We've all found ourselves in conversation and felt attacked like we started off talking about one thing and then the other person twisted our words and before we knew it, we lost our cool, lost respect in their eyes, and maybe even acted like a jerk.
Now, I don't normally do the same person twice in a row but this interview between Cathy Newman and Jordan Peterson was just too interesting of an opportunity to discuss how you can handle someone who uses subtle conversational tricks to bully you into looking dumb.
So in this video, you're gonna see firsthand some of the most common tricks that people might be using on you and you're also gonna learn how to reverse those so that you can walk out of a kind of aggressive situation having earned more respect than you had going in.
So first off, to stop a conversational bully, you have to realize what's going on before it's too late.
Now, typically, a person will reveal their aggressive attitude early on with their tone of voice and their word choice — kind of like this — .
but I wasn't specifically aiming this message at young men to begin with; it just kind of turned out that way but— And it's mostly, you admit, it's mostly men listening.
In this case, Cathy is indicating very clearly that she thinks Jordan has done something wrong.
Otherwise, why would she use the word “admit?” She makes her stance clear a moment later when she implies that he should be bothered for being divisive.
Does it bother you that your audience is predominantly male? Is that a bit divisive? The point here is that even when they're being passive-aggressive, people will often indicate that they're about to attack you before they actually do.
So if you hear someone say something like, “Well, what do you have to say for yourself?” be prepared.
That person thinks that you've done something wrong and you need to be very careful what you say next not because you did do something wrong but because a conversational bully may be trying to trap you into saying something that you disagree with so that they can attack that straw man.
And the first way that this often happens is called the “so-you're-saying trap.
” Here's what it looks like.
So you're saying women have some sort of duty to sort of help fix the crisis of masculinity? Women want to dominate — is that what you're saying? So you're saying that anyone who believes in equality whether you call them feminists or whatever you want to call them should basically give up because “it ain't gonna happen.
” Let me just get this straight; you're saying that we should organize our societies along the lines of the lobsters.
The general pattern here is that someone says, “So you're saying.
” and then proceeds to oversimplify or mischaracterize what you actually said.
I won't spend too long here because it's very easy to spot and it's rather simple to avoid and get around by saying, “Well, actually, what I was saying is.
” and then repeat yourself.
along the lines of the lobsters.
I'm saying that it's inevitable that there will be continuity in the way that animals and human beings organize their structures.
But there's a much sneakier way that people may mischaracterize your beliefs and then attack them.
Basically, it's when someone's words imply that you believe something you don't and they don't actually say it.
So in business, they call this “assuming the sale” like when a car salesman says, “So would you like that with the leather interior or with the fabric interior?” before you even decided to buy the car.
Now, with the several thousand dollar purchase, you're likely to notice this and say, “Whoa, whoa, whoa.
Who said I was buying in the first place?” But it's very likely that this is happening to you in conversation all the time and you don't even notice.
Here's how it might look.
[Cathy talks over Jordan] Yeah, but why? Why should woman put up with those reasons? Embedding the question “why should women put up with it?” are several important presuppositions; namely — one, that there is something to put up with and two, that Jordan thinks woman should put up with it.
Now, the trap here for Jordan would be to answer Cathy's question directly and many of us fall into it in similar situations then we start arguing for things that we don't even really believe just out of habit.
Instead, you need to identify that hidden presupposition and then call it out.
So watch how carefully Jordan listens to Cathy's questions so that he can catch what she's not saying.
“Why should women put up with it?” I'm not saying they should put up with it.
I'm saying that the claim— Here's another example of assuming-the-sale from later in that conversation.
See if you can spot the hidden presupposition and ask yourself what you might say to respond to it.
which women do a lot of.
But why shouldn't women have the right to choose not to have children? So what's the hidden presupposition — that Jordan thinks women must have children.
And of course, he defends a woman's right to make any decision about that.
the right to choose and demand it, correct? They do.
Yeah, that's fine.
But you're saying that makes them unhappy.
Here's one more example.
See if you can spot the hidden presupposition here.
[Cathy talks over Jordan] So you want to say to your followers now, “Quit the abuse.
Quit the anger.
” Did you catch it? The presupposition is that Jordan's followers are abusing people.
Now, he can't answer that question directly; he has to address that hidden point first and he does.
Well, we'd need some substantial examples of the abuse and the anger before I could detail that question.
There's a lot of it out there.
When I cut the clips like this, it makes it very easy to see these hidden presuppositions but in real time, this can be difficult.
One simple thing that you can do to make it easier on yourself is to purposely assume a relaxed posture as Jordan does throughout this entire conversation.
Now, this posture actually helps you to think less frantically because your body is signalling to your brain that everything is okay; you're in control.
You'll also want to give yourself some time to pause after each question which Jordan definitely does.
In addition, you're going to want to study up on frames and frame games because there's a clearly a whole level of conversation that is going on behind the words.
Now, I've talked about this in other videos specifically the one on Tyrion Lanister from Game of Thrones and I'll leave a link to that in the description if you want to check it out.
Moving along though, the last clip contains a small example of the third conversational bully tactic in this video which I'm naming the “smash technique.
” Take a look.
[Cathy talks over Jordan] So you want to say to your followers now, “Quit the abuse.
