Nailing Your Argument

January 14, 2014


In August 2012, President Obama appeared on the news site Reddit, for a popular AMA (Ask Me Anything) feature.  Reddit servers crashed under the weight of thousands of visitors, who were attracted by the high-profile guest. Reddit owners decided that they had no choice but to use cloud services from Amazon. The cloud solution has become a household name with every organization and average user. However, it also created a non-trivial dilemma.

The willingness to transfer responsibility or resources to an external entity is a sign of flexibility, but it also entails giving up one’s control of one’s data. Soon enough there were two opposing Reddit camps ‒ for and against the transition.

Analogy is an imaginary connection, where a comparison is made between two things or more. We are all familiar with the definition of analogy from our school days, but in practice, we use it extensively in our daily lives, as it is an important logical and cognitive tool. An intelligent use of analogy as part of interpersonal communication can be very productive as a way of attaining our goals.

Analogy is an effective tool for demonstrating a need, changing an opinion, or even diffusing a confrontation. It is a shortcut, part of a non-rational decision process. Those capable of touching the correct non-rational points can convince their audiences to move in the desired direction.

In the Reddit case, one of those opposing the transition argued that giving up control and moving to a cloud, is like a chef who gives up control of his ingredients. That is unheard of, as it can degrade the quality of the meal (the product), and to damage the trust of the diners (the customers). A Reddit engineer used an opposing analogy, and answered: how is this different from us giving up the control of our water and electricity supply?

Instead of immersing themselves in a technical or business argument, their public back-and-forth used analogies to explain their positions to all audiences, not only to those versed in terminology from their own professional field. You can decide with which analogy you identify the strongest, and what motivates you the most.

We use analogy extensively in our daily lives, as it is a basic logical and cognitive tool.


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