Debate or Persuasion

There is a fine line between being persuasive and being a good debater. When I was a kid I was good at both, but I didn’t know the difference between the two. I saw persuasion as a softer tool, to be tried first. This was used to convince my friends to go on adventures with me.  I saw debate as a stronger tool, a tool for challenging teachers’ rules and talking my way out of the principles office.

At home when I entered debate mode, my father would engage and challenge me. We debated all sorts of things, from the merits of leaving the toilet seat up or down to what time my curfew should be. He didn’t mind how seriously I took debates over trivial issues. My mother however was the opposite; she neither enjoyed these debates nor took them seriously. Rather than debate back, she would simply retreat and her ruling would stand.

I soon realized that entering a “logic shootout” wasn’t always the best way to get my way. Often when I challenged those more powerful than I (teachers, coaches, principle and mother) I was shut down, even when my points were good or my argument was superior.

I realized that sometimes people prefer to be guided to an idea, conclusion or point. People prefer to discover points on their own (or think they did), not have points shoved in their faces.