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Seeing the Other Side

Students sometimes have difficulty with persuasive writing.  I think that is because students don’t practice persuasion in their daily lives.  They ask and are told no, or they whine.  That’s about it.  A student skilled in the art of persuasion, however, can be refused nothing! (Don’t hold me to that…)

Before you can see the other side of the argument, you need to fully understand your own side.  Brainstorm a list of reasons that support your argument.  Put down all your ideas, even the ones you know aren’t going to work!  One strategy to use for thinking of arguments is the EITHER OR list.  EITHER OR is an acronym to help you remember kinds of persuasive arguments.  Try to think of an example for each of the listed strategies.

Once you’ve done that, you are ready to think about the other side.  Really strong persuasive arguments always counter the other side.  That means you know what objections the person you are trying to persuade will have, and you know how to cancel their argument.  For example, let’s say you are trying to convince your teacher to give less homework.   You’ve got some good ideas, but you know your teacher will say you need to practice what you learn in class every day.  To persuade her, maybe you say homework allows less time to sleep and you need your rest in order to be alert in class.  Check out “Homework” for a student example that ALMOST convinced me to eliminate homework for my class for a week.

Remember that the person you are trying to convince already has an opinion that is different than yours.  If you are going to convince them, you need to lessen their concerns about your idea.

So let’s say you want to convince your parents to give you a bigger allowance.  Coming up with the reasons why you want it is easy.  What will your parents’ objectons be?  Maybe they will say they don’t have the money, or they got that much when they were your age, or you don’t earn that much.  How can you weaken their arguments?  Maybe you offer to use your allowance to buy some of the things your parents buy now, or you convince them that kids have more expenses nowadays, or you promise to do more chores.  THEN they will listen to you!

You try it!  What is one thing you feel strongly about?  Share your  biggest reason why you want it.  Now tell me what the biggest opposition is.  How can you counter that argument?

On my Kindle:  The Fire Within by Chris D’Lacey

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