How to Argue and Win Every Time – So says *this guy*!

And *this guy* knows a thing or two!

“He has never lost a criminal case either as a prosecutor or a defense attorney. He has not lost a civil case since 1969.He has had more multi-million dollar verdicts without an intervening loss than any lawyer in America.” (taken from

Okay. Well, then. You might be correct, Mr. Gerry Spence.

Also, as an aside, you gotta give him props for knowing his worth! Is he *actually* the greatest? You know what? Maybe. Probably.

He looks familiar, I thought as I looked at the book cover. Where have I seen him, I wonder? A little research tells me that I remember him from a few places… the case of Philippine First Lady Imelda Marcos, for one. But my guess is that I remember him most from The OJ Simpson murder trial. He was a legal commentator for NBC TV and guest-hosted on Larry King Live. That sounds about right. Yes, I remember him!

Anyway, this book… How to Argue and Win Every Time. Sounds pretty lofty, doesn’t it? Every time? I mean, really!? But we shall see.

Let me begin by saying that Spence seems like an enlightened soul. Consider these quotes from the book:

“There are innumerable ways to murder a person, but the most subtle and pernicious of these is to mutilate the soul of the innocent by denying or downgrading their uniqueness and their beauty.” ― Gerry Spence

“I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief.”  ― Gerry Spence

I mean, seriously, these thoughts could be right out of a self-help book! But here’s the thing about that…

The entire premise for this book is woven around some ideals… the first two are to:

  • Develop empathy
  • See the opposition as fellow humans traveling this road with us

The rest are a little less about being compassionate and a little more about being savvy:

  • Use fear as an ally
  • Develop credibility
  • Learn when to argue

I was especially interested to learn about when to argue. I’m reminded of an incident at work… oh, ten years or so ago…

My husband and I worked in the same office and shared a car, which was heavenly on the pocketbook. Not all couples can do this for many reasons, but for us it worked well.

Then he was moved to a satellite office. It was beyond the office where I still worked, so he dropped me off and went on to work, then picked me up afterward and we went home.

Then I was moved to a different satellite office in the complete opposite direction of my husband’s office. “I can’t, I can’t!” I said. We’d have to get up two hours earlier, get me to my office long before the office opened, so he could get to his office on time. He’d need to drive way across hell-and-gone to get to his office, passing our house and our home office both ways. Clearly, this was not going to work.

So, I said I couldn’t go. They said I had to. I asked how I was supposed to do that, since I had no car. They knew that when they hired me, I reasoned out loud. They said times change, I had to go. I said I couldn’t. They disagreed. Back and forth we went for  – no kidding – three days. I remember standing in front of my manager and our director… my voice shaking… near tears… and I finally said, so, you’re willing to lose me over this? This is your hill to die on? They said they didn’t want to lose me, but… I had to find a way.

I called HR. They said nobody could “make me” do anything. If I wanted to take it further, I could, but in the end, it would come down to two choices: 1. I would say no, I wouldn’t go, which equalled resigning. Or 2. They would say, yes, you will go and if you don’t, you’re fired.

Either way, I was screwed. Or not, depending on how you feel about working and making a paycheck. You know what I mean.

In the end, we had to buy a second car.

Things were never the same after that. I felt misunderstood, hurt and angry. And I dragged the argument on with personal crap that manifested in tears, which is never a good idea where you work. I was employed there for an additional four years, and while I was an award-winning salesperson, I was never considered for further promotions. Well, once, but that’s another story. Point is, I had no idea how to argue and went about things all wrong.

That’s when a book like this would have been helpful. But I didn’t have it yet. Now I do… and I’d like to share the bones of the book with you… and like always, ask that you read the book for yourselves to get the finer points:

The Laws of Arguing According to Gerry Spence

1. Everyone is capable of making the winning argument.
2. Winning is getting what we want, which also means helping “others” get what they want.
3. Learn that words are a weapon, and can be used hostility in combat.
4. Know that there is always a “biological advantage” of delivering the TRUTH.
5. Assault is not argument.
6. Use fear as an ally in pubic speaking or in argument. Learn to convert its energy.
7. Let emotions show and don’t discourage passion.
8. Don’t be blinded by brilliance.
9. Learn to speak with the body. The body sometimes speaks more powerfully than words.
10. Know that the enemy is not the person with whom we are engaged in a failing argument, but the vision within ourselves.

This is a fantastic book with so much meat, you’ll need a steak knife. A big thumbs up from me!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.