I tweeted about Daniel Dennet's thinking tools - an article on Guardian. Lots of good stuff - take a look at it and if possible buy the book and read.
One idea that most attracted me from this article is about "how to effectively criticize/argue with someone". Here is a quick paraphrase.
3 simple rules (These rules are attributed to social scientist Anatol Rapoport - as Daniel suggests in the article)
1. Attempt to restate (re-express) opponents idea in your words (so clearly that opponent should say "I wish I could have expressed like you did - that is precisely the idea")
2. State the points of agreement about opponents idea (especially if they are not matters of general/public agreement)
3. State what you have learned (new) from the idea
Only after doing 1.2.3 - you can do any rebuttal or criticism.
Notice - what 1, 2, 3 will do to your opponent?
By #1 - you have managed to show that you have understood the idea (even better than the opponent herself)
By #2 - you have established an emotional connect with opponent by explicitly stating what portions of idea you agree with. This will open up opponent for considering your points. This is the point where she will start actively listening to you.
By #3 - This is big one. Through this you show your humility and desire to learn when critiquing an idea.
Through this series of actions - you essentially convert a potential adversarial idea/person into a positive and collaborative interaction.
I will be putting these rules into action for situations where I am disagreeing with anyone and offering opposition or criticism. Let me see how it goes.
Pretty sound advise Daniel. Thanks.