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It isn’t always about winning. Rogerian arguments are renowned for and distinguishable from so-called “traditional” arguments due to an emphasis towards discussion and acknowledgement of the points made by the other side. During the times when Greeks roamed more of the earth, this approach was used in public settings in an attempt to endear themselves to voters on either side of an issue. Smart? Not really. Nobody in his/her right mind falls for it anymore. In fact, nobody in his/her right mind believes anything a politician says these days.
Objectivity is another key component to Rogerian argument, encouraging both sides to embrace the differences that have prevented a resolution. The goal here is for both sides to see the argument under a different light; a different angle, so people are able to see things again for the first time. It is almost reminiscent of coercion, but without the potential of force by threat. A more accurate term for this type of persuasion would be “intentional distraction”.
The Rogerian approach to arguing helped spawn the hackneyed and altogether useless term “agree to disagree”, framed in real life by people rolling their eyes and using less than five words to show how many parts stupid and stubborn they consist of. How is it designed to work?
Unfortunately, it doesn’t typically work as designed and is about as useful as the United Nations. So, what is the best way to celebrate the impact, or lack thereof, of the Rogerian approach to arguing? Fresh ways to show how ineffective it is, of course. In the spirit of finding more questions than answers, here are a few ideas to further question the validity of Rogerian arguments.
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