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Last updated on 2/11/20

Develop an argument

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You now know how to prepare your written documents. Next, learn how to adapt your draft according to the goals, the target and the chosen medium.

According to the goal and the target, you need to choose a form of communication from which a type of argument will flow.

Choose a form of communication

Descriptive text

The purpose of descriptive text is to present facts. For example, following the removal of a department to another building, you need to tell the employees how to reconfigure the printers. Choose a neutral tone, keep it factual and write your text in the present tense

Example:

Following the move of the Financial Management Centre to the seventh floor, you need to reconfigure the printers.

The operating procedure is as follows:

Click on the following link (…);
Select printer C07_12_LX950;
Then go to the Control Panel (…). 

Explanatory text

Explanatory text provides all the information needed for understanding. Use linking words to be persuasive.

Example:

You wish to understand the reasons for the increase in your company’s corporation tax forecast.

According to our information, the government plans to introduce a special corporation tax for the year 2017, for companies with a turnover greater than €3 billion.

Consequently, your company, which had a turnover of €3.7 billion in 2017, is affected by this new measure.

Directive text

Directive text is intended for giving instructions. However, explain the basis and validity of the instructions to get your reader on board. 

Example:

As mentioned during the meeting called to present the new accounting requirements, companies that have business dealings with subsidiaries abroad must send off a declaration No. 2257-SD every year.

In this context, we ask you to compile a list, by 12th February, of all your services carried out for the benefit of overseas subsidiaries.

Argumentative text

Argumentative text is aimed at supporting an argument or at convincing somebody of its point of view. Be positive, even when you note your disagreement! This will encourage your reader to think about your position or request. They are likely to, in turn, use the same register to reply to you.

Example:

Dear Caroline,

At the end of the internal recruitment process for the developer post, I was asked to join the teams located in Spain.

 At this stage, the HR conditions are as follows: …

 I don’t see that the setup currently proposed will work, because …

 Please could we discuss this matter soon?

 With best wishes,

 Peter

In a professional context, you should mainly use convincing. In this case, the communication is geared more towards reason than emotions. You should argue your points; that’s why you need to choose a type of reasoning.

Choose a type of reasoning

Authoritative reasoning

Authoritative reasoning consists of invoking an authority (e.g. the hierarchy or a law), while putting an argument, attributing value to a statement according to its origin, rather than its content.

Example:

The company’s HR policy currently provides that, in the context of a posting to a subsidiary in Spain, payment of the seniority bonus is suspended. 

Here, it is the origin of the message, i.e. the group’s HR department, that takes precedence. This is what will convince the reader that this department has authority over these matters.

Logical reasoning

Logical reasoning consists of establishing a relationship of cause and effect between two things.

Example:

Requests for postings during any year must reach the HR Department before 1st January of the year in question. As it happens, for the year 2018, your request for a posting reached us on 12th January 2018. In this situation, our department cannot approve your request for a posting in 2018. 

Here, what counts is the logical sequence: the date of the request leads to the impossibility of approving it.

Reasoning by analogy

Reasoning by analogy consists of making a comparison to convince.

Example:

The Marseille shop achieved a 6% increase in turnover this year. As your shop has similar constraints, we expect an increase of at least 5% in your turnover.

Reasoning by concession

Reasoning by concession consists of anticipating the differences of position and showing that you have understood the situation in its entirety.

Example:

I have, indeed, noted that building B2 of the Nanterre factory needs repainting. However, the estimate sent by the contractor comes to €50,000. Also, it is planned to move out of the building in 18 months. In this context, don’t you think that it would be best to defer any redecoration costs for building B2 of the Nanterre factory?

In this case, the writer makes a concession, noting that repainting is necessary, but justifies their refusal by giving additional facts.

You now know how to choose a form of communication. Next, you must be able to employ a suitable vocabulary to communicate simply and effectively.

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