Written by Millionaire’s Digest Team Member: William Tobin
Founder & Owner of: Lib-Orator
Millionaire’s Digest Team, Contributor, Books, Business, Education, Entrepreneur and Successful Living Writer
How do we exchange thoughts in today’s world?
Debating is an ancient art and seeing people or parties debate can be an angry or enlightening affair.
We debate on things in everyday life and either debate with ourselves on life’s little things, like whether to have another gin and tonic or the best musician of the 20th century. However, in this post, I want to cover the more challenging topic of debating in business and what it takes to be a firm but nonetheless agreeable debate.
Sometimes you will be flung into a debate, other times you will know that your meeting or appointment may contain some hard hitting topics that you and your opposition will have to tackle together.
First and foremost, if you are in control and want to lead the engagement, asking questions is the best way to reveal your opposition’s stance. Further to this, ask open and closed questions. For example, an open question would be one that lets the person explain and describe something. A closed question is less revealing and only lets the opposition answer with a yes or no. So use open questions to get a feel for your opposition and what they hold as truths.
Respect your opponents views and their position on matters. This is the single most important piece of advice I can give. It doesn’t matter how great you are at debunking the opposition’s beliefs. If you do so in a manner which disrespects your opponent and their views, then you are only serving to prove you are not as enlightened as you appear. Often, this can happen due to a simple misunderstanding between opposition or someone’s line of the debate being a little inconsistent. Use phrases such as “If I am understanding you correctly…” or “So, if I understand what you are saying…”.
By using the above tactic to demonstrate to your opponent that you understand their position and view. You can now introduce your counter-argument. Do this by introducing your argument as an idea. Simply saying that the idea of the opposition is wrong and/or stupid isn’t constructive; offer a different idea. It doesn’t always have to be the polar opposite. But it does always need to be structured and delivered in a coherent manner. Offer examples, data, facts and supporting statements along with your own thesis for why you hold a particular opinion or belief.
Now you and your counterpart have both introduced your arguments and where you stand, you can offer your rebuttal. Your rebuttal should be just as structured, containing supporting arguments and of course evidence that supports all arguments pertaining to your rebuttal.
Now your opponent can offer their rebuttal, you should firstly respect their delivery and let them talk freely. Just like you have tried to find fault with their argument, it is now their turn to do the same. Let them do so without undermining or distracting them. Remember their rebuttals, take notes and then tackle them when they have finished talking.
Seek out logical fallacies in your opponents work and seek to gently correct or offer a more logical approach to their line of thinking. Research logical fallacies on the internet as they are easy to spot but have an extremely broad range of uses. Train yourself to spot these and tackle them at the source.
As you delve further into the debate/exchange remember to stay calm and laid back, no matter how heated or divisive you feel the situation is. Remaining laid back and respectfully shows that you are in control of not only yourself but also your execution. Remember you are there to conduct business and leave with a sale or a future sale.
If you find that the end of the debate has come and one of you has come around to the opposition’s line of thinking. A congratulation is in order. If you see yourself returning to an earlier topic or part of the argument already covered, you may have begun rehashing old arguments. Do not engage in this. At all. Just say something in line with “I respect your opinion, I cannot agree with you, but maybe maybe I will in the future”. Alternatively, you can say “Thank you for your time, but I am afraid I cannot agree with you, maybe we can discuss this again in the future”. Remain calm and respectful regardless of the end state.
To seal the end of the exchange, shake hands and wrap up your meeting amicably. No one likes a sore loser or an arrogant victor. Treat your opposite number with respect and sportsmanship. Even if you don’t leave seeing eye to eye, there is no reason why you can’t walk away with a new found respect or understanding. You might even make a friend!
When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser. – Socrates
Article Credits: William Tobin
Millionaire’s Digest Team, Contributor