Whether it's a friend, a family member, or a coworker, we all know someone who manages to win every argument, even when they're in the wrong. How do they do it without raising their voice or coming to blows? According to psychologists, it's simple: These master debaters have perfected the art of persuasion—knowing what to say and how to say it in every situation. Follow these tips to improve your rhetorical skills, make yourself heard, and beat the experts at their own game.

1. Be prepared.

A good lawyer wouldn't dream of walking into the courtroom without reliable data, credible quotes, and background research. While you don't need the paperwork of a professional attorney, you shouldn't enter an argument without preparation either. Organize your ideas beforehand, anticipate your opponent's arguments, and think of logical rebuttals. Remember, being prepared will make you more confident and convincing.

2. Assess your opponent.

When it comes to debate, it's important to know who you're dealing with. So, carefully consider your opponent's strengths and weaknesses, as well as their goals and concerns. If you understand what your opponent attempts to achieve through the argument, you'll be more likely to come up with good rebuttals and even solutions that can satisfy both sides.

3. Stay on message.

In the midst of a lively debate, it can be hard to stay focused. But according to experts, it's a critical part of rhetorical success. In fact, many politicians are famous for their ability to consistently drive home the same key message, no matter what. To follow their lead, write down a series of talking points beforehand, then remind yourself to return to those points again and again.

4. Admit your mistakes.

Although it may be tempting to blame your opponent, you may achieve better results by admitting any ways in which you were wrong. In a recent study published in the Journal of Management, researchers found that people who are wronged in a business transaction were more likely to reconcile if they were offered a sincere apology. By taking responsibility, your opponent will be less defensive, which will enable you to move the conversation in a more productive direction.

5. Build consensus.

Rather than viewing a debate as a combative act, take a tip from the Dale Carnegie classic How to Win Friends and Influence People, and see the encounter as an opportunity to build consensus for your point of view. Along these lines, try to communicate with your opponent in a way that's pleasant, friendly, and collaborative, rather than hostile. This way, he or she will be more likely to agree with you

6. Give them credit.

Sometimes the best way to get what you want is to subtly manipulate the conversation so that you opponent thinks it was their idea all along. This way, your opponent can have the satisfaction of thinking they came to the conclusion on their own, and you'll walk away with the results you want. It's a bit like a Jedi mind trick—and it can be an extremely effective technique

7. Be a good listener.

All too often, people try to win an argument by outtalking their opponent, but the real key to communication is listening. So refrain from interrupting, pay close attention to what they're saying, and wait until they've had their say to respond. Not only will this make them less likely to attack; by letting them speak freely, you'll have more opportunity to identify the flaws in their argument.

8. Don't lose your temper.

Nothing can make you lose an argument faster than losing your temper. So try to avoid becoming emotional, angry, or aggressive, any of which your opponent will recognize as a sign of weakness. Instead, remember to focus on the three C's—calm, cool, and collected.