What are you like in face to face debate?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by iBlue, Jun 30, 2009.

  1. iBlue macrumors Core


    Mar 17, 2005
    London, England
    I am curious about how some of our more seasoned and fervent debaters behave when faced with a disagreement. Do you go right for the jugular or do you toy with them for a while before bringing the ax down, or are you a bit more restrained and patient?

    I began to wonder today when a born-again approached me in the park. There I was, laying in the sun enjoying the rarity and reading a book when a cheery-looking old man walked up and asked me if I'd ever received a love letter before. Thinking that maybe he's not just a pervert or quoting David Lynch I said 'no' inquisitively as he handed me a sealed envelope. I didn't realize it was an opening line to a hearty helping of Christianity.

    Determined not to let this bother me I listened patiently and courteously asked a couple questions, which seemed to stump and frustrate him. I even surprised myself with how not snarky I was. In the end I simply said that although I have studied it sufficiently myself, I am not a believer and fear isn't enough reason for me to deny all the logical yet exquisite evidence to the contrary. He expressed his appreciation for my politeness about it because he said he's had some really awful responses such as water being thrown at him and being thoroughly sworn at, etc. He then walked off muttering to himself.

    He seemed like a nice chap and I didn't want to be rude to him and I found it rather sad that he'd been met with abuse for this. But really, what was it about me sitting in the sun reading that gave off the impression that I wanted to be preached at? Sun worshippers are probably not his best audience anyway.

    Oh, and the "letter" he gave me is a compilation of various bible passages. After I read it I said "I am reading Dracula, I bet I could compile something pleasant and change the message entirely by using random contextless sentences." He seemed amused by that but I decided not to push the context issue. I just wanted to enjoy my sun time and read my vampire book.

    Other than the powerful lesson of "never put away your iPod/tool of antisocial behaviour.", from this little event I have also learned that at least some of the time I am a lot more chilled about disagreements in person than I may be on the internet.
    How about you?

    (Attached, the "love letter")

    Attached Files:

  2. MacDawg macrumors Core


    Mar 20, 2004
    "Between the Hedges"
    One thing it took me a long time learn... "you never lose by being gracious"

    I am still learning :eek:

    Woof, Woof - Dawg [​IMG]
  3. iShater macrumors 604


    Aug 13, 2002
    Like my forum-self, I am patient and try to avoid direct confrontation, because you will never win an argument by raising your voice. But my wife might disagree with my view of my debating self.
  4. themoonisdown09 macrumors 601


    Nov 19, 2007
    Georgia, USA
    I don't mind the people that politely hand out brochures (or love letters in your case), but I can't handle the ones that stand on the street corner with a giant cross and say that everyone is going to hell.

    The yearly festival that happens in our town has some of those street preachers and it's very irritating. They hold signs up saying something like "Gays, Jehovah's Witnesses, Shriners, Satanists, and Mormons are all going to hell". I'm pretty sure crazy "Christians" are a reality, but sometimes, I just think they're doing it to get a reaction. You always see them surrounded by kids who are yelling and harassing them.

    Anyways, to the point, I'm more of a chilled debater. I only get mad and start yelling at the ones that are rude in the first place.
  5. Unspoken Demise macrumors 68040

    Unspoken Demise

    Apr 16, 2009
    I got accosted by a Jahova's Witness walking to my mailbox in my apartment complex. She was really nice, and I listened to everything she was saying and she handed me some literature. I never have the heart to throw it away. Its still in my kitchen. I respect that she feels strongly enough about something to commit to it and put herself out there in hopes of making a difference.

    I think it was funny though, as she got out of her car, she walked over to me and said "I saw you walking, and thought I'd"...etc Jahova's witness beliefs.
    Yes, because I'm walking here, I obviously want and need your teachings. :rolleyes: She was so nice though, so I listened and smiled and noded.

