Written By Don Archer Connect with him on Facebook

If you’ve ever “gotten into it” with a customer over a tow bill you know how heated it can get. They’re upset because they’re under-insured or just don’t understand your expenses. And you’re upset because you’ve been screwed so many times before. Even though you’d love to vent and tell it like it is, strained emotions will get you nowhere. Because even if you do happen to get your point across and get them to understand, you lose. Because the next time they need a tow they’ll remember that angry guy and call someone else.

World renowned writer, John Carlton, says that; “No one in the history of humankind has ever changed their mind because of an argument.” And it’s true.

Whenever two sides are expressed in discussion and both participants are emotionally attached to their ideals, unless it comes to blows, the only result will be an impasse.  And when the discussion escalates into an argument then the likelihood of either side separating themselves from their ego and accepting the other person’s claim is next to zero.  For any change to occur, it must be left up to each individual, in their own time, to consider what was offered by the other party. Often times this is not done. But if it does happen, then and only then will a mind be changed. But it will only happen through their own understanding.  Rare is the person, who admits they were swayed by another’s reasoned argument.

Sounds like a difficult task, winning an argument. But if you want to give it a shot, if you think you’ve got what it takes, Carlton’s got a three step plan to do just that.

The first step is….To Not Argue.

This flies in the face of all that we know about winning. Nike says just do it…John’s advice is don’t do it.  How are you suppose to have a chance at winning if you bow out before it gets started?

But if you’re married you’ll get this one right away. Engaging in an argument with your wife is like…well…cutting off your hand because you have a splinter.  There’s no sense in it. And no it’s not because women are ill-equipped, quite the contrary. They’ve got all the tools and can use them quite effectively. Just know this; if you do happen to get the upper hand while arguing with your wife…if you get her “on the ropes”…she’ll dig in and sacrifice everything she holds dear to come out on top.  But…if by some miracle…the gods happen to favor you and you do succeed in…pulling-off the impossible and “win”…the resulting silence will be unbearable.

So don’t engage in argument.

The second step to winning an argument is: You must define what a “win” is.

When you were young and played baseball with your friends you might remember wanting to be up-to-bat first. And to get what you wanted you probably went about it by using rules or reasoning. You reasoned that; since the other guys were up-to-bat (first) last time, this time it’s your turn. Or the rule was…”losers bat first”…whatever it was it worked…most of the time.

Of course there wasn’t always agreement and quiet discourse. Sometimes, if a kid didn’t get his way he would cry and threaten to take his ball and go home.  But if you were smart and knew what a “win” was- sometimes you let things slide.  You learned back then that giving in on a trivial point like (being up-to-bat first) might be the difference between playing and not playing.

Defining what a “win” is, is about deciding what you really want out of the transaction. If you want to stick to your guns for the sake of ego that’s fine. Just know that, if your goal is to develop a business relationship or play a game of ball…stubbornness isn’t the vehicle to get you there.

Step 3 is to be like a used car salesman. Come in through the side-door. Whatever objections you receive about your statements should be listened to and considered with positive acknowledgement. No “yeah but’s” or vehement pleas for understanding- you must be the one who understands. A used car salesman must listen with genuine concern while steering the conversation in a direction that makes the sale. “You say you can’t afford it? Well I’ll see what kind of a payment plan we can get for you.”

It’s unfortunate, but many have forgotten what a “win” is. As most people get older they become more confident and comfortable with their opinions. They’re self-reliant and know how to get things done. Values change and many times they’re inclined to SAY IT LIKE IT IS, and let the chips fall where they may.  There’s nothing wrong with this philosophy if you like being and alone with little money.

But if you want to have great relationships, great customers and you want your business to thrive you need to find a way to get what you want while keeping others happy.