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How do you argue with someone who thinks they are always right?

Arguing with someone who believes they are infallible can be extremely frustrating. When someone is convinced of their own correctness, they are unlikely to be open to hearing opposing viewpoints. However, there are some techniques you can use to have a more productive dialogue with a stubborn debater.

Understand Their Perspective

The first step is to try to understand where the other person is coming from. Recognize that their steadfast stance likely stems from deep personal values or past experiences that shape their worldview. Make an effort to listen openly as they explain their reasoning, without immediately rebutting their points. Pay attention to the underlying emotions and beliefs driving their opinions. This will provide insight into how to connect with them in a meaningful way.

Ask Thoughtful Questions

Rather than directly contradicting their views, ask thoughtful questions to encourage deeper reflection. You could say, “What makes you feel so strongly about this?” or “How did you come to hold this belief?” Their answers will reveal if there are any gaps, inconsistencies, or nuances in their perspective that you can gently highlight.

Find Common Ground

Look for any common values, interests, or goals you share with the other person. Emphasize those areas of overlap and mutual understanding. For example, you might say, “It seems like we both care deeply about freedom of speech. Let’s start there and see if we can build some agreement.” Appealing to shared principles creates connection and goodwill.

Present Information Tactfully

If there are facts, statistics, or expert opinions that contradict the other person’s viewpoint, introduce them carefully. Say, “I came across some research that made me rethink my assumptions on this issue. Would you be open to taking a look?” Present it as informative rather than combative. Offer to send links or resources so they can review the data on their own time, without feeling defensive or pressured.

Avoid Direct Attacks

Resist the temptation to use language that could come across as attacking the other person’s character, intelligence, or morals. That will usually trigger more stubborn entrenchment in their position. Even if you feel they are being illogical or unethical, stick to discussing the reasoning itself rather than making it personal.

Acknowledge Valid Points

If they make arguments that have some validity, acknowledge those points. Saying, “You make a fair point regarding…” demonstrates that you are genuinely considering their perspective and not dismissing it outright. This helps diffuse defensiveness and encourages reciprocal openness.

Ask For Alternative Solutions

Propose looking for creative solutions that might incorporate or bridge your differing viewpoints. You could say, “We seem to be coming at this issue from different angles. I’m wondering if there are any new approaches we haven’t considered yet.” Then collaborate to brainstorm possibilities and compromises that address both of your core concerns.

Appeal to Their Values

Link your own arguments to the deeper values that motivate the other person. For instance, if you know they highly prize justice, emphasize how your position aligns with that principle. Helping them recognize that your viewpoint supports their deeply-held ideals can be persuasive.

Set A Positive Tone

Maintain a constructive, friendly tone even when disagreements arise. The spirit and intention behind your words is just as important as the logic. An attitude of genuine curiosity, openness and goodwill is more likely to inspire reflection and flexibility.

Know When to Walk Away

If productive dialogue seems impossible, it may be best to walk away from the argument, at least temporarily. Continuing to hit your head against a brick wall is unlikely to yield different results. Give the other person space to mull things over. Be willing to re-engage in the future if they show any openness to reconsidering their stance.

Don’t Take It Personally

Remember that the other person’s stubborn refusal to budge likely stems from their own biases and insecurities, not something you did wrong. Don’t take their dig-in-their-heels attitude personally. Maintain compassion for where they are coming from while standing firm in your own reasoned position.

When to Compromise

On trivial matters, it may be best to simply compromise to preserve the relationship, even if you still believe yourself to be right. With closer loved ones, being flexible on smaller disagreements can help create goodwill and mutual understanding.


Arguing with someone convinced of their own infallibility requires patience, active listening, and strategic persuasion based on common values and interests. Avoid escalating tensions with combative language. If no progress seems possible, politely agree to disagree and revisit the issue another time. With an open, constructive approach that appeals to shared principles, even the most stubborn debater may gradually become more receptive.

Technique Example Benefit
Understand their perspective “Help me understand where you’re coming from on this issue.” Builds empathy and insight into their viewpoint
Ask thoughtful questions “What led you to form this opinion?” Encourages deeper reflection
Find common ground “It seems we both value freedom. Let’s start there.” Creates connection and goodwill
Acknowledge valid points “You make a fair point about…” Shows you are considering their perspective
Present information tactfully “I came across some data that contradicts my assumptions.” Avoids triggering defensiveness

Here are some key techniques for having a more productive dialogue when arguing with someone convinced of their own infallibility, along with examples and benefits of each approach.

When to Walk Away

Here are some signs it may be best to temporarily disengage from an unproductive argument with a stubborn person:

  • They become angry, hostile or insulting
  • They refuse to listen to any opposing viewpoints
  • They dismiss factual information that contradicts their beliefs
  • They repeat the same arguments without engaging with your points
  • You find yourself becoming extremely frustrated or upset

Walking away can give both parties time and space to reflect. However, be open to re-engaging in a spirit of patience and compromise in the future.

Maintaining Relationships

When disagreeing with loved ones who believe they are always right, keep these tips in mind to maintain positive relationships:

  • Make the relationship itself the priority, not “winning” the argument
  • Listen more than you speak
  • Give them room to save face or change their mind
  • Suggest tabling heated discussions for another time
  • Compromise on smaller issues
  • Remain respectful even during disagreement

Preserving mutual understanding and harmony in important relationships should override the need to prove yourself right.


If you often find yourself embroiled in arguments, engage in some self-reflection:

  • Do I display some of the same stubbornness I complain about in others?
  • Do I listen well and consider opposing viewpoints?
  • Do I admit when I am wrong?
  • Am I open to changing my opinions based on new information?
  • Do I graciously agree to disagree when no resolution seems possible?

Honest self-analysis will make you a more thoughtful, empathetic communicator and take your arguments to a higher level, whether you are debating with others or your own inner critic.