When you want to persuade somebody to choose your argument over another, one of the things that you can do is tie your argument to a bigger picture.

For example, we had a client recently who worked for a European bank, and there was an internal debate within the bank about whether to close the branches in Pakistan, since those branches were unprofitable.

However, our client wanted to argue, we should keep the branches open, because customers in the surrounding countries say that one of the things they like about the bank is that it has branches in the region, and so they know the bank is committed to the region.

Our client wanted to point out that if the bank closed the Pakistan branches, it would save X, but it would endanger another business line worth 10X, since the customers would question the bank’s commitment to the region.

Our client ended up winning the argument, and one of the reasons he won the argument was he tied his perspective to the bigger picture. “Yes, the Pakistan branches are losing money, but the bigger picture is that having them protects business that is 10x larger, and if we close them we risk losing that larger business.”

The key phrase to use in this argument is “but the bigger picture is.” You have to use that phrase. Don’t just think it, actually say it.

Why?

Very few people would say that they are small picture people. In fact, I have never in my life met a person who said, “Yeah, the big picture is nice, but I’m a small picture kind of guy.” So when you use this phrase, especially when there are multiple people in the room, it causes people to begin to favor your argument, because if they don’t, they might look like small picture kind of people.

The argument is basically, “Yes, X, but the bigger picture is Y.”

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About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life managing inventory levels for wholesale import companies and forecasting labor costs for national retail chains. Since 2006, he has been teaching professionals how to present themselves and their companies better. His clients work for companies like Citibank, Microsoft, 3M, P&G, and HP.