Lesson 2.4

Discourse vs Debate vs Arguing

Dive in by watching the video, followed by the key concepts and exercise below:


Key Concepts:


Discourse is an exchange of different ways of thinking

  • It should be low pressure

  • It should truly be about trading different ideas and points of view

  • It involves active listening, and truly seeking to learn and understand

Debate is about sussing out the merits of different ways of thinking

  • Not every idea or point of view is the best, and it is okay to explore and bullet-test ideas—especially if you can keep your discussion from getting personal (more on this later!)

  • Debate works best when you’ve exchanged information and are operating from the same terminology and with a clear topic of debate

Arguing is making a case for something, but the term often puts people on the defense

  • Subtle changes to our vocabulary can help us have productive friction when we make an argument without putting people in a defensive place.

  • Instead of using the words “argue” or “argument,” talk in terms of thinking and theorizing.

  • It’s better to abstract yourself from the argument, so if you’re wrong it’s easier psychologically to change your mind: “My thinking is that…” or “My hypothesis is that…” or “My theory is that…” — these are better than simply “I think that…” because if your point ends up being wrong, you don’t have to be wrong—just your hypothesis.

  • Perhaps best, leave the door open for changing your mind in a painless way by instead saying, “My current hypothesis is that…”