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  • Steven Sutton, LCSW

Steel-Man Your Partners Position Part #5

Updated: Feb 12, 2020



Using the steel-man technique is a wonderful way of creating value in conversation and moving forward in a positive manner. Philosopher Danial Dennent breaks down the technique in four steps:

1) You should attempt to re-express your partner's position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your partner says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.”

2) You should list any points of agreement.

3) You should mention anything you have learned from your partner.

4) Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.


Practice steel-manning when you’re stuck and having the same old argument. You’ll find it challenging but the more you practice the better you’ll become at executing the steps. The benefits are clear and include soothing yourself and your partner, endowing the conversation with a sense that you’re paying attention to what is important to both of you, demonstrating respect for your partner’s position, and increasing the likelihood they may listen to what you have to say rather than simply defending themselves.

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