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How to Argue & Win Every Time: At Home, At Work, In Court, Everywhere, Everyday Paperback – April 15, 1996
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From Publishers Weekly
Lawyer Spence's guide to winning arguments spent 26 weeks on PW's bestseller list.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
A celebrity defense lawyer who garners quantity face-time during publicity-soaked trials, Spence, as attentive O. J.-ers know, is the aw-shucks Wyomingite who hates neckties, prosecutors, bankers, and pretense in general. He also hates losing an argument, which he has rarely done in a courtroom. Here, Spence distills his bar experience into the secrets of his success and translates that into the plain language of the real world of jobs, romance, and child rearing. Spence exhorts readers to believe that the art of arguing is verily the art of living, and aversion to argumentativeness only hinders people from getting what they want. So throughout this disputation, Spence anticipates objections (which he dubs the "Lock" ) and supplies refutations (dubbed the "Key" ). Spence's overall keys to winning are to contend without being contentious, to persuade instead of overwhelming "the Other," and to always be credible. Though discursive in style, Spence's prose is pointedly sharp in essence and displays unself-consciously his own flamboyant personality. Rises above the herd in the conduct-of-life genre. Gilbert Taylor
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Top Customer Reviews
Let me start by saying that the title of this book is a bit misleading, and intentionaly so. This book isn't about arguing as much as it's about communicating. Mr. Spence useds the word 'argument' in the context that everything we articulate- whether it's a desire to teach , punish, express wants or state an oppinion- is essentialy an argument.
The twist to this little tome is that effective arguing is not a act of selfishness but a labor of love. A good argument is one in which the greatest good is served.
I particularly found the chapter on arguing with kids quite useful. I tend to be quite authoritarian and rule oriented when it comes to child rearing and this little chapter taught me that kids will grow into responsible loving adults without being constantly hovered over and corraled into so called 'correct behavior'. This chapter is worth the price of the book alone.
I recommend this book to anyone who has ever asked for anything in his/her life. Well hell! I must be recommending this book to everyone.
Very briefly; you have to prepare, you have to listen to the other, you have to understand the other, find common ground, and you have to be credible. Therefore you should not avoid emotions and your argument should be personal, and you must always be truthful. Our argument cannot be perceived as a threat or we will never be heard, and assault is not argument. He discusses how to deal with prejudice and hostility and tells us that sometimes losing is winning and sometimes an argument shouldn’t be made at all. He also mentions that telling personal stories is a good way of getting people to see things your way. In addition to advice and guidelines there’s also quite a bit of wisdom and personal opinions, some of which I agree with and some of which I don’t agree with.
One thing I object to is that he sometimes overextends his perspective. For example, there are arguments, or communications, which should avoid emotions and for which the people involved and even their perceived credibility should not matter. I am talking about peer review in natural science and mathematical discourse, which I see as the best path towards “truth”. In that case only the evidence matter and the data and mathematical derivations speak for itself. However, that is outside of his expertise, like so much else that is outside of his expertise. That’s why I titled my review “A Lawyer’s Perspective”.
That does not mean it is not a good book. The book is filled with useful insights and I learned a lot from the book. One of the things I learned from this book is that if I know a lot about a subject and I am arguing with someone who’s very misinformed but stubborn I must resist the temptation to be patronizing, or to crush them. My goal should be to inform them, not to make them hate me. That was just one of many examples of what I’ve learned reading this book. I highly recommend this book.
FYI: As of Oct 2011 Mr Spence is in his 80's and though retired still blogs. When I was writing my book I emailed him and he responded personally the same day.
Author of "A Painful Truth - The Entrapment of America's Sick"
(How Being Ill Got Me Arrested)
How to Argue and When Every Time is a wonderful guide to being a better communicator. I have bought several copies and I continue to give to friends and employees who struggle to be understood. Great read!