This caught my attention because I write and train in Communication Skills, particularly, The Focused Discussion Model. I read a summary of some research done by the Pew Center about humanity’s salvation through communication skills. According to the report: “Political parties are more divided than at any point in the last two decades.”
This report drew some distinctions about today’s use of debates and arguments. The allowed that debate, although it resembles communication, is not communication and doesn’t require communication skills.
Debates were described as sporting events performed for the benefit of spectators. I was surprised that International Debate Education Association, specifies that participants select their side in the debate by a coin toss. This is how an NFL football game is started! So, bringing communication skills to a debate is like bringing a book of poetry to the WWF.
The upshot of all of this is:
• Technical and legal arguments are more formal (and more productive), but everyday argument exists solely for scoring points.
• Cable TV studios want to create winners and losers.
• There is no procedure for deciding the “winner” other than the last standing or the loudest.
My point is that argument should be about using logic, reasoning, or perhaps intimidation to “win.”
Communication is about persuasion and using those skills to increase another person’s receptivity to embracing your idea. You do this partly by modeling your commitment to and passion for an idea by wrapping the idea in compelling language and images. I believe we need more communication skills and less argument.
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