The Art of Discussion And Information Selection

This article will come in two parts and will be different in that rather than the writer taking sole responsibility in forming opinions and coming to conclusions, you as the reader will share the responsibility in coming to conclusions and to provide some substance to the questions posed.

The Art of Discussion

There are some discussions that can leave a person with either a sense of triumph or a sense of loss. In contrast, other discussions leave a person feeling quite satisfied that they may have achieved something.

The former are discussions we see all too often. Person A has an opinion X. Person B has an opinion Y. Person A states his opinion X, person B exchanges one or two pleasantries and then states his opinion Y. After some debate over who is right, one of the persons will submit. Person A may leave feeling triumphant that someone has reinforced his viewpoint. Person B feels aggrieved that their viewpoint has been rejected.

Via this exchange, neither has gained any insight, neither has evolved their opinions. They haven’t even thought about their viewpoint further than the ability to repeat it in a more convincing tone next time. I see this often, an entire thread with people banging away at the keyboard, independent of anybody else’s views, back and forth, over and over. Is this a productive interaction? I don’t think so.

Another type of discussion is seen much less. Person C has a viewpoint based on his experiences, yet he doesn’t cling onto any belief. Person D is the same. Person C states his case. Person D questions some points, they converse. Both are willing to learn so neither person clings onto his previous beliefs. Note that I’m not saying they forget everything they know! Important to note is that if they’re both being honest, they shouldn’t need to. They just don’t restrict their thinking. Without this self-imposed restriction both are free to evolve their ideas based on a previous knowledge of what works. After some deliberating, they may have evolved further insight based on their collective knowledge or at very least gained a thorough understanding of both viewpoints. This is a discussion, a true interaction between two people on a given topic. Good to note at this point is that most successful lifting protocols do converge on more areas than they differ, however human nature being what it is the differences between people are often the focus. This doesn’t just apply to lifting either.

What drives people to be the former or the latter is complicated. It goes much deeper than just training knowledge. Your posts give away a lot about who you are. Personality, psychology, ego, these are all ugly words that are at work here.

In any conversation, in any board across the internet there are posters who strive to learn and interact, they range from the most advanced to rank beginners. Then there are others who want nothing more than to be listened to and the reinforcement of their opinions, it shows.

I’m not saying anything new here. Many people often remark on these types of threads or in private the same thoughts I have expressed here. I just figured it would be useful to verbalise the ideas, so others can identify with them as well.

So what can we do about it? Well the first step is recognising these two types of conversations when you see them!

Take a look at some threads over in the lifting forum right now:

  • See if you can find at least 1-2 that are completely analogous to the first type of conversation I laid out.
  • Then try and find 1-2 from the latter type of conversation. You’ll get a broader selection from the 5-star threads for the latter.

The end result of these type of win/lose conversations aren’t worth the effort for either party or the board in general. The board loses out as people get irritable, discouraged and we barely dig in to good topics. The individual then feels derision from the others. Not knowing the mistakes they’re making they end up blaming the other person or the board.

Fortunately there is an alternative. Most people on this board genuinely want to talk and discuss freely if you give them the chance to do so. Asking questions and giving the other guys a chance isn’t always easy, but it’s the best way to understand another viewpoint.

If after that you truly feel the other person has no interest in discussing with you, then ignore them. It isn’t worth the hassle. Eventually you’ll get a good feel for the conversations you will want to take part in and the ones you’d rather not.

Information Selection

On a similar note, writing style and the ability to select information is another topic worth looking at. When people are enthusiastic about an approach they tend to talk about them in strong tones; giving the bottom line, so to speak. If these folks are newbies then readers tend to roll their eyes. If the guy with the “rep” makes the same point then readers shut off their brain and happily nod along.

The reader will turn off their brain if it is an area which interests them or if the writer shares the same view or writes in a way which is accessible. Writing styles influence us more than they should. With all of this, a lot of garbage is passed.

A couple of questions to end on:

  • To what extend should a responsible author compensate for reader deficiencies?
  • To what extent should we as readers become more active in filtering and selecting what we read?
  • 3