The other day in one of my law school classes, I got to role-play being a judge. There were 6 of us “judges” and the rest of the class was split into two opposing teams whose job was to convince the judges that a law as written meant X (or, on the other side, not-X). The teams each presented their cases, then we judges asked questions.
One side presented a cogent, logical argument. They used the facts provided and stuck to them to make their argument. It was not a pleasant or popular position to have to take, but they advocated for their side. The other side argued that the statute “should mean X” and that to think otherwise would be bad for society and let bad guys get away.
The second group was passionate. However, they mostly ignored the facts at hand and, instead, tried to emotionally push the court to agree with them. When the judges asked them about specific facts that went against their side, they got snippy and rude and even sniped back. The first group, on the other hand, mostly stuck to the facts and, when something went against them, they copped to it, then pointed out something else which was more positive to their side.
It turns out that they made almost exactly the same arguments the real lawyers had in this real case–lawyers who won, even though the issue was incredibly unpopular. I think they were successful because they kept to the facts and didn’t let their emotions get the best of them.
The reason I share this is because sometimes we are in complex situations where it would be much easier to get overly emotional and try to push for what we think is “right.” Instead, we have to look at it rationally and dispassionately, like the first team did. It’s not popular, for example, to say that buyers have every right to try and get all the rights they can for as little money as possible. But the reality is, they do have that right and for many, that is their job. Rather than get angry about it, accept that the buyer is just doing her job and you stick to your “facts” (like that you license your work and value/price it appropriately).
You can’t force the “other side” to agree with you, but when you are calm and rational and respectful, you are much more likely to carry the day.