical, is based on false facts, or is inconsistent with other arguments given.
- The analogizing argument connects the actual topic of the argument to another topic. A comparison is made to support the original thesis. It can also be supportive in the form of a metaphor.
Pay Attention to Your Body Language
Your body language tells the other person that you really believe what you’re saying and are not just saying it because you think it’s right. So use not only your mind, but also gestures, facial expressions, and your voice.
With a straight back and a lot of gesticulation through your hands, you appear more passionate and authoritative. Your voice should not tremble, but instead radiate calmness and objectivity.
This way, you have a better chance that your opponent will respect your point of view and that you will convince him.
Rhetoric is the best way to radiate seriousness and persuasiveness. This includes confident word choice and rhetorical adaptation to your audience.
Whether you want to convince one person or several people is not important. Think about using simpler words or even jargon to get out of the conversation successfully.
In principle, you should neither slur your words nor use the word “um” often. In this case, you would sound very uncertain. The listeners would become skeptical and doubt you.
Your argumentation would be unconvincing. To develop your rhetorical skills, there are seminars and training courses. You can also get inspiration by simply listening to good speakers.
People whose speeches are convincing to you can serve as rhetorical role models. Expanding your vocabulary and general knowledge can also help you improve your rhetoric.
Exercise is Important
There are numerous methods designed to teach conflict resolution. However, the focus is often on dispute resolution. General discussion is often only encouraged in a fragmented way.
Yet it is not only in everyday life that there is a need for discussion. Even on the job, a large part of the day consists of discussions. How to do so, however, has not been officially taught here before.
If you’re worried about how convincing you are, try to talk to people more often in your free time. Practice with friends or family.
The main thing is that you get used to discussing it and lose the fear of it. If you want to increase the difficulty level, try arguing for something you are not actually convinced of.
Common Questions About Concentration in Conversations – FAQ
Can I drink alcohol before important conversations?
A: No. Alcohol, even in small amounts, dulls your ability to concentrate, and you lose your focus more quickly.
Can I drink coffee or tea before important discussions?
A cup of coffee or tea won’t hurt. Just don’t overdo it, and avoid anything that might make you feel pepped up. It is best to drink water!
I have too much respect for an interlocutor; what should I do?
A: Prepare yourself very well for such discussions! The better your arguments are, the faster you will be perceived as competent. Argue calmly and objectively!
How important is it to let people finish?
It is extremely important to let the other person finish. This shows that you care about them and gives you time to calmly think about their points. Do not interrupt your conversation partners!
What should I do if I can no longer follow a conversation?
Ask the participants of the conversation politely for an explanation of their individual positions or terms. This will not make you look incompetent. Say that you want to understand exactly how the argument relates to the topic of discussion. This is what scientists or politicians do in public discussions; we usually don’t notice it. Pay attention.
What do I do if I lose concentration in a conversation?
A: Ask for a short interruption or excuse yourself and say that you have to go to the toilet (or the like). If no one is watching, take a few deep breaths and think about your arguments again. When you’re ready again, go back into the conversation.
What do I do if a participant makes an emotional argument?
Do not respond to emotional arguments. You cannot refute them. Return the focus to the factual level.
What do I do if a participant attacks me personally?
Do not respond to personal arguments. Participants only use personal arguments out of weakness. It is best to respond with facts and make it clear that you would rather get back to talking about facts.