Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Art of the Rebuttal

Ah, the art of the rebuttal.

We've seen lawyers do it in the movies and on TV:
"Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, although you have seen some gruesome evidence in this trial so far, I am here to tell you that the wrong man is being blamed for this crime!"

Image result for judge jury

We've seen  salesmen do it to make a sale:
"You may be thinking, 'Gee, that sure is a lot to spend on a car!' But, seriously, think about how much time you spend in your car.  Half of your life is spent driving around!  Do you really want to skimp on comfort in, what is basically, your second home?"

Image result for car salesman

Dentists do it:
"I know flossing every night is a pain, but you would look pretty silly without any teeth if they rot away, right?"

And, yes, teenagers do it:
"Mom, I know that a trip to DC with my 8th grade class is expensive, but just think about all the educational experiences I will have!  That kind of learning is priceless!"

Anybody who is skilled at argument knows the value of a strong rebuttal.

You never want to just barge your way through an argument, spouting off only reasons why you are right, without acknowledging the other side.  It's disrespectful to your audience to just say- well, you're wrong! without giving careful consideration to what they think or feel, or what the evidence may be against your arguments.  Good argument is built on honest attention to the facts.  You can't just wish them away and yell the loudest that your side is right.  That may have worked on the playground, but not in the real world.

But how do we address the other side of our argument, the counter-argument, without weakening our own claim?

Very carefully!  You want to be clear to acknowledge what the other point of view is, while still making your point very well understood.  No wishy-washy responses.  No flip-flopping.  Respect their points of view, but stick to your claim.

Try using these sentences starters to help with counter-arguments and rebuttals.  They are a great way to organize your ideas, without weakening your piece.  Make people take you seriously!

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