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Saturday, May 16, 2015

Do You Have an Opinion or a Persuasive Argument?

What makes the difference between an opinion and a persuasive argument? People love their opinions, but are based on thoughts, feelings, and wishes of the individual and don’t always have validity. It doesn’t matter if one is in college, a seasoned manager or running for political office, creating a persuasive argument leads to credibility. Their emotions may drive people, but it is their logic that makes them worthy of your ear.

Persuasive arguments are reinforced by substantial information that is reasonable and logical in its construction of the conclusion. The average person can see the argument as reasonable based on shared knowledge. They can follow the information and make the same conclusion as the speaker.

Opinions based on emotions and quick judgments often lack enough supportive information to be worthy of attention. They can use emotions to draw a crowd into a frenzy but lose their appeal once people start to question the logic. Over time, the emotional appeal fades the speaker's credibility suffers.

A problem with not evaluating what others are saying is that most people simply regurgitate the opinions of others within their social networks or people with authority without critical thought. This leads  to the spreading of false information among a broad group of persons.  They didn't look into the details of the information or whether or not it is true before spreading it.

The inability to truly think about issues and come to an independent conclusion is based in mental laziness and lack of self-confidence. We can see that destructive nature at work on the path to war, bullying behavior, or any other situation where emotions are stirred, but critical thinking is missing. Those who are least likely to think about issues or stand up for their beliefs are open to manipulation.

Leaders who want to create credibility and develop a justifiable argument should state their main proposition and then support that proposition with reliable information. Their argument should have enough supporting facts to justify that position and lead to a reasonable conclusion. Well thought-out arguments gain more support than flimsy opinions.

The justification for arguments should be from credible sources that have facts to support their claims. For example, a generic search for a term on the Internet will return lots of opinions but it is up to the reader to seek out credible information to formulate their  opinions. Perusing government websites, research, studies, polls, and industry knowledge is better than relying on the abundance of unsubstantiated fluff on the web.

The ability to see logical holes in other’s arguments allows for a more critical view of presented information. People are always seeking adherents to their cause and regularly manipulate information to justify their main points. Being able to question that information and where that information comes from makes a big difference in creating persuasive arguments.

It has been said that no one truly owns themselves until they can create an independent opinion. That opinion should be based in fact, information, experience, logic, and knowledge versus social considerations. Stating the main points and supporting those points with factual information is likely to raise credibility and differentiate a substantiated argument from unsubstantiated opinion. When people speak with  knowledge, they can gain long term followers to their cause.

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