    To iBlue: You're very nice to be polite to that man. :) Goodness knows he doesn't need more rude people throwing water on him. It's sad to know people can act that way to another person just trying to share love and peace. :(

    Oh my debate qualities: Listen to their side; TRY to not interject until they are done, but I have a tendencey to talk over people when I dont mean to. I got that trait from my father. :eek: My girlfriend hates it. I'm trying to work on it.

    I do try my hardest to see their point. Unless its dribble. Like gays are harming children. :rolleyes: That one will never win with me.
  6. Rt&Dzine macrumors 6502a


    Oct 8, 2008
    I'm not one of the fervent debaters, but I'll respond anyway.

    Something about me has always attracted religious types coming up and trying to convert me. My friends would joke that I attracted all the weirdos. In the old days I would sometimes debate them, but I was rarely rude unless they got aggressive. Jehovah's Witnesses come to our house a lot now. I feel sorry for them so I'm polite.

    I try to keep religious or political debate to a minimum with neighbors or acquaintances.

    EDIT: I had a strange thought. Maybe I have debated a neighbor or acquaintance without realizing it . . . here on MacRumors.
  7. MacNut macrumors Core


    Jan 4, 2002
    It depends on the debate. If I know I am right I will go full force from the start. If it starts as a civil conversation then I am more likely to hear the other side.
  8. leekohler macrumors G5


    Dec 22, 2004
    Chicago, Illinois
    Me too. Although I do lose patience if the other side doesn't represent their argument with facts.
  9. ZiggyPastorius macrumors 68040


    Sep 16, 2007
    Berklee College of Music
    I am generally pretty calm during debate, and though I like to believe my linguistic skills are relatively refined, I have the major issue of being bad at speaking. A lot of times, I'll choke up while getting in arguments (kind of like people do when they're speaking publicly). Usually I can remain calm through the duration of a debate, except in certain instances. I've learnt not to argue with my grandpa for this very reason, because his arguments are always "That's not true. You only think that because you read it in liberally-biased media" whenever I bring up a point contrary to his. Even if I bring up well-known conservatives that bolster my point, he simply says that's not true. Then he pulls crap out of his ass (a lot of times, I believe it's made up, because I search around on Google for his point and I find nothing even remotely similar), or tells me how Fox news disagrees with me. I could bring up wikipedia, encyclopaedia Britannica, CNN, BBC, ABC, Der Spiegel, 100 newspapers from around the country and a history book all that back me up, and he still says "Dustin, Fox News doesn't have a political bias, they just tell it how it is, all the time." Yeah, okay.

    Anyways, to answer the question, I am generally calm, but not as well-spoken as I would be on here or in an essay, but things like the above frustrate me to the point where I might get upset and just cut the discussion short. I enjoy arguments, though, and there is a quote (that will actually be a paraphrase, because I just heard it somewhere and don't remember the exact wording...) that I really enjoy, that says "Arguing is the most respectful thing you can do with someone. It shows you are willing to take their position seriously."
  10. it5five macrumors 65816


    May 31, 2006
    New York
    I just usually avoid confrontation if I can. When I see the Christians on campus handing out their "literature" I just pretend like I'm taking a phone call or something so they won't bother me. If I get caught without pretending like I'm on the phone, I just usually tell them I have a bus/class to get to.
  11. DELLsFan macrumors 6502a


    Jan 6, 2009
    I generally avoid confrontation and usually keep my opinions to myself in public and at work. It's generally not a good thing for Non-Profit organization staff to opine on religion or politics amongst existing or potential constituents / donors. :D

    Now at home or with friends, I think I'm quite adept with my listening as well as speaking abilities. Unfortunately, there are too many "debaters" that lack the former. I can hold my own - but have no patience for those who won't listen or give ME any chance to rebut.
  12. SLC Flyfishing Suspended

    SLC Flyfishing

    Nov 19, 2007
    Portland, OR
    I'm very polite and patient in person. But I rarely have open disagreements with people either.

