How To Effortlessly Win Arguments And Avoid Being Told “You Don’t Listen”

Dre Baldwin
5 min readDec 11, 2020

The most common thing I hear whenever I’m in a back-and-forth debate/argument with someone (always in person; I don’t do much internet debate): “you’re not listening.”

Maybe, I’m just a terrible listener who loves the sound of his own voice. I allow space for that possibility.

Or, “you’re not listening to me” is the go-to escape clause people use when they fail to convert my opinion to be closer to their opinion.

Notice that you never hear BOTH people in a disagreement accusing each other of not listening. It’s usually just one person. Which means either they’re right — someone indeed is not listening — or they’re miffed that the accuser’s perspective, clearly perfect and unchallengeable, hasn’t been adopted.

I’m listening fully (or at least I think I am). I never, even in the midst of a heated disagreement, tell anyone that they’re not listening to me. The reason I don’t need that is this: I don’t engage with you expecting to change your opinion. I’m there to exchange opinions.

So if we talk for 20 minutes and you still feel how you felt at first, I’m OK with that!

When I challenge someone verbally, I’m not trying to “win” by changing your mind or beating you down with my perspective. I challenge you to see how strong your position is. I want to know how much you actually believe what you say, and if there’s any substance behind it (and if so, how much).

What I often find is there’s not much “meat on the bone” — which disappoints me. A substantial defense of a dissenting point of view is a great way for me to learn from someone. I can’t learn from you if you can’t substantially defend your own opinion.

If there’s substance behind a person’s point, they’ll stand on it and defend it. If there’s no substance, I’ll hear the same general bullet points as everyone else who has that same opinion. And, they grow frustrated when they fail to covert you.

I’ll still engage with this person, but the outcome is predictable: when I get to the root of their POV and challenge it clearly, they start pleading no contest (i.e., changing the subject or going back to their original point while ignoring the direct…

Dre Baldwin

The Discipline to Produce Your Best On Your Toughest Days. It ain’t for everybody. #TheThirdDay Creator of #WorkOnYourGame.