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A lot of people argue, but not a lot of people know how to argue. There is a 4-step formula that lawyers are taught in Law School when it comes to winning arguments.
I’m going to teach you this 4-step formula so you know how to argue like a lawyer. Then, I’m going to show you how this formula wins arguments at your job, and in Court, so you’ll never lose an argument again.
What is the 4-Step formula?
Lawyers use CRAC. Not Crack, but CRAC. (stupid joke, but hopefully it makes you remember)
CRAC is the 4-step Formula taught to law students, and you’re going to learn this $80K formula today for FREE. Also, you don’t have to spend 7 years in school!
CRAC stands for:
Let’s apply this in a really simple scenario.
This color is Green.
When primary colors (Red, Yellow, or Blue) are mixed together, they create a new color. Mixing equal parts Yellow and Blue creates Green.
Green isn’t a primary color, which means that it must have been created by mixing primary colors. I mixed the two primary colors of Yellow and Blue which created this color.
Therefore, because the rule states that mixing primary colors Yellow and Blue creates Green, and those were the colors that I mixed, then this color must be Green.
How to argue using the 4-Step formula
This formula can be applied to nearly any scenario. In fact, I bet you’re already using some parts of this formula in your arguments without even realizing it!
The key here is for you to be a little more focused in your delivery.
- Conclusion: Begin by stating your conclusion. What is the disagreement at hand, and what is your position on it? Be clear and concise in your statement of the conclusion and try to boil it down to the simplest terms.
- Rule: Next, state the rule that applies to the disagreement. This could be a statute, a regulation, legal precedent, your company’s policy manual, or even your Homeowners Association’s bylaws. Be sure to state the rule accurately and completely.
- Analysis: Now it is time to analyze how the rule applies to the facts of your situation. This is where you will make your argument. Explain how the rule supports your position, and use evidence from your specific case to support your argument. Anticipate counterarguments and address them in your analysis.
- Conclusion: Finally, restate your conclusion and summarize your argument. Be sure to emphasize why your analysis supports your conclusion and why it is the correct interpretation of the law, rule, or bylaw.
Most people don’t know how to argue so they make the mistake of debating their analysis first, before establishing the conclusion and the rule. Beginning with your conclusion and the rule gives you ammunition to use in your analysis so you can drive your point home in the final conclusion with authority.
How to argue with your Boss
You walk into work 5 minutes after your shift started, and your boss storms in yelling about you being late and threatening to fire you. It’s true, your company’s policy allows termination of employees for being late.
However, your company’s policy manual states that an employee is “late” if the employee arrives 10 minutes later than their shift begins.
I know what you’re thinking: that’s an EASY argument! Your first instinct is to just say, “No I’m not!” but that just opens the discussion for debate and argument. That’s not how to argue if you want to win.
Use the CRAC!
- C: Boss, I’m actually not late today.
- R: The company policy manual states that employees are late if the employee arrives 10 minutes or later after the beginning of the shift.
- A: I arrived to my shift within 5 minutes of it beginning, and not 10 minutes or more after it began.
- C: Respectfully, because I’m not considered “late” according to company policy, then there’s no reason to threaten me with termination.
Do you see how clear, concise, and persuasive that is? I’m willing to bet that your Boss doesn’t know how to argue, so they will be stunned when faced with your bullet-proof argument.
How to argue in Court
If you want to know how to argue in Court, this is where things get really interesting. Here’s where learning how to argue is like learning a secret language.
When you learn how to argue by using this 4-step formula, you’re going to tell the Judge that you know this secret language.
You have to remember that the Judge was an attorney for several years before putting on the robe. The Judge hears experienced attorneys speak this secret language all day every day, so learning to speak it will put you on par with the other litigators.
Here’s what that looks like.
You get served with a lawsuit for not paying a long-forgotten credit card bill. The last time you used this credit card was at least 10 years ago. The law (in Texas) is that breach of contract lawsuits must be filed within 4 years of the breach, as that is the statute of limitations.
Use the CRAC!
- C: Judge, the Plaintiff cannot sue me for this breach of contract and this case must be dismissed in my favor.
- R: A cause of action for Breach of Contract must be filed not later than 4 years following the date of the breach, and suits filed after the limitations period are barred.
- A: The date of the breach in this case was 2013, but Plaintiff waited until 2023 to file this suit. Therefore, I’m entitled to assert the defense of Limitations.
- C: This case must be dismissed in my favor because Plaintiff failed to file suit within the limitations period and this lawsuit is barred by law.
When the Judge hears your perfectly executed argument, you’ll probably get a subtle nod because even experienced litigators sometimes fail to present such a well-crafted argument.
Unfortunately, not all of your arguments will be with people who will appreciate the beauty in the art of arguing.
How to argue without quarreling
You may have noticed that the art of the argument, as I’ve laid it out, doesn’t call for a lot of “arguing.” What some people call arguing, (yelling insults back and forth) is not actually arguing but is just pointless quarreling.
“Argue” means, “to give reasons or cite evidence in support of an idea, action, or theory, typically with the aim of persuading others to share one’s view.” “Quarrel” means, “an angry difference of opinion.”
Arguing doesn’t require anger. In fact, anger will destroy a good argument because the best arguments are based on logic.
When arguing, you must stick to the 4-step CRAC formula if you want to win. If you’re lucky enough to argue with someone who concedes to your winning argument, thank them and then move on with class. Most likely though, when your opponent realizes that your argument is rock-solid, they will try to drag you down into the mud with insults and aggression. Don’t fall for it.
“Don’t ever wrestle with a pig. You’ll both get dirty, and the pig will enjoy it.”-George Barnard Shaw
When you see the signs of aggression (yelling, puffed-up chest, insults) you should see that for what it is, the white flag of surrender. Take your win and walk away with pride.
Now that you know how to argue like a lawyer, you’ll be winning arguments in no time. But before you start setting trial dates, Counselor, make sure you check out these 7 Body Language Tips for Court.
–Authored by Matthew L. Harris, Esq.,
Matthew Harris Law, PLLC – Civil Litigation Division
1101 Broadway, Lubbock, Texas, 79401-3303
Tel: (806) 702-4852 | Fax: (800) 985-9479