    The way I see it, I come on here to debate issues and defend my opinions. But the rest of my daily life isn't always an appropriate venue for having arguments so I don't.

    I'm a really easy going guy in real life!

  13. DiamondMac macrumors 68040


    Aug 11, 2006
    Washington, D.C.
    I always find that the arguments are much more civil

    People don't have the balls to say most of the bad stuff to peoples faces so they either say it nicely or change their story.
  14. hulugu macrumors 68000


    Aug 13, 2003
    quae tangit perit Trump
    That's a pretty good lesson to take to heart.

    I try to be, but sometimes my better angels are somewhere taking a nap.

    I just counter by making up my own, it confuses people. That and the prodigious use of fake dates, made up cultures, and figures made from whole cloth.

    Then I throw things.
  15. Desertrat macrumors newbie

    Jul 4, 2003
    Terlingua, Texas
    I don't figure anybody loses anything by being courteous and polite. I'm basically a happy and friendly sort, so I tend to cut slack in stray encounters--for a while, anyway.

    I don't like anybody to try proselytyzing on me, whether politics or religion. I figured out my general stance many decades ago. As far as religion, even at my age I'm not figuring on cramming for finals. :)
  16. coolwater macrumors 6502a


    Jun 8, 2009
    It all depends who you have as your opponent. Sometimes, it's not worth anything to even start the debate if your opponent is not worthy enough. I've learned not to waste my time on useless debates especially face to face.

    However, when you have a truly worthy opponent, then, the debate can be very fun and enlightening.
  17. Iscariot macrumors 68030


    Aug 16, 2007
    I'm as uncompromising in real life as I am on the forums.
  18. OutThere macrumors 603


    Dec 19, 2002
    I have friends on both sides of various political fences so I patiently ignore little jabs and snide comments, however I have a short fuse when someone takes it too far. I do not, however, get angry and irrational...I find that the adrenaline rush of anger, raising my voice and talking faster helps me think more clearly and make better points than I would otherwise.

    The last time I got into a really heated political debate was maybe 6 weeks ago over dinner with friends. One friend—who is a big fan of Rush Limbaugh—had been making little stupid comments about Obama for weeks and finally said something really stupid about how government healthcare would ruin the country. I got mad, loud and tore him to shreds. It's great having a debate about stuff that you spend all day reading about for class with someone whose only news source is rushlimbaugh.com. We were almost yelling at each other until I spit a few of the best lines I've ever had in a political argument and left. Apparently he admitted that I was right to some other people later on (though never to me :p).

    I've told my friends that I will only get into a real argument with them when I'm really sure of what I'm talking about...but they never listen. ;) I also have a lot of fun letting people dig themselves into holes either contradicting themselves or spouting bulls*** then piping up with a great one liner. I tend to sit in the back of my polisci classes listening to debates and dropping the occasionally bombshell that really gets people going.
  19. mscriv macrumors 601


    Aug 14, 2008
    Dallas, Texas
    Wow OutThere, the tone of humility in your post is deafening. With confidence like that it would be an honor to verbally joust with you and thus I challenge you to a debate! Let's go big and take on something serious like the greatest Kool-Aid flavor in history or the impact of toothpicks on society. It will be epic. :D

    As far as how I am in personal debate. Well, my mom always thought I would be a lawyer and she swears I could argue with a stop sign and win. This stems from the fact that I was an outspoken teen who never backed down from an argument. However, I have matured over time and being a therapist I am professionally trained in active listening, non-verbal communication, and various forms of debate/discussion/interview. Does this make me the ultimate verbal pugilist, a definite and resounding no! :( Just ask my wife.

    The truth is I tend to debate/argue differently depending upon my relationship with the person on the other side of the discussion. I am the most patient and understanding person when working with a client, stranger, acquaintance, or general friend. However, with very close friends and family I can become more aggressive or intense if I do not keep myself in check. It's like I expect more out of them. In truth it's my problem and I shouldn't take these special people for granted. I'm working on it and have made some pretty big improvements over the past few years.

