I saw a post on Facebook today which made comparison between the amount of money a pensioner receives each week, and the amount of benefits given to an illegal immigrant each week.

Now don’t freak out, I’m not about to start getting political. But there was something about the argument that was put forward in the post that struck me. The post used very emotive language. It was well laid out with a chart comparing amounts awarded on a weekly basis to both parties, highlighting how the government gave more money to illegal immigrants than to our own pensioners who had spent their lives working in this country and contributing to the economy.

For a moment, I like many people thought “This is completely unfair.” Then, and really only because I had a moment spare, I decided to look more closely. I went on the government websites to check the payments awarded to pensioners on a weekly basis. I also checked the benefits of illegal immigrants. It will probably come as no surprise to you to find out that what the Facebook post had said was not accurate. Not only were the figures wrong, but actually if someone is an ILLEGAL immigrant, no one knows they are here (because they are here illegally) so they are not entitled to any benefits at all.

Obviously there is a whole other article about the dangers of Chinese whispers and second hand information but that I’ll save for another day. What I want to focus on as a result of this is elegant arguing.

We’ve all had moments where we felt something unfair or unjust was said or implied towards us and we respond very rapidly as a result. If we do not get the facts right then our response, pitch or plea can easily become overshadowed by the point we are trying to make or defend. Invalidating what might have been a very fair and reasonable argument.

The trick is not to replied rapidly, but reasonably. It’s easy to fall into the trap of giving a quick response, rather than the right one which will instead have the other party hear and acknowledge what you want to say. This means that even though your mouth may feel as if it is burning up with words ready to explode out of your mouth, you have to breathe and think before letting them go. And as you do that breath ask yourself a couple of quality questions. The one I am continuously reminded of by those who know me (and often hear me saying it is) “Really?” As in:

“Is that really the case?”
“Is this really all of the facts?”
“Is that really what you think?”

Sometimes, I have parked someone’s provocation for a few days, before I return to it and say “I’ve been thinking about the thing you said and whilst I agreed X, I have also noticed Y and that makes not everything you said entirely accurate.”

The other important lesson to come from the example that had me write this article in the first place, is to question the arguments of others – again elegantly. It’s really easy to be an “audio passenger” and just listen to what people say without question, without finding out your own truth and instead just buying into theirs, which again may not be factually accurate. (This is why I do not read newspapers!)

To do so elegantly, you simply become a participant rather than a passenger, asking softly “Really? Because I looked into that and actually it said…..”

By Gemma Bailey
NLP & Hypnotherapy Trainer

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