Discussion: when 2 or more people have a respectful conversation about a topic in which all who are a part of the conversation are able to share their views and opinions, as well as are willing to listen to the views and opinions expressed by the others.
Talk. Listen. Respect.
It is a simple concept when you break it down. But if we are honest, it’s not always that simple. Discussions can be more difficult than we think.
Why? What makes having a discussion more difficult than it should be, and what can we do to ensure we are having good discussions? Glad you asked. I want to share 5 things that I believe make discussions more difficult and what we can do to avoid them so we are able to have good discussions.
Going into defense mode
One of the quickest ways to stop a discussion is to go into defense mode. It is a very childish and selfish move to make…it’s like saying that unless everyone agrees with what we say, we will just start defending ourselves rather than listening to what others have to say.
However, going into defense mode is also a very easy thing for many of us to do. It honestly comes natural…we want to defend ourselves and/or our views and opinions when we feel threatened, attacked, or wrongly questioned by others.
To avoid this, we have to act mature within the discussion, and not allow ourselves to focus on only what we want to say. In a discussion, there will be differing views and opinions shared, and someone might question what we say. But that’s not a bad thing…it’s just part of a discussion between people who think differently. Be very careful not to react in defense, because that will quickly end the discussion.
Forgetting the old “two ears, one mouth” adage
A discussion is where multiple people are able to talk. A lecture is where one person talks and the rest listen.
Launching into a lecture when we are sharing our views and opinions will end the discussion right there. People might not get up and leave, they will probably sit for a while and listen…or at least appear to be listening. But if there was supposed to be a discussion, and it was turned it into a lecture, I can almost guarantee that others are tuning the one doing the lecturing out more than they are listening to them.
To avoid this, we need to train ourselves to follow these steps: Step 1: Listen. Step 2: Listen some more. Step 3: Then talk. If we have a tendency to talk long, we need to understand that following that tendency is not good for having a discussion, so we need to work on listening more than talking. Don’t become the person who pulls a filibuster in a discussion.
Cutting in to leave your comment
In a discussion, everyone who is a part of the conversation needs to be able to share. When someone in the discussion decides to cut the person who is sharing off so they can share their thought about what is being said, that will quickly being the discussion to a halt.
Cutting someone off to leave our comment is not fully listening to the person who is sharing. It’s having the idea that “my comment is more important than what they are sharing, so I’m going to interject and share my comment now.” It’s cutting the other person off while they are sharing, and that is rude.
To avoid this happening in a discussion, everyone in the conversation must resolve themselves to allow the person who is speaking to share completely. It’s a respect issue to be completely honest. Everyone must be willing to respect everyone else in the discussion by allowing them to speak. Wait until someone is done speaking before you leave your comment. (it’s also respectful to not take up the whole time talking…see above)
Having a one-way street mentality
We all know that person who thinks they are always right. We know people like that, and we all try to avoid them. That’s because it is not fun to talk with or be around that kind of person. They push people away with their “one-way street” mentality (no other options, only one way it can go), rather than acknowledging that others have different views or perspectives that should be listened to and even considered as well.
There is actually no way to have a good discussion with a person who thinks and acts this way. They won’t allow a discussion to happen, because if anyone shares a different view or opinion than their own, they decide to either not listen, pull a filibuster and dominate the conversation, or cut in constantly and share their thoughts. In all 3 cases, the discussion has died.
To avoid this, we have to be willing to see things through the eyes of others…we have to begin to respect that others have differing views, and even try to see things from their point of view as well. That doesn’t mean we have to adopt their point of view or agree with them, but it will give us an appreciation for them and where they are coming from, which leads to being willing to listen.
Ignoring the golden rule
There are those in a discussion who will not listen, who will cut in, who will lecture, etc. There are those who will treat others with disrespect rather than respect. That’s just how it will be.
However, if we decide to do the same thing back to them, it makes us no better. To treat someone with disrespect because they are being disrespectful, to not listen to someone because they didn’t listen, or to go into defense mode because they are in defense mode does not help anything…it will only cause more problems.
To avoid this, we must decide that we will do the right thing, even if others don’t. We must decided to treat others the way we’d want them to treat us, even when they are not treating us that way. Show others how to be respectful and listen by doing it yourself.
These 5 things to avoid when having a discussion can apply to multiple situations. Having discussions with your friends, having a discussion as part of your small group at church, having a discussion at work, and even having a discussion with those who disagree with you and you with them.
We all need to learn to be better at having discussions, because there are many discussions that will happen and need to happen in this life.