Seven killer techniques for winning arguments, landing sales, and getting what you want.

Updated to Habits on December 19, 2022.

Sometimes you don’t get what you want because…wait for it…

you don’t ask.

It could be asking for the next sale.

Getting your boss, husband, wife, child, or pet iguana to understand you.

Or just getting Gerry in Engineering to cover for you in a meeting.

Knowing how to get what what you want is an art most of us never learned. I grew up with parents where one person asked and the other person did. I didn’t learn much about negotiation, arguing, or collaboration there.

Then I got jobs. Again, one person asked, the other (usually me) did. No great lessons there either.

Then I got married to a high school debate queen. 

Lots of lessons there.


You are about to discover seven killer techniques for winning more arguments, landing more sales, and getting what you want. But, keep in mind these are only techniques. For these to work, you have to first believe: 1) you deserve what you are asking for and 2) you are good enough at asking. Confidence plays a big part in your success – that comes from practice. (read about being more confident in my blog post here.)

1. ASK TO GET. This is the building block: you need to ask more and tell/argue/whine/snivel/shout less. When you ask, three great things happen:

  • you appeal to the other person (people like to talk about their needs)
  • you learn what they need (it’s hard to learn much when you do all the talking)
  • you direct the conversation.

Your listening mind can process words at least four times faster than they can talk. So, while they are busy answering, you have a huge advantage.

2. SILENCE SELLS. Think of any great orators in history (Churchill, Clinton, King, Jobs, Dumbledore) they all paused after an important statement. Once you state your case (“When I heard that had happened, I was very concerned.”), use silence to say this is important. Even ten seconds will feel like glacier melt, but it works. Silence sells.

3. AND ADDS. Read this sentence: 

“Barbara I really enjoy working with you on the team, but I want to talk about…” Can you picture black clouds moving in? 

Now I’ll change ‘but’ to ‘and’. “Barbara I really enjoy working with you on the team, and I want to talk about…” Feels better? 

That’s because “but” is a verbal eraser, “and” adds

4. SHARE IMPACT, NOT BLAME. It’s easy to make people defensive. Blame them. 

It sounds like this: “I got an email from our client this morning complaining about our delay. It sounds like you forgot to warn them.” Psychologists in over-stuffed leather chairs would call that a passive, aggressive attack – not a good start.

Instead, share how YOU were impacted. It sounds like this: “I got an email from our client this morning complaining about our delay and I felt really frustrated.”Now you have their attention, but not their defensiveness. 

5. AGREE GETS AGREEMENT. Watch any movie that involves a courtroom battle and you’ll see lawyers agreeing with small points and tackling big ones. When you agree with points the other person made, you earn points. The more you agree with small points, the closer you get to agreeing on big ones.

6. DOUBLE CLICKING DIRECTS. Hat tip to bud Matt MacEachern for this one. Just like searching Google, when you find something of interest, double click to learn more. Do that in negotiations. It sounds like this: “That’s interesting: you just mentioned the schedule. Tell me more how that’s working for you.” The trick with Double Clicking is to only choose one thing they said that seems to have merit and ignore all the rest. 

Every time you Double Click, you drive the negotiation where you want it to go. Meanwhile, they’re happily talking about themselves and answering your questions.

7. AGREE TO DISAGREE. Sometimes, you are either both right, or it’s not worth fighting. When you agree to disagree you also agree to work together and not hide in your corner waiting for the next round. I want to have friends over more often for dinner, my wife sees it as a lot of work. Happy wife means happy life, so I’m cool getting my social needs met in other ways.

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This list has won me sales, resolved hot topics at home, and smoothed the waters at my office. Over and over again. They are the tools in my toolbox of communication skills I wouldn’t leave home without.

What I want to know is which ones will you use more often? Tell me in the comments below – I want to know.