Gerry Spence – How To Argue And Win Every Time Book Review

(St. Martin’s Press, N.Y. 1995) A New York Times best seller, translated and sold in twenty-three foreign countries. This book has become a bedside guide for every day living. Still it has become a text for law schools and universities. “How to Argue and Win Every Time is more than just a book about argument; it’s the outline on how to live.” -Larry King

How to Argue and Win Every Time is a book that teaches you how to argue in everyday life—at home, in the bedroom, with the boss, with teachers, and with your kids. But it is also a book with sweeping implications for American society, for at its heart, it proposes a new philosophy—that winning is not what you think it is and that your enemy’s loss may be your loss as well.

Gerry Spence, the noted trial lawyer, says we were born to make the winning argument as we were born to walk. But argument is an art as well as a technique to be learned. The winning argument starts with a mindset, one that gives you permission to argue freely when argument has been the forbidden fruit of your childhood. Spence teaches you how to get beyond the fear and to use this fear as your ally. He shows you that when your argument emerges from your own authority, the argument will not only be the winning argument, it will be unique among all arguments.

But delivering the winning argument demands polished technique. With his surefire program Spence instructs readers in the rules of the game and provides the tools needed to achieve successful results. To win, says Spence:

  • Disarm an opponent by listening to the other side of the argument
  • Realize that words are often weapons of combat
  • Decide when to argue and when not to argue
  • Embrace the soul and argue out of the heart zone
  • Unlock the internal prisoner that prevents you from achieving victory

The Good Bits

The book helps people who need a bit of a push in the right direction. It’s motivational, it’s filled with examples and has some wisdom to spread from the mouth of a person who had a rich life in and out of a courtroom. This book isn’t about arguing as much as it’s about communicating. Mr. Spence useds the word ‘argument’ in the context that everything we articulate- whether it’s a desire to teach , punish, express wants or state an opinion- is essentially an argument.

I particularly found the chapter on arguing with kids quite useful. I used to be quite authoritarian and rule oriented when it comes to child rearing and this little chapter taught me that kids will grow into responsible loving adults without being constantly hovered over and corralled into so called ‘correct behavior’.

The Bad Bits

It took me three chapters to realize I was in for a bore of a book. It might be suited to law students or people who are severely lacking in some self-esteem. And he talks about non-related matters a lot (like his wife). I wasn’t the only one to notice either!


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