Mastering the Art of Debate: Insights for Constructive Conversations

By Alexandra Blockton  

What are your thoughts or concerns when having a debate? There are times when debates occur for many different reasons throughout the world. They do not always have to end intensely, like most may think. Participants involved in the debate can express themselves in many ways that can be beneficial to one another, including if they disagree with one another. The article, “For More Productive Debates, Think About What’s Most Important to You,” by Elizabeth Hopper, has multiple reasons on why a person can respectfully voice their opinion while still getting their point across. “According to new research, reflecting on important values may help us engage in more constructive debates,” Hopper said.  

When debating, individuals will often state their opinion on what is important to them, no matter the topic. When an individual disagrees with someone it does not always mean disagreeing with someone means the other person is wrong either. The part of the article that I found to be intriguing was when Hopper wrote about a person taking time to write about their thoughts based on their opinion. Before having a debate, this practice can provide them with the strength to go ahead confidently.  

Hopper said, “Additionally, the participants who wrote about their values reported higher levels of what researchers consider prosocial emotions, such as empathy and gratitude.” Gratitude and empathy were findings reported in the study. A person who does this will alleviate negative emotions about the debate. Such people will feel more confident when expressing their opinions. This can be an advantage as it helps individuals’ distance themselves and avoid taking other opinions personally if the topic is extremely sensitive for them.  

The words people use are also major factors in debates. The proper choice in vocabulary can allow a participant to respectfully convey a point instead of potentially coming off as offensive. “The researchers found that participants who wrote about their values showed more intellectually humble behavior during the debates, based on the types of words they used,” Hopper stated. Being able to disagree without reacting negatively shows professionalism.  

Furthermore, intellectual humility plays a huge role in figuring out the outcome of a debate. When someone can accept that they are incorrect, it shows growth. They will not need validation from others because they have accepted the fact that their opinion was inaccurate. “During the debate, the participants were videotaped, and the researchers analyzed these recordings to measure each participant’s level of intellectual humility,” said Hopper. Additionally, intellectually humble individuals are key players in a debate from both sides. They seek comprehension from others involved in the debate without involving negative feelings among one another. Instead of creating a hasty argument during a debate, humble individuals will admit when they do not know enough about a topic and focus on points they can argue confidently. They may hear questionable information during a debate but will not make accusations without conducting further research for accuracy.  

In conclusion, it is acceptable for people to tell their opinions and have debates with each other. Someone taking ownership of being wrong while letting other participants voice their opinions shows growth. One of the best ways someone can prepare for a debate is by writing things down ahead of time. They can write down what they will be saying, which they may find can be helpful. It will be an excellent way for them to prepare themselves before the debate. Also, it can be wonderful for all participants involved because they can make smart word choices before going into the debate. Someone can find this to be valuable because it will assist them in the debate for a better outcome. It is how opinions are told that affect everyone involved, positively or negatively. Hopper said, “When people think about a value that is important to them, they feel a more stable and coherent sense of self.” 

Link to Article: For More Productive Debates, Think About What’s Most… ( 

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