You should never state, "in my opinion." That weakens whatever you are saying. Unless you are presenting facts or statistics, whatever you are saying is obviously your opinion.
Let me just state right off the bat: This is not me preaching from a soapbox. I'm guilty of everything I'm about to mention in this post.
I enjoy a good debate. But oftentimes, largely due to my character (I tend to be a polarizing person) a debate I'm having with someone will sour. For instance, this morning I was having a debate with somebody. It started off pleasant enough, but by the end of it...
Put it this way: I probably won't ever talk to the person I was debating with again, and they'll probably never talk to me again. I'm not going to call out that person or link to that debate, because that would be violating G@G terms and conditions (not to mention, I said some stupid shit.)
Needless to say, that debate was productive and caused stress to both parties involved. Maybe I was in the wrong, maybe they were in the wrong. Doesn't matter much. I'm fairly sure both of us felt shitty after that exchange.
And hey, maybe it just wasn't meant to be. Maybe we just have two opposing personalities. Who knows. Maybe any conversation we had would have soured.
Anyways, instead of leaving that debate feeling angry and pissed off, I decided instead to analyze the debate and see where it soured. Based on that, and general knowledge, I have compiled some things you should never do during a debate that I will now share with you.
1) Don't keep playing if you're in checkmate
Have you ever played chess and you end up doing something stupid and the person you're playing against gets you in checkmate? But instead of conceding defeat you sit there for twenty minutes (well, hopefully not twenty but at least a couple) analyzing the board, not wanting to believe you've lost. And then you see a way out of checkmate and you say "that's not checkmate, see I can go here" and they point out another piece and that won't work either. It fucking sucks.
I've played chess games where I've lost and I've done that and I've played chess games where the other person lost and they've done that. At a certain point, there is no point in looking any further because you lost. You. Lost.
If your entire argument hinges on a particular factoid or piece of data and you don't believe that piece of data exists and it actually does and the other person makes you aware of it and you still want to keep arguing, that's playing when you're in checkmate. That happened to me earlier. I didn't have all the information. When presented the information I didn't have my point was nonexistent. I kept debating anyways. Playing when in checkmate.
Certainly in a debate it's good to consider all possible options and to question the data and statistics. But if you are flat out wrong, just admit you are flat out wrong and concede defeat. Much like a game of chess, you can't win every debate.
2) Don't bring up your intelligence, IQ, accomplishments or any other extraneous information
This is how you sound.
Even saying the words "I am intelligent" can be a big mistake in a debate setting. Because if you say "I am intelligent" to a person you are debating that person hears "you are not intelligent" and then that person brings up all the ways in which they are actually more intelligent and then you debate the credibility of intelligence tests. This can go on for hours.
Unless you are debating who is more intelligent (don't, that's a stupid pointless debate) intelligence doesn't matter (certainly, intelligence helps you in a debate, but just because you are more intelligent doesn't mean you win the debate). Going back to my chess anology, if somebody had me in checkmate and I said "yeah, but my IQ is 157" that wouldn't change the fact that the other person had me in checkmate.
A less intelligent person can win a given debate due to mistakes on the other person's part. So unless you want to get into a debate about who is more intelligent, a continuous debate in which neither side concedes defeat, avoid mentioning accomplishments and intelligence. Those don't impress the person you are debating with, and come off as an attack.
3) Don't condescend
Is much as I hate to admit it, I do this a lot myself. I define words or clarify things that don't need clarifying. Sometimes I do it purposely, but most of the time I do it on accident treating the person I am debating with as an idiot who knows nothing.
When writing an informative essay, this is a good approach. When debating, this is a horrible approach. If you're ever debating with someone always assume that person knows more, not less. Even if you use a word that they don't know the meaning of, they can figure it out in the context of a sentence. Unless they ask you, don't define anything. If you think they may not know the meaning of the word, make sure to structure your sentence in a way that makes the meaning abundantly clear.
