Q&A: What do you do if your opponent corners you in Cross-Examintion?

Q: What do you do if your opponent corners you in Cross-Examintion?

A:

If your opponent corners you with a question, this means that either answer will help your opponent in some way. For these questions to work, they have to provide two options for answers; therefore these questions are either/or questions  or yes/no questions.

For either/or questions, you should answer it only if it is useful for your argument. However, it is always valid to argue that the situation isn’t an either/or situation and there are more than two options. If you do the latter, make sure you give examples of the other options and tell the judge the option you would choose. The example should be different than what your opponent provided. To bring up another possible answer will circumvent your opponent’s attempt to corner you.

For yes/no questions, you can also answer yes or no if it is helpful to your argument. Your other option is to give a full answer. Yes/no questions simplify an argument. Point out that the question ignores some important fact or aspect of the discussion and explain your answer. If the yes/no question appears to lead to a follow-up that would hurt your argument, respond yes or no and preempt the follow up. While you cannot ignore a question that is asked, you can call-out your opponent’s strategy and expose the answer you want to talk about rather than be confined to the options your opponent presents. Some opponents will demand a yes or no, so be ready to fight for you alternative answer.

Ultimately, you don’t step into the corner your opponents create. Usually these questions leave out some important aspect of the round or ignore another argument that has been made. Bring more of the debate to bear than what your opponent wants you to.

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