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Interrupt, Break, Divert the Dispute

 

Techniques General persuasion > The Art of Being Right > Interrupt, Break, Divert the Dispute

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

If you observe that your opponent has taken up a line of argument which will end in your defeat, you must not allow him to carry it to its conclusion, but interrupt the course of the dispute in time, or break it off altogether, or lead him away from the subject, and bring him to others. In short, you must effect the trick which will be noticed later on, the mutatio controversiae.

Example

 I am negotiating for a car and the price seems to be much higher than I want to pay but I feel I'll be forced into agreement. I stop the sales person by first going to the toilet (for a think). When I come back I say I've had a re-think and want to check out prices in other places and head towards the door. The salesperson immediately drops the price significantly, very close to my budget. So I pause and ask for further reduction, which I soon get.

Discussion

Sometimes you can feel trapped by the persuasions of the other person and that you will have to agree even though you really do not want to. This may well be because your emotions are engaged and you are unable to think fast enough about the deal. Just stepping back gives you time for this. It also signals to the other person that you cannot be 'led down the garden path'.

If you can distract the other person in some way, they may lose their train of thought, giving you an opening which you can use to change the game or put forward another argument.

Mutatio controversiae means 'change the controversy'.

'Interrupt, Break, Divert the Dispute' is the eighteenth of Schopenhauer's stratagems.

See also

Distraction principle

 

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