Debate Topic: Are debates helpful to thinking?

by

Arm wrestle

“I love argument, I love debate. I don’t expect anyone just to sit there and agree with me, that’s not their job.” – Margaret Thatcher

Do debates help you think through a problem? Short answer: Yes, if approached with the right mindset. There are a multitude of “thinking practices”, which are available for a person to use while they process a problem within their mind. One way to approach a problem of any given topic with multiple viewpoints around it is to consider it a debate. Many would define a debate as a contentious discussion, however I prefer to define it as a dialogue with multiple viewpoints. Therein lies a problem…

A debate can be helpful if you enter into the conversation understanding that there may be multiple perspectives brought to the table. The ultimate goal would be to hear out each perspective, understand how they apply to a given situation and assess which direction to pursue – if not a hybrid solution.

“In all debates, let truth be thy aim, not victory, or an unjust interest.”  – William Penn

But, a debate can be harmful if you enter into the conversation thinking about contention in any way. The negative connotation around this dialogue being an “argument” then leads one to feel as though they need to be defensive of their position as opposed to merely defending their position. The goal should not be to use your proficiency and knowledge to win with a subpar idea, but to discuss, understand, and to determine the best resolution.

“A good leader can engage in a debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing that at the end he and the other side must be closer, and thus emerge stronger. You don’t have that idea when you are arrogant, superficial, and uninformed.” – Nelson Mandela

Unfortunately, we are all human and oftentimes we enter into a debate with our boxing gloves on and prepared to battle. I’ve done it, you’ve done it, but that doesn’t make it productive or right. We should be true leaders and think about the most optimal resolution as opposed to just winning the argument. I think back to a previous blog I wrote (Reward v. Return: Drop the myopic lens) and a similar concept around thinking about leaving a positive legacy and not just focusing on the immediate short-term gain. This kind of legacy-focused thinking could really help level set you when you have the boxing gloves on and are ready to battle; winning the battle may be a short-term gain, so take a step back and consider other viewpoints and the bigger picture.

I have taken on the challenge to remind myself and continually strive to enter into future discussions remembering that it is usually better to debate and not decide than to decide without debating!

 

READ MORE

Shifting Perspectives: 3 Learnings From a 3-Day Training

Shifting Perspectives: 3 Learnings From a 3-Day Training

About a week ago, I completed the second live (virtual) training in the process of becoming a Certified Professional Coach through iPEC. Once again, my mind was blown! It reinforced for me that virtual workshops can, and do, work, and, in a lot of ways, I prefer them...

read more
Finding My Work-Life Balance

Finding My Work-Life Balance

In my previous post, I told the story of how I got back into consulting after becoming a mom. All of the diverse experiences I had during that journey have helped me to find my work-life balance by… Defining Boundaries “Go home,” my first boss said 12 years back —...

read more
How I Got Back to Work After Being a Full-Time Mom

How I Got Back to Work After Being a Full-Time Mom

I Landed My Dream Job Throwback to 2014, I had completed my MBA, landed my dream job as a consultant, and was hoping that my new consulting career would exponentially ramp up my career growth for the next 5 years. This would position me to take on critical decision...

read more
Self-Awareness is Key to Belonging

Self-Awareness is Key to Belonging

In August of this year, as part of our annual company meeting, our team at Thought Ensemble participated in the foundational session of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) training led by Dr. Nika White, IOM, CDE (she/her/hers). One of the most meaningful moments...

read more
Finding Your Organization’s Magic Pixie Dust

Finding Your Organization’s Magic Pixie Dust

It is often said that organizational culture is like a fog — it is all around us; it impacts our ability to see, to move quickly, and to deliver; but we cannot quite put our finger on it. Indeed, some organizations see their culture as a byproduct of operations,...

read more
We’ve Refreshed Our Brand!

We’ve Refreshed Our Brand!

Why have we refreshed our brand, you ask? Well, as we have grown and matured as an organization, we felt that our previous brand elements no longer represented us as well as they could. You see, we founded Thought Ensemble back in 2008 to help companies better compete...

read more
Thought Ensemble’s Purpose — Inspired in 2020

Thought Ensemble’s Purpose — Inspired in 2020

I recently wrote about how company purpose is being tested and inspired by all the events of 2020. This topic is very real for us at Thought Ensemble. We’ve been thinking a lot about what really matters as we’ve navigated the...

read more
How 2020 Is Testing and Inspiring Corporate Purpose

How 2020 Is Testing and Inspiring Corporate Purpose

In August 2019, the Business Roundtable rewrote their statement of corporate purpose. I followed this with significant interest being that I have never forgotten the debates about corporate purpose in business school almost two decades ago. We were taught that the...

read more
Why Purpose-Driven Organizations May Struggle With Change

Why Purpose-Driven Organizations May Struggle With Change

I love working with companies who really want to make a difference, beyond just making money for their shareholders. I mean, making money is fun and all, but it is even more rewarding to join in on a just cause. Plus, as this HBR article explains, companies who have...

read more