It's Jerk Week, and we've got everything you need to handle the rudest people in life—and advice for what to do when you're the one in the wrong.
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The best way to win an argument with an asshole is to ignore them completely. But that’s not always possible. Sometimes you need to convince someone to stop arguing and physically move away, or you need to de-escalate an argument with someone you need to co-exist with. Sometimes you need to quash a very bad idea before it catches on. When you really have to argue with an asshole, says lawyer Ryann Meer, you have to argue like an asshole.
In a viral Tumblr post that recently became a viral Twitter post, Meer explains that when someone is arguing in bad faith, you cannot beat them by arguing in good faith. They’re not here to weigh two opposing ideas, they’re here to yell at you for disagreeing with them. You can’t play chess with someone who’s playing tetherball.
To beat an asshole, says Meer, you have to abandon any hope of convincing them that you are right. “Here’s a cool terrible thing about humans,” he says: “Certainty has nothing to do with facts. And when people are certain, that is when they become assholes.” Giving them facts will just give them material to be assholes about. Instead you have to make the asshole lose by their own rules. You have to be unfair.
Meer lays out several asshole tactics, which you need to use on assholes when—or before—they use them on you:
Make them define every term, and pick apart their definitions.
Whatever question they ask you, make them answer it first, or else they’re cowards.
Chide them for getting too emotional.
If they try to make a joke or use a euphemism based on an abhorrent opinion, pretend you don’t get it until they spell it out.
Laugh at them.
Let them leave.
Read a fuller explanation of these tactics on Meer’s blog.
And as Meer points out, this approach is useful on assholes because it’s the asshole playbook. Don’t whip it out on someone who isn’t asking for it.