Home > User Experience > Book Summary: How to Argue with a CAT by Jay Heinrichs | by Arup Roy | Jan, 2021

Book Summary: How to Argue with a CAT by Jay Heinrichs | by Arup Roy | Jan, 2021

Book Summary: How to Argue with a CAT by Jay Heinrichs | by Arup Roy | Jan, 2021


If you can persuade a CAT … you can persuade anyone.

How often do we get an advisor to the Pentagon, NASA and Fortune 500 companies, distill his lifetime learning of negotiation and rhetoric to show us how to win over anyone — from colleagues to bosses, to friends and partners? And for those super busy and super ambitious ones among you — how often do you get all that knowledge distilled in to a super dense 9 minute blog designed for you to read on your walk from the parking lot to your office desk and back?

According to the author ( and you would agree with him by the end of the book), CATS rank among the world’s top negotiators and are masters of the dark art of persuasion … hence, the title. Keeping CATS in the forefront and using anecdotes, Jay shares his own life experiences, personal and professional, as well as his extensive and deep study of rhetoric. He extensively draws from the wisdom of philosophers from Aristotle to modern thinkers.

I read his book and re-read a couple of times to internalize what I read. I have, since then, continuously tried to practice what I learned, and with very effective results. Here is what I would want to share with you ….

In this book , Jay Heinrichs, teaches us how to:

Perfect your timing — learn the art of the pounce

Get your body language, tone and gesture just right

Think about what your opponent wants — always offer a comfy lap

Lure them in by making them think they have the power

Negotiating with a CAT — Photo by Willian Justen de Vasconcellos @ Unsplash

ONE: — Practice Agreeability ….. and turn a disagreement into a beautiful relationship — — — Jay opens his book with the statement that although both a fight and an argument begin with a disagreement, in a fight our primary goal is to win, while in an argument our primary goal is to win over your opponent. He further draws in from the wisdom of CATS, stating that, when two humans disagree with each other their goal is to make their opponent admit that she is wrong, whereas when a CAT disagrees with anyone, his primary goal is to get what he wants. CATS also understand the importance of an Agreeable Personality. Such a personality leads to happier relationships, more successful career and a more persuasive life. Even if your opponent attacks you personally, do not get angry. Just nod your head and stay as calm as possible or at least show that you are calm.

Two: — Pounce like a Predator ….. by learning persuasion’s timing secret — — — — In this chapter Jay quotes a a CAT wisdom example, by stating that — Early CATS only manage to get a worm, while a patient and quiet CAT eats better. Jay, advises that to argue like a predator, you need to settle down first. Watch and Listen. Pay attention to your prey ( your opponent). Then gather your thoughts, gain a good perspective of the whole issue and finally pounce when the moment is ripe. Contrary to this, we humans, usually tend to argue like silly dogs. We bark at each other, get angry and attack each other, lose our way and make ourselves look like idiots. Jay, urges you to be a WISE CAT … Not a SILLY DOG.

Three: — Defuse Anger ….. by cooling things down with a thing called the future — — — Anger breeds more anger. Blaming your opponent or snubbing then down can only worsen the situation. Jay’s suggests that the most useful tool to take anger out of the equation is to: switch to the future. Even if you are the victim, rather than blaming the perpetrator, try to talk about a possible choices and course of action so the same thing is not repeated in future.

Four: — Fit in with the clan ….. by practicing perfect decorum — — — This commandment is a further extension of the first one. The first one urges you to have an agreeable personality. This one suggests you one of the ways, how. An agreeable personality in one social group can be a disagreeable in another one. Try to FIT-IN the CLAN — is what Jay says. Learn the rules, the likes and dislikes, the dos and donts, unstiffen your neck. Learn the art of retaining your individuality but at the same time adapting to the social group to which your opponent belongs to. Be a bit flexible.

