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The Difference Between An Argument and a Debate

Arguments are more passionate and emotional - neither one of you is really listening to the other one because you're so angry about your side of the story. In a debate, people express their point of view in a calm and logical manner. They don't scream over one another.

Below are some tips on keeping things as a debate rather than an argument:

1) COUNT TO TEN. When you hear or read something that starts to make your heart pound because of how strongly you disagree, take a moment. Before you whip off a response, take a moment to ask yourself “Why exactly am I feeling this way? What concept am I disagreeing with and why? Why do I believe the opposite is true?” This will not only give you a moment to think out a logical response, but it will also give you some natural sources in your life that you can use to back up your argument. Did you read a book or article that made a case for the opposite concept? Were you brought up to believe something different and where did those ideas come from?

2) FOCUS ON THE TOPIC AND NOT THE PERSON. This seems obvious at first, but when in the midst of a passionate debate, it can be easy to slip into what can be perceived as a personal attack to try and get your point across.

3) CONSIDER THE OTHER VIEW POINT. This can be difficult – especially if you passionately believe in the opposing point of view. But at least try to consider it. Where did it come from? Why do you think people believe this point of view? What do you think makes them feel so passionately about it? Trying to gain empathy for the people who believe in the opposing point of view will help you to focus on the topic and not the people who believe it.

4) BACK IT UP. When approaching a topic in an academic or professional space, always have sources to back up what you are saying – no matter what point of view you choose. This makes your communication strong and not seemingly “personal”. That way, when you do relate personal experience or opinions, your communication seems more balanced.

5) AGREE TO DISAGREE. In the end, when you have considered the opposing point of view and then used sources to get your own point of view across, you may still not come to a satisfying agreeable conclusion in your debate. This is fine. That is why there is so much diversity in our world and what makes it colorful! And agreeing to disagree can sometimes be the very best thing you can do.

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