The Gentle Art of Persuasion by Chester Porter QC. Hardcover book published by Random House 2005, 235 pages.
“Much of life is spent in arguing, domestically, at work, professionally, or it just happens that way. Most arguments are futile wastes of time. Neither the participants nor the audience learn anything. Between men in crowded pubs arguments can even lead to physical fights, usually for no purpose. Yet intelligent argument is often the only sensible way to advance our many causes, to spread knowledge and to achieve progress. It is one thing to sound impressive, to devastate the opposition, to make a great impression. It is by no means the same thing to change people's minds, to convince them by your arguments. Persuasion is achieved more often than not by quiet, rather than devastating argument. Learn from someone who knows how to get his point across in the most effective, and charming, way.”
I've had a few arguments in my time and yes I agree with Chester that in retrospect most of them have been futile wastes of efforts. Time and time again I get to the end of these active 'discussions' and realise i've just wasted another X amount of time to no purpose at all... Sometimes though, the point is that there has been a discussion. I don't want to agree with everyone else on politics, religion, the state of the world etc. I wouldn't be me if I did. But sometimes it's interesting to get another perspective... that is if there is another perspective!
Chester Porter is obviously acquainted with the art of persuasion having worked in the legal profession for most of his working life. Apparently he was known as the 'The Smiling Funnelweb' which would have been enough to scare the shit out of anyone who would have come up against him in court. I don't know how gentle funnelweb spiders are but for some reason I think they are not very open to quiet discussion, but more of a 'devastating argument' type of spider... which sort of gives a different meaning to the sentence,
Learn from someone who knows how to get his point across in the most effective, and charming, way.
I like this book and can see the benefits for many people, including myself, in being able to gently persuade as apposed to heatedly argue. Now all I need is to find people wanting to be persuaded.