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How to Win an Argument -
Active Listening


Podcast Series Episode

Episode Transcript

Welcome to another episode of “The Rabbi Who Got Rich on Sunday”. I’m Rabbi Dave and

Today we’re going to talk about “How to Win an Argument – Active Listening.”

This is the fourth episode in our four-part mini series called “Business Relationships – Hiring, Firing and Working with Business Partners”.

In the transcription of this podcast, you’ll see the link to my website where you can see more resources as well as previous episodes of my podcast.

How to win an argument story

In a European town,  two mothers of eligible young ladies waited for the daily train to come in from the big city.  

When it arrived, a handsome young man stepped off the train with one small suitcase. 

 Instantly both mothers rushed off to the young man.  

The first one to arrive grabbed his arm and said, “I want to introduce you to my daughter to marry her”.  

The second one grabbed his other arm and said, “No, I want to introduce you to my daughter”.

Not knowing what else to do, they brought the young man to the wise old Rabbi.

The mothers  presented their arguments.  

One said, “I got to him first”

  The other said, “I saw him first”

The Rabbi decided to take the ancient approach of wise King Solomon and said that the simplest answer was to split him in half and each daughter would get half a husband.

The first mother said, “No, we can’t split him in half!”  

The second mother said, “Yes that’s a great idea”

The Rabbi then pointed to the second mother with a huge smile and said, “Mazal Tov, that’s the real mother-in-law” and the handsome young man fainted on the spot.

Unlike this story, a well executed argument with active listening will leave both sides feeling that they were heard and understood with no one being torn in half.

How to argue

In the bustling world of successful negotiations and effective conference room management, the skill of “How to win an argument” takes center stage. 

Drawing inspiration from the age-old Talmudic discussions of Hillel and Shamai, we embark on a journey to uncover the secrets of having an argument properly – transforming disagreements into opportunities for growth and understanding through active listening.

Active listening – The Wisdom of Hillel and Shamai

In the annals of Jewish wisdom, the disagreements between the schools of Hillel and Shamai provide a blueprint for how to win an argument productively. 

Shamai’s disciples were known for stating their opinions outright, a practice common in many contentious debates. 

On the other hand, Hillel’s followers exhibited a more nuanced approach. 

They would first repeat back Shamai’s students’ opinions before expressing their own.  

Because of active listening – listen first, repeat to show they understood, and then give their opinion the students of Hillel won almost every disagreement.

 We follow their decisions in deciding Jewish law thousands of years later.

Listening – with intention

At the heart of effective argumentation lies the art of active listening. 

In the business world, where successful negotiation is crucial, the ability to understand and acknowledge differing opinions is a valuable asset. 

Take a page from Hillel’s playbook and repeat back the viewpoints of your colleagues during a meeting. 

This not only demonstrates your attentiveness but also dissipates ill will, making your colleagues feel respected and understood and paving the way for a more receptive audience.

Empathetic listening – Love with your right hand, push back with your left

Quite often in business deals and negotiations temperatures can run high.  How do you calm down the situation so a productive win-win deal can be the outcome?

When someone’s guard is up they won’t be capable of hearing your message no matter how good it is.

When you repeat back to your “adversary” their exact argument and make sure they agree that you understand their point, they will instantly calm down and be ready to hear yours.

In the realm of successful negotiation, balancing assertiveness and empathy is key. Adopt the metaphor of loving with your right hand (in this example meaning your strong hand) and pushing back with your left. 

Begin by expressing genuine care and understanding for your colleagues’ perspectives with your right hand, creating an environment of mutual respect. 

Once you’ve established this foundation, introduce your own opinions and arguments with your left hand, seamlessly blending assertiveness with empathy.


Listening practice – The power of repetition

An axiom in any meeting is to be brief and not waste time.  

You may think therefore that repetition has no place. 

Repetition, as employed by Hillel’s students, is a potent tool.

Don’t only repeat your colleagues’ opinions and verify that you understand them during a heated argument. But, do so at every opportunity and you will build an amazing culture of teamwork and respect that will lead to great success. 

When engaged in any discussion, take a moment to repeat your teammate’s viewpoint, ensuring that they feel heard and respected. 

This not only fosters a sense of connection in business but will do miracles for your interpersonal relationships with friends and family as well.

In the fast-paced world of business negotiation, successful management requires mastering the art of how to win an argument properly. 

Learn how to argue effectively and productively by incorporating the wisdom of Hillel and Shamai. 

Elevate your business meetings by actively listening, repeating others’ opinions, and demonstrating empathy. 

Remember, love with your right hand, push back with your left, and create an atmosphere where diverse opinions can coexist harmoniously.

May we all learn to embrace the ancient wisdom of Hillel and Shamai to enrich our modern lives. 

The next time you find yourself in a debate, approach it with the intention of understanding before being understood. 

By weaving the principles of active listening, repetition, and balanced assertiveness into your arguments, you’ll not only navigate successful business meetings, but also foster an environment conducive to growth, collaboration, and understanding.

You now know how to win an argument using active listening!

Next week I will share my secrets on how to advertise for successful employees in a special bonus addition to this mini series on “Business Relationships – Hiring, Firing and Working with Business Partners”.

For more guidance and tips on how to live your dream life, go to my website, to access content-rich articles and more.

You can also access a link to that web page through the show notes, if you are listening to this podcast on any of the popular podcast platforms.




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