We all understand the dynamics of discussions really well. We also believe that our opinions about things matter. While most of us might tell ourselves that we give equal importance to the opinion of others, we know it’s not completely true. Heterogeneity can act as a good enough deterrent for discussions, and that’s where the irony lies.
The whole idea of a discussion is to come out and indulge in an exchange of ideas and thoughts that acts as stimulus for our intellect. Is that possible when the viewpoints you get from others just reinforce your own? Of course not! Until and unless you are put on the stand to defend your argument and you are consistently countered by rational arguments of the other side, you’ll be unable to form definitive constructives. I am sure I speak for everyone when I say that most people we encounter are hesitant to enter into a discussion for the fear of it becoming an argument. People have opinions, but they are unable to defend them. And when they are unable to do so, instead of using that as a positive, they further go into their shells and restrict themselves from sharing.
Naturally, an informed opinion is one that deserves due credit, but it is imperative that people give enough encouragement to an uninformed opinion due to the sheer fact that at least there is one! The world renowned economist Amartya Sen in his book ‘The Argumentative Indian’ makes an interesting case for the benefits of heterogeneity and how that particular quality, coupled with discussions, is at the very core of the Indian Story. He talks about how the argumentative tendency of the Indian populace is hugely responsible for upholding the ideals of Democracy and Secularism.
A significant element of any discussion is also the quality of ‘Listening’. This is one quality which is so underrated that it never ceases to amaze me. A discussion falls flat on its face if the participants fail to give due acknowledgement to the other side’s view. And the single factor for determining this is the ability of participants to listen. Not only does listening lead to a fruitful discussion, it also enables rational thought. Listening ultimately translates a discussion to a learning opportunity, and that is its biggest incentive.
While most of us intuitively know all this, I make a case here for us to not only acknowledge, but also practice this. So let’s talk, listen, learn and grow. Together.
Vipul is a member of LSD. He likes to talk about abstract topics. A lot.