How To Discuss Ideas Instead of People
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“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” —Eleanor Roosevelt
- This diagram is a useful guide for having discussions.
- The diagram is hierarchical; this means the best strategy is at the top, and the worst is at the bottom.
- You can use it to know when a discussion has gone bad, and it is time to leave it.
- You can use it to encourage yourself and others to have productive discussions.
- The lower levels dominate the Internet.
Diagram Developed: Step One
- Intending to learn is the highest mental state you can bring to a discussion.
- Intending to learn can disarm those who seek conflict to increase their pride.
Diagram Developed: Step Two
- Focusing on a general idea helps to keep the discussion interesting and useful.
- Challenging the opposite or other person’s general idea needs to be done correctly.
- Challenge and refute by providing reasons why the general idea is flawed.
- Challenge and refute by providing evidence (results if you have them) why the general idea is flawed.
Diagram Developed: Step Three
- Focusing on a part of a general idea can only work if there is an agreement to focus on that part.
- Challenging the part of the general idea needs to be done correctly.
- Challenge and refute by providing reasons why some part of the general idea is flawed.
- Challenge and refute by providing evidence (results if you have them) why some part of the general idea is flawed.
Diagram Developed: Step Four
- Sometimes the best way to refute one idea is to propose a better idea.
- However, better ideas require more reasons and various proofs than do objections to the same idea.
- Better ideas require lots of proof, evidence, and reasons.
- If possible, provide a comparison of results using statistics.
- Anecdotal evidence is interesting, but it fails to prove anything.
Diagram Developed: Step Five
- This is the last level of hope for a productive conversation.
- You need to redirect the conversation back to one of the higher levels.
- This level does not have to be negative, but it cannot be productive.
- Expecting that an idea will be better does not make it better.
- Providing anecdotal evidence proves nothing. Learn to use statistics for comparisons.
Diagram Developed: Step Six
- Attacking the form, style, or tone of the idea is not to attack the idea at all.
- This is not a productive or helpful practice.
- This is usually insulting and done to boots the pride of the person who is attacking.
- Often scoffers and mockers stoop to this level using sarcasm or crude humor.
Diagram Developed: Step Seven
- Attacking a person’s authority, character, history, and traits completely avoids the issue of the value of the idea.
- The messenger is not the message.
- Pretend you do not know the source of the idea and face the idea on its own merits.
- Disvaluing the messenger does not disvalue the message.
Diagram Developed: Step Eight
- Attaching a person using insults and name-calling is emotional abuse.
- This is violence and should not be tolerated.
- Leave such conversations if at all possible.
- Never respond in kind, because, to these silly people, that proves they were right.
- This is an ego game, and there are only winners and losers in this game.
#Idea #Not: 2020-08-18
1. The idea about the idea is not the idea.
2. The explanation of the idea is not the idea.
3. The discussion about the idea is not the idea.
4. The comparison of the idea with other ideas is not the idea.
5. The college course, lecture, and textbook on the idea is not the idea.
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