Why Debating is Often Counterproductive

Do we start a debate firmly believing that our oratory skills and persuasion will actually convince our opponent to change his mind?Rarely will an individual concede a point in a debate, and the more he is given proof he might be wrong, the more his mind seeks to justify and rationalize his point of view.  As he provides evidence and refutations, (however weak or flawed they might be) his perspective often becomes even more solidified in his own mind. You may also succeed in tearing apart his argument, but he will continue to fight solely because he feels attacked and backed into a corner. It’s almost impossible to have a debate and win. You can carry on a worthwhile debate if it’s to prove to the audience that your argument is logical, true and right. But if your purpose is to win your opponent to your thinking, a different approach will be needed. Often, two people get in a discussion about a subject and they spend hours haggling over the details. They are just wasting time. No matter if one of them is truly right, they aren’t going to reach an agreement. If you hold the correct point of view, you make it harder for your opponent to accept it if you back him into a corner. It’s hopeless, and even harmful to endlessly debate, as you will find you’re just obscuring his ability to think rationally. A better alternative: state your opinion and present your case. Then allow him freedom and space to process. In a less threatening environment, he may actually begin to see and understand the truth.

Pete The Perfectionist

I’d like you to meet someone. His name is Pete the Perfectionist. Now for him it’s not always about being perfect. Yes, he’s acutely aware of his faults and he works hard to change, however, he’s realistic enough to know that he’s not going to reach perfection. What starts to create the problems is when other people start to notice his imperfections. He want’s to feel completely in control and put together all the time, or at least when other’s can see it. The problem isn’t being perfect, it’s looking perfect.

Pete is self reliant because he equates having needs with looking weak.

He’s dishonest because he presents himself the way that he’d like to be, not the way he actually is.

He won’t try new things because he doesn’t want others to see him fail.

He has a social mask, and sometimes forget to take it off even around those he cares about most.

He’s embarrassed by mishaps and mistakes because he’d like to be completely capable.

Well Pete, First off, people don’t like to be around those who seem to be perfect. We feel inferior and inadequate. We also can’t relate to you. We need to see that you’re human. We want to identify with your struggles and needs, or else we don’t know how to connect.

Secondly, if you were perfect, there’d be nothing to talk about, laugh about or be surprised by. So when you:

  • Trip up the stairs
  • Make an embarrassing blunder
  • Wear your shirt inside out to work
  • Spill your drink all over yourself

Pete, this will show others that you are like them, that you do fail, that you aren’t perfect and that it’s okay.

But before you can do that, you must be okay for other’s to see your true self. Imperfect, and flawed but still valuable and wonderful.