With elections coming soon and the recent acquittal of DonaldTrump, you are more than likely to get into a debate with someone. Debates are an excellent way for two or more parties to exchange their opinions and information on particular topics. I am highly fond of them because when I enter one, I like to listen more than I talk. By doing this, I’m able to comprehend and possibly compromise and find common ground between one another’s opinions. I believe controversial topics should be discussed through a well-mannered debate. However, the reason most people avoid controversial issues is that instead of having a discussion, they ensue in an argument. Arguments are just another name for ill-mannered debates. Next time you’re in one, make sure you follow these following few tips.
Calm down, it’s just a conversation
It’s important to remember that you and whoever else is in the debate-turned-argument are not changing the world, nor the other person’s mind, with this conversation. Too often, people argue and yell at each other as if they think they’re going to change people’s mind. It is essential to regain your perspective when your temper rises. Remember, the fate of the subject matter does not rest on this conversation! As it is most commonly said, “It’s not the end of the world!” Once the debate becomes an argument and you become aggressive, you must diffuse and end the conversation or change the topic or tone. Do your best to maintain a level-head and reasonable perspective throughout the debate.
Lower your voice, you’re right next to each other
When a debate is mismanaged and becomes an argument, people begin to raise their voices as a show of dominance. One trying to be heard over the other. Once voices are raised, one person usually yells, “Stop raising your voice!” Followed by the other person yelling, “I’m not, you are!” From personal experience, this will get you nowhere. And I’m sure you know that, but here’s your friendly reminder. It is essential to keep the voices to a conversational level because once one person raises their voice, it provokes the other person to raise their voice in an attempt to be louder than you.
In a conversation, you have to look for a few signs to keep it from turning ugly. You need to check-in on yourself, and according to Amy Gallo, an expert in conflict, communication, and workplace dynamics states that you need to reflect on “your own physical reaction that you are starting to feel threatened. Your heart rate goes up, your face may turn red, and your breathing becomes more shallow.” Once this happens, you have two options, either to leave that conversation or to bring the tone down because Gallo says, “the risk is losing access to the rational front cortex of the brain, and then it becomes more difficult to be your best self.” This means that losing your temper hampers your ability to think and act rationally, thus turning your debate into an argument.
Most debates turn into arguments because two people go into the discussion with the subconscious, or blatant, intention of convincing the other person that they’re right. The most productive way to have a debate is to go in to gain knowledge from an alternate perspective. Thinking like this allows you to realize that it’s not your job to change anyone’s mind. The approach of wanting to learn from the other person will prevent you from becoming aggressive and frustrated.
Once you have begun to listen and try to comprehend what the other person is saying, it’s time to find common ground. We, as human beings, like to think our opinions are wholly and utterly unique from anyone else’s. Though, you may be surprised to find similarity with someone who you least expect. Society has a tendency to, in general, think and act the same way. Yes, there are discrepancies like political party preferences or climate change stances but taking the time to find for something in common will pay off in terms of keeping the debate friendly. Opposing views are not what pulls an argument from the debate, it’s the lack of compromise.
People usually try to avoid debates because they seemingly inevitably turn into arguments. But I would love to see more people engage in conversations about controversial topics and embrace them. There’s no need to avoid them, they don’t have to become arguments. After reading these five tips, I hope you are more capable of keeping the debate friendly. From personal experience, I find that the most crucial advice is to find empathy with someone else. It benefits you to find common ground with someone because you’ll realize you actually agree with some seemingly opposing views. It also helps the other person because it shows them that you’re willing to hear their opinions and reasoning.
So, next time you’re sitting at the dinner table, don’t be afraid to engage in a friendly debate.