Formal debating comes with its own procedures and rules. These ensure that both sides have an equal opportunity to be heard within a civilized atmosphere. The skill of rhetoric revolves around the ability to think critically, to choose your words wisely, and to present them respectfully. Trying to understand the opponent’s way of thinking (even if only to achieve success in the debate) encourages open-mindedness. For this reason, a good debater can successfully put aside personal opinion and defend both sides of an issue.
Of course, we can’t be expected to follow the rules of formal debate in our daily discourses especially if we are discussing an issue close to our heart. But too often our discourse lacks any critical thinking, wise words, or genuine respect for the other.
The shouting matches that we witness in the media today are the lowest form of debate, if they can be called debate at all. We listen to them on TV and radio and read them in newspapers, magazines, and the internet – especially in letters to the editor and readers`responses. Based on the characteristics of these divisive debates, I wonder if this is the corresponding list of tips. Yes, they are the antithesis to yesterday`s list of dialogue tips. 😉
1. God tucked your ears on the side of your head, but put your mouth front and center. Use it.
2. The goal is to take down your opponent. Use their talk time to strategize your next move.
3. Interrupt, interrupt, and interrupt some more.
4. Learn how to twist your opponent’s words, take them out of context, and then throw them back for a slam-dunk.
5. The issue is black and white. There is no common ground, so there’s no use wasting time looking for it. You are right. They are wrong.
6. The louder and angrier you sound, the better your chance of winning.
7. Use your face to keep up your side of the conversation while the other is talking. Rolling eyes, raised eyebrows, and loud exhalations are especially effective. Learn how to PFFFT with style.
8. You know it all, and the world needs to hear it.
9. Wow them with your ability to pontificate. No need to come up for air. The longer the discourse, the smarter you will appear.
10. It’s all about winning. Don’t stop until the other admits defeat!