Nobody likes to feel stupid, and if the person you are debating with feels stupid, they will undoubtedly lash out at you. Treat the person you're talking to as just as intelligent, even if you don't think they are. This will make them more likely to keep debating with you and keep the debate from devolving into "I'm smarter then you."
Also, try to avoid using sarcasm and emojis. That can rub people the wrong way. I know because I've done it and been on the receiving end, and neither felt particularly good.
4. See the big picture; don't nitpick
if you can figure out what this picture means let me know, because I am stumped. Is it just a picture of someone looking at a big picture. Or does the person not realize the furniture is missing?
In my entire life I've taken one personality test. According to this test I am a detailed thinker but not infrequently I fail to see the big picture. At the time I disagreed with it- at the time I was much younger and didn't want to believe I had any weaknesses. Looking back on it, this test was extremely accurate. Because I so much wasn't seeing the big picture that I didn't even realize what the big picture was (if that makes any sense.)
Not infrequently I tend to focus on one tiny little detail or point instead of looking at the entire post or the whole of what someone is trying to say. The result of doing this; I end up looking stupid.
To be honest, I'm not sure if that has to do with seeing the big picture or not. Like I said, I struggle with big picture thinking.
5. Consider their point of view
If there's any downtime during the debate, take a second and imagine arguing from their point of view and what points you would bring up.
Maybe just maybe an argument will occur to you that supports their case that they haven't presented. In that case, you can find common ground with the debater and there is no winner or loser because both of you won and both of you lost a little.
6) Research carefully- don't just pull facts and statistics out of thin air
I can't tell you how many times I've done this. I assume something about a certain topic something that seems like common sense to me, don't do any research at all to confirm my assumptions and end up being entirely wrong.
Anything you say in a debate can be used against you. So choose your words carefully. Don't say never, always, or everybody because those are usually just exaggerations and will likely be challenged by the person you are debating.
7) Make the other person feel good
Expanding on a point I made earlier; make the other person feel good in some way. Make the other person feel smart. Have them explain something you already know about. They'll enjoy knowing something you don't and that will make them more willing to debate. Might sound kind of stupid, but try it sometime- you'll be amazed at how well it works. If they use an obscure word you're fairly sure you know the definition to, ask anyways. And besides, maybe you'll learn something new.
And if you don't know the definition of a word, ask. Don't assume that they will, but you can. Like I said earlier, they probably won't ask and they'll just pretend they know what a certain word means. But you can be honest and ask them. This eliminates the possibility of you being wrong.
8) Anticipate their response
If you can anticipate how the person you are debating with is going to respond you have more time to structure and form an argument. Listen to them while they are responding, but if you see it heading down familiar road, be ready to respond. If possible, when speaking try to think about how they are going to respond to each point so you already have a counterargument to their point.
Going back to my earlier point though, don't say I already know how you're going to respond. I do this all the time and it is not only ineffective, it makes the other person feel uncomfortable. And, like I said before, don't condescend. You especially shouldn't say this because rarely do you actually know how they are going to respond. You might guess correctly sometimes, but other times you might be flat out wrong.
9. Poke holes in your own arguments
In this case, the argument is a delicious pound cake
Needless to say, in any debate you will be poking holes in the other person's arguments. However, instead of just poking holes in the other person's argument, try poking holes in your own.
This has to do with momentum. If you poke holes in your own argument and come up with a response (if you don't, see different POV section) you'll be prepared. Plus, if they poke holes in your argument, you are on the defense. If you poke holes in your own argument you are still on the offense and even more so because you're not just noticing flaws in the other person's argument, you're noticing flaws in your own.
Final Point: DON'T FLOOD
Wait for the other person to respond before adding on. Don't use big words to try to throw the other person off. Don't overwhelm the person with information or facts and statistics.
The goal is to win the debate fairly. The goal isn't to have the other person quit because they feel overwhelmed.
As someone who enjoys debating, I enjoyed putting this together. Hopefully you enjoy reading it and find it helpful in some way. Comment below what you thought of this. Peace out.