How can you educate others in an argument?

Two students in natures setting studying materials together

Have you been in an argument, dispute, and/or conflict and wanted to know what you could do differently? The collaboration effect based on neuroscience suggests that you need be authentic and find common values to have a connecting relationship, listen actively, and then educate judiciously the way the other party wants to be educated to enhance your potential for success. Blogs on connecting relationships and listening actively have been offered the last two weeks. This week the emphasis is on an update to educating judiciously.




In order to address these types of issues, you must first examine yourself and your own attitude. Instead of approaching the situation looking at the other party as an adversary, consider approaching the situation as an opportunity to learn, understand, and look for ways to work together. When you approach the situation in this way you will learn and be able to find ways to connect with the other party. You need to listen actively by finding common values, exploring interests, and gaining understanding. Then you will be able to begin to educate the other party the way they want to be educated. What does this mean?


Educating judiciously defined


Let’s start by looking at what each of these words means in this context from The Collaboration Effect.

Educate in this instance means:

understanding the interests of the other party and based on those interests, providing information that will either ease their pain or provide them with benefits (happiness) in a way they prefer to receive the information.

Judiciously can be taken from an expert witness in court to mean:

An expert witness that can provide the information in a way that is straightforward with honesty and integrity, with a professional, friendly, knowledgeable, open mannerism, that is transparent in nature, accepting of others and is technically knowledgeable and reliable will go a long way towards promoting trust.

Applying this in general also implies operating with the same characteristics.


Summary of initiating the process


Assuming you have exercised due care with being authentic and connecting with the other person then after listening to them (recommended 10 minutes or more) stop and ask yourself some questions. You have had a good opportunity to really see where the other party is coming from and why. Here are some questions to ask yourself before educating judiciously:

Is my attitude one of collaboration and will my focus be on helping? Then I am in the right place.

If I am assuming it is an adversarial game, I am in the wrong place. This is me versus you instead of us versus the problem.

How can we work together?

How can we address this problem together?

Do both sides care about the outcome. If one party does not care about the outcome, they are not interested in the outcome, maybe you should not waste your or their time.


Five steps towards educating and working together


First, adjust your attitude and thinking. Have an attitude to be gentle on the people and tough on the problem.

Second, explore interests and values. What are yours? What are theirs? What can we agree on at this point.

Third, explore your own strengths and weaknesses. Do you have the right people here?

Fourth, from what I have learned about the other party what is their learning style?  About 70% of the population are visual learners. How will I approach the other party to help them understand where I am coming from?

Fifth,  what model am I going to use to help educate the other party? Two models are being offered here. Both can work well when helping to educate the other party.


EDGE and How to Ask


You can learn from scouting. The boy scouts and girl scouts use the EDGE model. That is, they educate, demonstrate, guide, and enable. You may not be involved with anything physical, but the same concepts can be used. For example, this is your opportunity to educate them from your perspective. You need to know what you want, ask for it, and have three reasons why this is beneficial for them. This demonstrates why it is in their best interest too. For example, both sides want closure. Both sides want to do what is best from their perspective. Both sides want to address concerns for the various stakeholders. Then you want to guide them on how you can help them overcome barriers from their stakeholder’s perspective. Finally, you want to enable them to do the right thing, do what it takes, and in the end produce a solution that everyone at a minimum can live with, or in a best case scenario a win-win scenario.




Another alternative is to learn from mediation and mediators. Here the acronym is FIFI. That is facts, issues, feelings, and interests. The questions to be asked are:

What are the Facts?

What are the Issues?

What are the Feelings associated with each issue?

What are the Interests?

Note with FIFI each party may not have the same perspective on any of these elements. The parties may each see the facts differently. It is important for both sides to discuss their perception of the facts. They may have some issues that are the same, but there may be issues that one side perceives and the other does not. It helps to identify as many issues as possible. With some issues one party or the other may feel more or less strongly about certain issues than the other party. For example, party A has issues 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 in that order. Party B has issues 2, 6, 5,  and 7 in that order. The two parties agree that issue 2 is an important issue and mutually agree it is a high priority for both of them. Both parties also agree that issue 5 is a mutual issue. The parties should agree about what issues will be brought up and in what order. Understanding the prioritization and emotion behind each issue is important when working on the issues. Finally, what are  the interests behind each issue? Interests provide the seeds to a solution.




Understanding what educating judiciously means and applying the first two steps of The Collaboration Effect, you can take the five steps presented here and choose a model that may fit your circumstances. These are not the only two models, but they are two models often applied successfully in mediations and negotiations. Try them out on something not too difficult. See what you have learned and modify your technique for application in future venues. Good luck. Let me know what you think. I welcome your feedback.

About the author

Mike Gregory is a professional speaker, an author, and a mediator. You may contact Mike directly at and at (651) 633-5311. Mike has written 12 books (and co-authored two others) including his latest book, The Collaboration Effect: Overcoming Your Conflicts, and The Servant Manager, Business Valuations and the IRS, and Peaceful Resolutions that you may find helpful. [Michael Gregory, ASA, CVA, MBA, Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court]