How to get your point across

how to get your point across
Aug 20 2020

How to get your point across

How to Make Your Arguments Stronger.

I wanted to share this with you. With the tenant eviction ban about to be lifted unless any last-minute U-turns by Boris and his team. I found this article to be interesting and will be applying some if not all of the theories for when we negotiate with tenants to try preventing tenant evictions and to recover debt on behalf of landlords.

I did know that trying to overwhelm people with a mountain of evidence is very rarely the answer to the problem.


Have you ever been in a heated discussion and wanted so badly to show the other person just how wrong they were? I am guessing as Landlords and others dealing with difficult tenants this is a given.

As it turns out, piling on the proof is an unwise approach, says Niro Sivanathan, a psychology researcher and associate professor of organizational behavior at London Business School. That’s because when we double down on our arguments, we’re setting ourselves up to be undone by the so-called “dilution effect”.

For humans, receiving too much information interferes with our ability to process it. Sivanathan explain that our minds deal with this by quickly sorting the input received into two types: diagnostic and non-diagnostic. He says, “Diagnostic information is the information of relevance to the evaluation being made; non-diagnostic is information that is irrelevant or inconsequential to that evaluation. When both categories of information are mixed, dilution occurs.”

To show you how this works, Sivanathan describes two different students: Tim and Tom.

Tim studies 31 hours a week outside class.

Tom also studies 31 hours a week outside class. He has a brother and two sisters, he visits his grandparents, he once went on a blind date, and he plays pool every two months.

In an experiment, says Sivanathan, most of the participants said that Tim had a significantly higher GPA than Tom — even though the two put in the exact same amount of time studying. Why? All of the non-diagnostic information (the extraneous detail about his personal life) given about Tom diluted the diagnostic information (how many hours he studies) presented.

“The most robust psychological explanation for this is averaging,” says Sivanathan. Rather than adding up pieces of information and assigning them different values, most of us appear to average them in their minds. He adds, “So when you introduce irrelevant or even weak arguments, those weak arguments reduce the weight of your overall argument.” Brings memories of the KISS theory from school. Depending on your teacher the last S meant something different.

One example of how this dilution effect has real-world consequences is in drug advertising, says Sivanathan. It’s a requirement in the US for the side effects of prescription medications must be listed at the end of TV or radio commercials. But if you listen, you’ll notice that the commercials never end right after the listing of the major side effects such as stroke, heart attack or death. Instead, they’ll either end on minor side effects (such as headaches or itchiness) or on neutral information (such as telling people to discuss medication with their doctor). The drug manufacturers, consciously or not, is using the dilution effect — by including so much information, they end up watering down consumers’ assessments of how risky the drug actually is.

Sivanathan found this phenomenon confirmed in his own research. In one study, two groups of people were shown lists of side effects for the same drug. One group’s list contained both major and minor side effects, while the other group’s list contained just the major side effects. The results: “Individuals who were exposed to both the major side effects as well as the minor side effects rated the drug’s overall severity to be significantly lower than those who were only exposed to the major side effects,” says Sivanathan. “Furthermore, they also showed greater attraction towards consuming this drug.”

How can you use his insights to win over people in your own life? Sivanathan advises us to stick to their strongest points; resist the temptation to try besting others with brute force. “ “The next time you want to speak up in a meeting, speak in favor of government legislation that you’re deeply passionate about, or help a friend see the world through a different lens, it’s important to note that the delivery of your message is every bit as important as its content,” he says. “You cannot increase the quality of an argument by simply increasing the quantity of your argument.”

How could you apply some of this to improve getting your point across in life?

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