Five: — Earn Loyalty ….. by wielding the tools of character — — — If you have earned the trust of people, you are bound to be successful at persuading them as you wish. And you do this by mastering the 3Cs:-

  • Caring: Which means making people believe that you put their interests before your own.
  • Craft: Which means making your target audience believe that you are really good at your craft.
  • Cause: Which means making your target audience believe that you represent a good cause ( remember that the definition of good changes from person to person and from one group to another).

Six: — Argue Logically ….. and persuade a CAT to come to you— — — When you argue with someone, you can not just say — “I want to do this – because I like doing this”. That is like a dog chasing its own tail. Jay says, don’t be a silly dog. Always argue with REASON. A good reason is what your audience or opponent believes to be true ( not what you believe to be true, or what facts and statistics indicate). So, Jay repeats — know your opponent, know your audience first. Then tailor your personality and tune in your logic according to them.

Seven: — Avoid Manipulation ….. logical fallacies and why they fool us — — — As the subtitle suggests , persuasion is a dark art. More often than not, one is always at the risk of getting persuaded from salespeople to politicians. Here, Jay, cautions you that it is not just about you trying to manipulate others, it is also about not getting manipulated yourself. This can be done by being wary of facade words and logical fallacies. He urges you to keep and active and alert mind and use critical thinking to see through these two devils. Strike a balance between trusting someone vs being cynical or simply curious about them. For example, if someone says something like — “Something is going on” …. you should immediately put your critical thinking hat and ask back — “ What exactly do you mean by Something? and What do you mean by going on?”

Eight: — Talk with Your Body ….. and convince with tone and gesture — — — In this commandment, JAY details stresses the fact that communication is more than just talking. Never underestimate the importance of body language — he says. Here are few tips he shares with us …

  • Sitting Posture: While sitting, imagine your head to be a balloon that is floating straight up to the ceiling and is pulling your spine along with it. Keep your spine away from the back rest of the chair, and to avoid yourself looking stiff, relax your shoulders straight down.
  • Standing Posture: While standing, you must tuck in your hips, pull your shoulders back and then relax them straight down and balance your head between your shoulders.
  • Avoid crossing arms unless someone is trying to talk you into something which you are not liking. While crossing arms make sure you grip around the outside of your arms rather than tucking in to the armpits. This shows confidence and self-respect.
  • CATS know the most persuasive facial expressions start with the eyes. Eyes can listen and eyes can speak. For a listening eye, move your gaze from one eyeball of the speaker to the other. For a speaking eye, draw in all your energy in to your eyes and let them sparkle and twinkle.

Nine: — Make Them Heed ….. one of the greatest tools of persuasion — — — Borrowing from the wisdom of Aristotle, Jay suggests that the best way to make people heed, is the classic two pronged — LURE and RAMP model. According to Aristotle, not only do you need to build a desire for a goal, but also make the action seem easy or a lot of fun. Break the final goal in to bite sized chunks and ramp up to your final goal. Not only does it give a sense of achievement to the person performing the task but it also makes it a lot more easy and fun to do. So if you want to get a CAT into a BOX, then place the box at a high position in the room, and build a ramp to enter the box and place small piece of chicken at regular intervals on the ramp and the final one inside the box.

Ten: — Follow the Steps ….. learn the importance of Checklists — — — Finally, Jay offers the reader a checklist, which in a way, is a summary of all that we have learned till now. And you might want to memorize and internalize, it like I have.

1. What is your goal? Be clear in your head about it first and never lose track of it.

2. Is the timing right?

3. Is the mood of your audience or opponent favorable?

4. Is she or he paying attention?

5. Mind your tense. Talking in past tense is usually about blaming. So talk in future tense and give choices.

6. Make sure your opponent or audience like you and trust you.

7. Remember that you have meet your ends walking through your audience’s beliefs. Emotions are more powerful than intellect (for most people) and beliefs are more powerful than rationality, facts and statistics (for most people). Hard fact, but true.

8. Be mindful of your body language, posture and facial expressions. Look confident.

9. Break your end goal in to bite sized chunks. LURE your audience to do these bite sized easy tasks and slowly RAMP it up to your final goal.

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