Dialogue or debate?

Jun 01, 2023
Image by LinkedIn Sales Navigator from Pexels

I hear people using the terms dialogue and debate interchangeably.

They’re not the same.

In a dialogue, you:

  • Work collaboratively toward a common understanding of the issue, even if you don’t reach an agreement
  • Identify areas of common ground
  • Listen carefully to understand one another
  • Enlarge your understanding
  • Unpack assumptions so you can check incorrect understandings of one another
  • Potentially change your mind about something
  • Begin from a place of mutual respect and concern

In a debate, you:

  • Engage in a competition to prove the accuracy and superiority of your position
  • Want to “win” the debate, such as with an acknowledgment or conclusion that your position is better
  • Listen carefully to find flaws in the other’s argument and give counterarguments
  • Affirm your own pre-existing understanding or position
  • Focus on undermining the opposing idea rather than the relationship with that person

Having a dialog can preserve relationships and problem-solve, whereas debate can create resentment and more conflict.


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