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Debate strategies: hold the easy punches - it makes you look superior

There was a critical post recently.

The poster made a few mistakes that I could have exploited, including:

  • Accuses me of taking advantage of being a native English speaker: an obvious and factual error I could have easily pointed out
  • Takes issue with "taking care of one's physical appearances" as a sign of quality: a relatively easy point to address and dismantle
  • Goes personal with "psychologizing": it was relatively easy to point out the cheap approach of winning the argument against the writer, rather than arguing about the content
  • Angry tone: accusing her of taking it personally because she was seeing the signs of low-quality women in herself would have been an easy way of scoring a point (but it would have been the worst mistake and lowest behavior of this whole list, and self-framed me as nasty and petty)

However, you might have noticed that I didn't directly address or leverage none of those above points.

Why not?

Now we get into the strategy described here.

Because addressing them would have meant delivering "too easy" punches against an opponent that had over-extended and that was too easy to strike.

Since she came in aggressive, and that aggression might have justified a more forceful reaction, it might have been easy to miss the power dynamics at play.
But the power dynamics of you attacking an easy opponent are an example of the general "power scalping". In this case, you'd use an easy opponent to gain personal power.
The easy opponent becomes the "social peg" for your social status climbing.

But, as for most social climbing, attacking the easy opponent would have self-framed me as petty, overly focused on winning/defending for status, and too ego-fragile.

More schematically, delivering those "too easy" punches:

  • Adds little value: many people either know or recognize by themselves that the above points make her message less credible. So me addressing them add relatively little value
  • Makes me sound petty, and defensive: addressing all the above points makes me sound very defensive, and like I'm taking it very personal, which in turns means:
  • I'd follow her lead going low: I'd have followed her lead on getting emotional, confrontational, and personal. In short, I would have allowed her to make me act like a turkey, instead of remaining higher
  • Make me seem overly confrontation and fragile-minded: the more I'd have refuted her point, the more it would have looked like I needed to refute her point, which in turn signals a fragile ego, rather than an antifragile one
  • Picks a fight, makes me look confrontational: the more fights you pick, the more you seem overly invested, overly confrontational, and too hell-bent on winning and dominating, rather than letting your argument speak for themselves, and letting the people decide for themselves on the basis of your argument (power through).
    Often, when there is a chance for sidestepping arguments without losing value, it's best to sidestep the argument
Matthew Whitewood, Stef and 2 other users have reacted to this post.
Matthew WhitewoodStefselffriendSerena Irina
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Just a minor "correction" regarding the point 1:

Accuses me of taking advantage of being a native English speaker

Her main message was not accusing you for taking advantage of being a native English speaker; her main message was that there are a lot of non-native English speakers, so you cannot conclude that someone who cannot speak good English is low quality.

I think, regarding this point, both of you make sense on this specific issue. Indeed, a lot of woman choose not to speak good English because her job does not need English. Or she could think that you are of low value, so she does not need to try to speak good English to you.

However, if you could be sure that someone who wanted to speak good English, invested in a lot of time and money, but still speak bad English, the she is not the best language learner. If this is the background, I agree with your point. Of course, you could further argue that English is the only global language so any high-value man must learn it; this is fair.


 

By the way, I guess that you (indirectly) leveraged the point 4, angry tone:

  • Angry tone: accusing her of taking it personally because she was seeing the signs of low-quality women in herself would have been an easy way of scoring a point (but it would have been the worst mistake and lowest behavior of this whole list, and self-framed me as nasty and petty)

 

By saying this:

  • Potentially disempowering their sexual strategy: if the judge is teaching men how to screen women, that can empower men, but disempower a lot of women. Of course the screened out women are going to be the angriest

Well, some might argue that saying that angriest women are "screened out" is "direct". Note that here I am only discussing the techniques, rather than accessing anyone to have the "lowest behavior of this whole list, and self-framed as nasty and petty".

I strongly agree with the rest of all your arguments. Any feedbacks are welcome.

Stef has reacted to this post.
Stef

This reminds me of what Stef said on powerful nice guys:

Quote from Stef on December 11, 2020, 2:53 pm from Open Discussion on Latest Red Pill Video

The red pill is only "useful" as a lader to extreme ex-nice guys in the bad sense of being nice (from a position of weaknesses, poweful nice guys we called those magnanimous...) to move them closer to the other pole, this lader should be discarded as soon as possible, and only keeps currency as a rethorical device against bad faith arguers from other extreme positions.

This looks like power magnanimity.

It's like in chess.
You are way ahead in position.
So you ignore capturing the pawns.
And go for checkmate with a few moves.

Since she came in aggressive, and that aggression might have justified a more forceful reaction, it might have been easy to miss the power dynamics at play.
But the power dynamics of you attacking an easy opponent are an example of the general "power scalping". In this case, you'd use an easy opponent to gain personal power.
The easy opponent becomes the "social peg" for your social status climbing.

