We need to know how to debate well.
If you learned to debate through a debate or speech team or perhaps in a class, you know it’s important to research and establish a case of evidence, even if that evidence seems to be a stretch. String enough weak points together, and the knots can create some stability. Debating well includes being able to take a stand contrary to our personal stance, so we practice and prepare. Debating well requires a stance of confidence.
In everyday life, we debate on a regular basis, but unless both people agree, it rarely resembles a formal debate. There is no external judge; instead there is a relationship at stake. Despite who makes the best points, both people can lose—in relationship, respect, and truth.
There is a lot of poor debating going on right now.
We need to get better. We need to focus less on winning and more on listening—to others as well as ourselves. It makes sense that we like what we hear ourselves saying, but if we truly listen to ourselves, we might hear anger, impatience, and other aspects of the interactions and process we don’t expect and (hopefully) don’t intend.
How can we expect others to listen to us well if we’re not listening well? How can we expect others to respect our voices if we’re not respecting theirs? How can we expect others to grow if we’re stuck where we are?
We need to get beyond the stance of “I don’t care what you think. This is what I believe, and you can take it or leave it.” Sure, sometimes we need to move on from a conversation or relationship because it is not going anywhere productive, and we shouldn’t be so acutely sensitive to what others think of us that we let every offense damage us. But there is a lot of room between the extremes.
We don’t have to bend to every perspective and opinion, and we don’t have to change the core of what we believe, but we can be sure of our beliefs without arrogance. We can have spirited dialogue with humility and patience. When we disrespect others, we reveal something about our character.
Our intentions can be misinterpreted. As we set healthy boundaries, others can believe we are being spiteful and merciless. As we extend generosity, others can believe we are naive. As we invite new conversations, others can believe we are bending to popular trends. Keep others’ reactions in context.
Also, keep your intentions in context. We can misinterpret our own intentions as well, such as, rationalizing our avoidance of confrontation as setting healthy boundaries or our need be approved and fit in as our reason for sharing popular posts or participating in community events.
We need to keep ourselves in check.
We need to think well and listen well. There is much more at stake than a debate team score.