    One of the best things I learned in my training about this topic is to ask yourself "is it worth it?" when it comes to disagreements or debates. First of all, are you and the other person open minded about the discussion and therefore engaging in the argument will provide an opportunity for mutual growth? Second, what is more important to you winning the debate or building a relationship with your opposition? Keeping this in mind has served me well.

    Great question iBlue. :)
  20. gotzero macrumors 68040

    Jan 6, 2007
    Mid-Atlantic, US
  21. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004

    Most people tend to mellow with age and whereas I often argued with people until the cows came home in my twenties and thirties, a family trait I guess, I don't usually bother these days. If it's important to me, especially if it's work-related or carries a lot of personal weight, I'll enter directly into the heart of the matter as I see it. To my way of thinking, clarity of position and brevity of interaction is more important than negotiating through and dancing around points by peeling off layers of qualifiers, shifting feelings and bruised egos.

    If it's not important, then I tend to cut people off or walk away before we get to that point... but if I'm engaged, I try to ask questions of people to sound out their positions, giving them space to reveal their thinking so I can parse out their meaning... because on the surface, words often don't mean they what they say.

    I suspect that for most, including me, forum jousting is sport... point-scoring to pass the time. Bit like how the Aussies play sport; in play they're mean, off the field they're your best mates. Compartmentalising the person from their argument or their actions.

    In the case of your Christian guy and those circumstances, I would have asked him to please leave me alone as soon as he approached. Regardless of whoever they are and what they're selling, they're still hucksters, invading your space and coming at you with oblique disarming approaches to catch you off guard.

    I disagree. You can sometimes lose your valuable time by being dragged into the weeds in the first place. Trolling isn't something that only happens in the written word on internet forums.

    Sometimes before opening one's mouth, it's just as valuable to recognise why you're arguing with this person, examining your own motives and needs by trying to understand why it's vital for you to be shown or proven to be right — especially in front of others — or why it's important to you in trying to change someone's mind. A kind of preliminary soul-searching before choosing your battles, I guess, so that you understand what ground your own feet are on and what you're trying to achieve before you set out in the beginning. A wasted journey is often more frustrating than not bothering to set out in the first place.
  22. MacDawg macrumors Core


    Mar 20, 2004
    "Between the Hedges"
    I agree with your thoughts, but I don't think being gracious has to mean being passive or bullied, or even drawn into a quicksand of argument.

    Woof, Woof - Dawg [​IMG]
  23. MegaMillions macrumors regular

    Feb 1, 2009
    I'm generally pretty contained. My family never stop talking, so I let them ramble on and on, and then I quietly and politely inform them of some fact that throws a wrench in their argument.

    On the other hand, I can also have my outbursts. Like when my girlfriend and my dad had this idea to start a "party planning" business, which was actually a "party entertainment" business, but they insisted on calling it "party planning." That ticked me off, and I passionately explained what a "party planner" is to them, not politely, and to no avail either.

    Or when my dad said that when John Williams writes a score, he just sits down at a keyboard, plays, and the computer writes out the ENTIRE 50+ instrument score, with articulations, dynamics, time signature changes, etc. I wasn't contained in my debate with him about that.
  24. paddy macrumors 6502a


    Jun 25, 2005
    I think I'm pretty blunt. I don't have time for people who dodge around the issue and try to be all nice and delicate about important issues, I prefer them to be blunt back with me. And when the argument is all said and done I've no time for pettiness! ;)
  25. opinioncircle macrumors 6502a


    May 17, 2009
    Well, for all I know, I like to debate for the sake of the debate. I mean it's always interesting to get in an intelligent discussion with someone, just to get to know the other side of the issue and their opinion.

    However, I believe it's important to be cold blooded and quickly adaptable regarding what the other say. If they go crazy, then you should probably have strong arguments and (additionally) point out the attitude. Not only you'll get on the nerves but you also dismantle the arguments of your opponent.

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