Eight Rules for a Civilized Argument

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We need to learn how to argue again. What I mean is we need to learn how to argue in a civilized and respectful way again.  There are a lot of ideas out there. Some of them are good and some are not so good. We need to bring back the civility that goes along with legitimate debate, so that we might flesh out ideas to measure their merit and their pitfalls.

Arguing can be a very good and beneficial exercise that helps people come to better ideas for their lives.  Unfortunately, arguing has taken a bad rap as it has become synonymous with words like quarreling, wrangling, haggling and bickering.  Better synonyms for a good argument would be debate or discussion.

Eight rules for a civilized debate or argument:

  1. Approach the discussion with an attitude that your point of view is not perfect.
  2. Determine that you are going to learn something from those who hold a different view than your own.
  3. Debates should not be about persons or personalities, but about ideas.
  4. Speak in respectful tones and show respect for others with your body language. Rebuttals should be done with due respect.
  5. Knowingly allowing distortions or misrepresentations of the other side’s views is out of line. To clarify views questions should be asked, ambiguities should be clarified and alternative interpretations and possibilities suggested.
  6. Allow for further research when one side has an idea that will shine additional light on their point of view and reconvene at a future time.
  7. Agree to disagree for the time being. Who knows how time might influence our perspective.
  8. Always remember that you are responsible for your response and that an inappropriate response hinders the acceptance of the points you are presenting.

So get out there and argue for your good ideas and show others how to do it with respect and civility.

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