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Bump Set Spike: 5 Steps That Will Turn You into a Master Debater

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Temple chapter.

Okay, so school’s out and you may be asking yourself why I’m writing this when we’re right on the eve of official summertime. Recently, I had a Facebook debate. Now, you must know about me that I was a part (albeit briefly) of the debate team in high school and I used to dream of a future as a lawyer. I was always the girl people didn’t want to get into an argument with because of my way with words and wit. Even if I was wrong, I’d still convince you I was right (or leave your head spinning with confusion). That’s not because I’m a genius by any means. It’s because I know how to play the game. To some, it’s natural. To others, it’s quite the challenge. If you find yourself at the receiving end of an ignorant statement this summer, you’ve got to know how to come back.
1).Don’t get into it if you don’t know what you’re talking about. This is one of my biggest pet peeves in life: when people speak on topics they know nothing about. You know you’re friend who tries to get all philosophical on you, ends up sounding stupid, and then goes postal on you when you call him/her out for it? That’s what you sound like. If you want to be a part of an efficient, intelligent debate, you must know the topic well.

2).State your main argument clearly. So obviously, you believe one thing and the person believes another. If they’re at all intelligent, they’ll be waiting for you to mess up so they can poke holes in your theory. You’ve got to make sure it’s as foolproof as possible. For example, my recent debate was over political structures and whether or not we should have government. The main
 buffoon I was arguing with (it was 3 against one) was so sure that government was evil, but could not tell me why. I, on the other hand, argued that while government is often plagued with corruption, there is no other effective way to create an efficient system. He tried to call me out on contradicting myself, but failed to point out how I contradicted myself. Thus, my argument was well said and we both knew it.

3).Always have accurate facts/statistics to back up your argument and don’t be afraid to throw in some credentials. This is when I realized in my debate that there was a clear winner. To me, their ideas were socialist and I alluded to specific Utopian societies that had tried similar methods and failed. When I asked my primary opponent what evidence he had that their ideas would work, he could not provide me with anymore than vague statements about the evils of currency and government. Furthermore, he began to insult me at this point. This part is key: when people have nothing more to say or refute, they either begin to speak over you to drown out your voice or they retort to insults. This is when credentials could possibly come in. But I’ll elaborate on this later.

4).Know the other side of the argument. Be aware of what the other person will argue before they argue it, so you know how to come back. In my case, I referred to the fact that I, too, had once been in a phase where I wanted world peace and for everyone to be equal and gather round the campfire singing the proverbial “Kumbaya” so I understood the appeal. I also was a conspiracy theorist who believed the government was this evil corporation and so on, but I had since learned. I continued to back it up with what I had since learned, and the flaws that they should see in their side. They, in turn, were completely taken aback by their inability to convince me and build a proper rebuttal (or use proper spelling and grammar, for that matter). Which leads me to my final point…

5).Always keep your cool. Referring back to what I said in point 3, people who have nothing intelligent to refute with often resort to yelling or insults. Do not be this person. And if the insult is something as uninspiring as “You’re just stupid” don’t be afraid to brag a little and throw your credentials in. “Hey, I study this stuff for a living.” “Well actually, if you followed current events as much as I do, maybe you’d know a thing or two about it yourself.” If it stings a little, so be it. One thing I will never allow is for my intelligence to be insulted, which it was. I had to then reply with wit and outsmart them. Once they called me uneducated and closed-minded (mind you, these people apparently did not make it past high school), I had to throw in some hard core facts about myself as well as call them out for their atrocious spelling and grammar which completely discredited their statements. Once I did that, their pride must have been so hurt, they resorted to calling me such names as an “African troll” (whatever that was in reference to). At this point, I simply laughed and took subtle digs at them using my weapon: wit. I kept it cool, even liking their comments. When someone is trying to piss you off or hurt you and they don’t get the reaction they wanted, it drives them insane. If you can be the one to take it all in stride, they’ll end up looking like complete idiots and sometimes you may not even need to go further. You’ve won.
This is not an official point, but I hope that your common sense would tell you this: you can’t argue with stupid. It’s a waste of time unless it’s just good leisurely fun for you. Otherwise, fools are not worth your time. As soon as you realize it, bow out gracefully. So if you should come upon a provocative conversation or statement and you want to have a little friendly tête-à-tête and walk out with your ego intact, use these tips, don’t forget to end strong, and go get ‘em, tiger. 

Jaimee Swift is a Senior majoring in Communications. One of her many dreams is to become a broadcast journalist and to meet and work with the infamous Anderson Cooper. Her hobbies include reading everything in sight, running, dancing crazily, laughing uber hard, watching movies, and consuming as much juice as possible. Jaimee is so overjoyed to be a part of such a magnificent site such as Her Campus Temple University. Ever since the days of her youth, she has strives to make a difference and bring positive change to all that she touches. She still holds on to that mindset and hopes to bring positivity and creativity to Her Campus Temple University!