What I'm understanding here is to focus on the content.
This will indirectly show that one cares more about having a logical discussion than defending against personal issues.
Not defending and counter-attacking also shows that you are unaffected by personal remarks.

Would This Method Work Against Powerful People Like Donald Trump?

I'm thinking if Hillary Clinton ignored some of Trump attacks when she was speaking during the debates and focus on the core issues, she could make Donald Trump look hyper-extended and paint herself as a sound logical person.

In below's segment, when Donald Trump interrupts Hillary during her time, she should ignore and give her own frame on the discussion.

When Should We Attack Back Strongly

Donald Trump however does sometimes attack back strongly in a very effective manner.
Like focusing on Hillary Clinton's weaknesses.

I suppose you need to only do this if you need to distract an audience away from your opponent's attack.
If the attack is not very credible, it's best to not attack and go for a more logical discussion.

It seems like a complex strategy of when to ignore your opponent's possible weaknesses.

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Lucio BuffalmanoStefselffriend

Matthew: This looks like power magnanimity.

It's like in chess.
You are way ahead in position.
So you ignore capturing the pawns.
And go for checkmate with a few moves.

Exactly.

It's more effective strategically and, we might say, in this case -it's not always thee case- it also happens to be the more "ethical" path -piling it on is rather cheap-.

Matthew: What I'm understanding here is to focus on the content.
This will indirectly show that one cares more about having a logical discussion than defending against personal issues.
Not defending and counter-attacking also shows that you are unaffected by personal remarks.

Exactly, that's one way to "go higher".

Also, you can focus on general principles, rather than the single individual -which my reply was mostly about: the general principles, rather than referring those general principles directly at the individual-.
It's of course possible, even likely, that the individual will still feel personally attacked because your reply, albeit remaining at a general level, still originated after her message. But if she keeps attacking while you have not done any personal attack, that might make her look even worse, which further plays into your hand.

Matthew: Would This Method Work Against Powerful People Like Donald Trump?

In that specific case, yes, it was a strategic mistake from Hillary to reply "well, not quite that long".

Matthew: When Should We Attack Back Strongly

Yes, and you make a great point in the message that follows.

This technique is not to say "never attack back".
It presents a debating and communication strategy for dealing with attacks that can be very effective, but it's not to say that it always works best, or that it should always be used.

I'd say that whenever the attack is:

  • Not obviously wrong for everyone to see
  • Well-crafted and effective
  • Mean-spirited, and makes you look weak if you ignore it
  • Mean-spirited, and you have an opportunity to frame your opponent as nasty / crude / unfit for leadership
  • Potentially very value-taking for you
  • Potentially "sticks" in people's minds
  • The attacker is already at your level -if they're not, you risk raising them at your level with your rebuttal-

Then going higher and ignoring might backfire because the attack is being very costly.

In a way, when to go higher and when to address is somewhat similar to the "accusation audit" we discussed in sales.
If you bring up and thread-expand on a topic that wasn't going to harm you, then you're probably doing wrong and fighting the wrong war.

The third alternative of course is to drop and attack back, which Trump often did, and which was effective in that case.
But that was a case where the two were directly pitted against one another. And there are plenty of situations in life when you're better off not letting people drag you into the ring.

Matthew Whitewood and Stef have reacted to this post.
Matthew WhitewoodStef
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

very interesting thread guys!

Similar technique used here:

Shapiro: why don't you just say you're on the left. Is it so hard for you?

The mistake is that the interviewer is a conservative.

Andrew knows Shapiro has made a huge mistake.

But it's best for him to let him simmer on his faux pas, and play superior while sticking to the interview, rather than getting dragged down on personal issues:

Andrew: (laughs, thread expands, implies his opponent has done a big mistake) Mr. Shapiro, if you only knew how ridiculous that statement is (thread expands while still playing it higher level and sticking to interview topics) 

Matthew Whitewood has reacted to this post.
Matthew Whitewood
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

I thought that the interviewer handled Shapiro very well.
He continued to focus on the questions.
It ended up making Shapiro look defensive and a bit angry like what the interviewer framed Shapiro in the last segment.

Thanks for sharing.
I think this could be a useful technique to keep in mind when debating with people who use some nasty tactics from time to time.
As such Donald Trump and Shapiro.

Sometimes addressing all the power moves would deviate the conversation thread away from a productive discussion.
This can happen easily when manipulators feel justified in making these moves.

Looks like you can have a productive interaction despite talking with nasty debaters.

Lucio Buffalmano and Transitioned have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoTransitioned

Yes, sticking it to the main topics is both high power, and high quality.

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Matthew WhitewoodTransitioned
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
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