Quit the anger.
” It's subtle here but Cathy smashes together two very different terms — abuse and anger.
Now, by ending on anger, it would be easier for Jordan to just forget it and answer the question.
But that would tacitly accept that his followers were abusing people.
That's why the smash technique is so frustrating; people are embedding hidden statements that you actually disagree with and then moving through them before you have the time to voice that disagreement.
You may also have seen people barrage you with questions just to overwhelm you into having to accept their points like this — .
otherwise, why would that only be seven women running FTSE 100 companies in the UK? Why would there still be a pay gap.
[Jordan talks over Cathy] Why are women at the BBC saying that they're getting paid illegally less than men— It can be easy to get overwhelmed and to lose focus as you try to answer all of these questions but with the smash technique in general, the best policy is to slow down the tempo of conversation and tackle one question or one point at a time.
Let's just go to the first question; those both are complicated questions.
So hopefully, now you're more aware of the so-you're-saying trap when people “assume the sale” and of course, the smash technique.
This moves us to the second section of this video which is how to persuade someone in these kinds of situations.
And I will say, it seems to me that it doesn't look like Jordan is necessarily trying to change Cathy's mind but simply to debate in front of an audience.
There are still some valuable tips to be gleamed from this video and a few things that I'd add First, do not straw man the other person's ideas even if they're doing it to you.
And to be clear, I don't know if I mentioned this, straw manning is when you create a caricature of their ideas and then attack those rather than what they truly believe.
Instead, show the other person that you are truly engaging in their real points, attempt to understand them, and sometimes this mean that you have to ask them to repeat themselves so that you can.
Seven? Seven women.
repeat that one— Seven women running the top FTSE 100 companies in the UK.
Well, the first question might be.
After you've made an honest attempt to understand them, you need to make sure that they can understand you which is necessary for persuasion.
And to do that, you often have to use the visual imagery.
For instance, here's a very abstract point without any images that Jordan makes.
that it's inevitable that there will be continuity in the way that animals and human beings organize their structures.
It's absolutely inevitable.
And there is one-third of a billion years of evolutionary history behind that.
Now, maybe you can understand that but it kind of lacks any emotional oomph.
But notice how the addition of a concrete example makes that one-third of a billion years just feel different.
That's so long that a third of a billion years ago, there weren't even trees; it's a long time.
So adding concrete examples especially ones that people can easily imagine is a smart persuasive move and lastly, when you're arguing, oftentimes the best way to get someone to change their position is not by changing their mind but by gently showing them that they are already agreeing with you.
I talked about this in the frame video but here's an example from this interview.
Why should your rights to freedom of speech trump a trans-person's right not to be offended? Because in order to be able to think, you have to risk being offensive.
I mean, look at the conversation we're having right now.
You know, like, you're certainly willing to risk offending me in the pursuit of truth.
Why should you have the right to do that? It's been rather uncomfortable.
This is huge.
Jordan is no longer arguing that her point is wrong; he's arguing that she already agrees with him — her behavior and her previous statements demonstrate that she cares more about free speech than not offending people.
And then Jordan doesn't try to make this point wrong; he shows her how they're actually very much in alignment.
You're doing what you should do which is digging a bit to see what the hell's going on.
And I gave you what you should do but you're exercising your freedom of speech to certainly risk offending me.
And that's fine.
I think — more power to you as far as I'm concerned.
And then of course Cathy feels stumped because she does actually agree with Jordan and she's proven it herself.
People have a strong desire to remain consistent with things they've already said and done so oftentimes, this becomes one of the few ways to persuade someone who's really dug in their heels.
You're basically showing them that they don't have to move in order to agree with you; they already do right where they're dug in.
And then of course, Jordan hits her with the “gotcha.
[sighs] I'm just trying to work that out but I mean.
[sighs] Jordan: Hah.
Cathy: You have got me.
You have got me.
Even though I laughed at that phrase at the time I was watching the interview, I have to say that last bit “gotcha” does not improve Jordan's persuasive case.
It actually makes Cathy feel silly and wrong as opposed to happy to discover that she and Jordan are really on the same team all along and if I had to give one last point of constructive criticism, it would be that Jordan answered all of Cathy's questions rather than trying to proactively address her deeper unstated emotional concern.
And in my opinion, that emotional concern is that Jordan is her enemy — that if he believes something, it must be against her interests.
If Jordan could have found that and pointed to a more common ground that they share which we all of course have, I don't think the interview would have continued in such an argumentative fashion but Jordan's role isn't necessarily to convince Cathy Newman of anything — it's to debate for an audience and to promote his book which I think he did at an A+ level.
If you think that I missed something or you just want to discuss, leave a comment below.
I'm actually to be checking periodically but I will be most active in the comments for that first hour after the video goes live which is now 2 p.
Eastern on Mondays so hit subscribe and hit the notification bell to make sure that you're notified when I am here and chatting.
That way you can hop on if you want to discuss anything with me or if you have a question that you'd like to ask.
I also think that this video makes a very strong companion for both the Tyrion video that I mentioned about frames which are super interesting and the previous Jordan Peterson video which will teach you how to get respect without being a bully so click the screen if you want to check either of those out.
Hopefully, you guys enjoyed this video and I will see you in the next one.