Conversations are pleasant, discussions are interesting, debates are productive, but arguments are destructive. The difference between debates and arguments lies in whether you are dealing with the sunject at hand or the personalities involved.
Whether it is in your personal or professional life, you will inevitably encounter a difference of opinion. This is not a bad thing. In fact, if you don't frequently encounter a difference of opinion, either you have no opinion, t he people around you have no opinion, or people are are not feeling the freedom to express themselves.
In any event, conversation, discussion, and debate are positive. They can ignite people's passions, their creativity, and bring their best ideas to the table; however, once it descends into an argument, there is a lot to be lost and little, if anything, to be gained.
Often, colleagues are put in a position to express differing opinions. There is a right way and a wrong way to carry on these dialogues.
Here are some rules for keeping your conversation on a positive plane.
Be sure the time is appropriate for a healthy discussion.
Be sure that the setting is conducive to a good conversation. It should take place where all of the relevant parties can comfortably come together, and interruptions should be avoided.
Everyone should agree on the matter to be discussed. Whenever possible, only one subject should be tackled at a time. Everyone should agree on what we are deciding, when the decision meeds to be made, and what factors are involved in coming to a positive resolution.
Only one person should talk at a time. Interruptions are threatening and counterproductive when people are expressing opposite opinions.
Agree that appropriate language will be used, everyone will be treated with respect, and the voice level will not be raised. If someone inadvertently violates this rule, calmly point out and get back to the subject at hand.
Remember, in an argument, there are only losers. In a productive debate or discussion, everyone can win.
As you go through your day today, find ways to include the collective wisdom of those around you by encouraging discussion and avoiding argument.