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Final Thoughts: You’ve Got the Power

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If you are familiar with the superhero Spiderman, perhaps you know the mantra that drives him: With great power comes great responsibility. This, we believe, is true for superheroes and arguers alike. Indeed, many of the concepts presented in this book teach you to think more critically and to argue more effectively. In that respect, you have more power than you did before you read these chapters. With that in mind, we believe you have a responsibility. As with most things (e.g., a gun, a hammer, knowledge), the ability to argue persuasively can be used for good or evil. After reading this chapter, we hope you’ll choose to use your arguing skills wisely.


This chapter examined important features of competent and ethical argument. First, it discussed several traits, some fostering competent argumentation (i.e., argumentativeness, tolerance for disagreement) and some not (i.e., verbal aggressiveness, taking conflict personally). Next, it examined several goals that communicators should keep in mind when arguing. First, arguers should attempt to create favorable images of themselves and others by respecting the positive and negative face of others. Second, arguers should consider their own and others’ moral and ethical principles, which should include creating messages that are truthful, unambiguous, and relevant. Third, arguers should attempt to create and maintain favorable relationships while arguing by valuing others and treating them with compassion, dignity, and equality. Finally, arguers should manage their emotions while being mindful of the emotions of others.


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