“Discussion is an exchange of knowledge; argument is an exchange of ignorance”

That comment is pondered by Philosiblog on a post of the same name.

As an accountant by attitude and training, I have to be intentional on applying ‘soft’ skills. Like not arguing. And listening.

Crunching numbers is so easy. Soft skills? Well … that’s why I enjoy Philosiblog. The discussions there get a person thinkin’.

The above discussion reminds us in an argument there’s not a lot of information sharing or learning going on. Odds on changing another person’s opinion or perspective are nil.

Here are just a few thoughts from the post on why a discussion is better than an argument:

However, if you listen, you can both better understand where they are coming from, and better rebut their points. Consider the Socratic Method, where you have to listen to their answer to better lead them into contradicting themselves. This is not easily done in an argument, but it is a perfect method for a discussion.

That means you have a shot at changing someone’s mind if you can discuss it. Forget it if it devolved into an argument.

Listening also provides you with a chance to learn something. Even if you disagree with their premise, there may be some interesting things brought up as the discussion unfolds. I can’t count the number of discussions I have had where something shiny first distracted me, and then educated me.

Or, you can learn from a discussion.

Here’s some practical advice:

If someone starts an argument, you probably have half a minute at most to defuse the situation. After that, they’ve got up a head of steam, and you’ll be talking to a brick wall. A very loud and animated brick wall. 

Hmmm. You have about 30 seconds to de-escalate before you are talking to a loud brick wall that won’t hear a word you say. No chance to learn or change minds.

Good stuff.

Check out the full post. Found some great reminders for me.

2 thoughts on ““Discussion is an exchange of knowledge; argument is an exchange of ignorance””

  1. An argument is where an arguer tries to convince arguee he or she needs to change something, usually a belief, intention or practice. The arguer raacess to be the first to be in the position of “in the right” and the arguee is thrust into the position of “in the wrong.”

    No human being truly likes being in the wrong. Interestingly, the arguee (in the wrong) usually tries to remedy the situation by knocking the arguer off the top of the hill. An arguee rarely ever changes belief, intention or practice.

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