Devil’s Advocate: Defending Controversial Issues

I have noticed within the past few years that many, if not all of us, tend to shy away from controversial topics. As a speaker and debater, it has been a natural thing to attack controversial issues. One reason I like to hit those topics that we find so difficult is because they are among the hardest arguments to defend.

So it occurred to me, why is it that we are so afraid of these issues? It is because we have an innate fear of defending something inadequately. What I mean is that we do not want to be someone who belligerently attacks an issue then becomes the motley fool when we fail to defend our position.

That is why I am going to give you three quick tips to help you walk into that difficult conversation with confidence. Remember, this is a general overview. If you would like me to go into specific topics to give some more fodder to your arguments, comment and tell me what you want! I am a researcher and would love to do more “Devil’s Advocate” topics.

Know Your Info


This is huge. Many of us, because we avoid difficult issues, we often fail to take the time to even understand what it is we believe. Take the time to look up information on the web, but definitely avoid wikipedia! (Know that wikipedia is almost never credible and anyone can change the facts). Instead, look up information the old fashioned way. If you are Christian, I would encourage you to find a book that discusses your issue from a Christian standpoint. If not, always refer to Encyclopedias, and look up a book written by someone you already know is credible. 


Some more, quick and easy ways to accomplish this (because who has the time to search for hours?) :

-Glance on your phone on the internet when you are on the go.

-Find a book, but read it slowly, one chapter before you go to bed on Fridays or something similar.

-Ask people you know and trust about the topic

-Don’t go super detailed

You want to get a general knowledge before you attempt to wow anyone with your awesome conversational skills.

KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid!


This is one of my coach’s favorite sayings. Remember, it is never your job to be the expert in the room. The only thing you really need to do in a conversation about difficult issues is put your argument on the floor. If the person you are talking to dislikes confrontation, (which is more people than we will ever know) the best way to get them to even listen to what you have to say is to give them one point. No more. Make it clear and have some knowledge about where it came from, but try not to scare anyone.

Some tips on how to do this:

-Be very open to the other person’s point of view.

-Only make one point, but make sure you have backup for that claim.

-Don’t freak out if the other person gets abrasive, you are the calm one always.

-Let your voice be heard! You have just as much of a right to an opinion as everyone else!

-Know your point ahead of time.

Play Offense, Not Defense


Whenever you are talking, ask questions about the other side’s point of view. Use this question: Why do you say that? Make the other person in the conversation defend their view. Don’t let yourself be caught in the trap of being the only defender. If someone makes a claim, ask them to back it up. An assertion without evidence is not an argument, it’s the number one sign of faulty reasoning. 

Some ways to play to the offense:

-Ask questions, don’t let yourself do all the talking.

-Make the other person back up what they are saying, if they can’t, you have shown both them and yourself that there is a better point.

-State your argument and let the other person attack it, but don’t let yourself be barraged!

Remember that many who become aggressive about controversial topics really have no ground. They function off emotion and rage rather than logic. Show them that the logic is on your side and you are much more persuasive.

I hope this is helpful. Let me know and I will write on specific topics, and the difficulties we face when holding a conversation.

Be blessed today!



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