Discussions: Yes, Arguments: No

Bharat Mahan

Some of us use these two words ‘Arguments’ and ‘Discussion’ interchangeably. Both involve individuals talking with one another and telling what they think, feel, understand about a particular situation or a subject. But according to me there is a lot of difference between these two words. I personally feel comfortable when discussion is going on and I feel quite uncomfortable when a polite discussion degenerates into arguments. According to me discussion is always better than arguments because arguments are always given to prove ‘Who is Right’ while discussion happens to find out ‘What is Right’.

Arguments mean a statement or series of statements for or against something normally used in the legal profession. An advocate argues his/her case before the judge to prove that his/her client is right. S/He gives proofs and tries to persuade the judge in a debate. So I have no problem when advocates give their arguments in the court of law. But our office, industry, institution or even our home is not the court. So any argument at such places will mean an angry dispute or strong disagreement. What is the need of such high pitched verbal disputes. And I am sure you see TV debates also where all the participants just shout their own arguments and nobody is anyway better informed at the end of such debates.

So arguments mean two or more people yelling at each other or raising their voices to give their opinions. The husband and wife are normally seen to have loud arguments in most of the households world over on very petty matters. The differences could be as simple as the menu for the evening dinner. Or the evening dress to be worn for the party. In most of the cases, husband and wife start with a very polite discussion but soon it turns into heated arguments. The same thing happens among colleagues in a company where the interests of the two individuals clash.

Remember that discussion is very important. It must happen wherever two intelligent individuals with the basic wisdom meet. There is bound to be difference of opinion. The word ‘Discussion’ has a much more positive feel about it. It means the readiness of the two individuals to get to know the truth. Discussion doesn’t mean that you have to win and the other has to lose in the debate. Discussion means that you put yourself in the shoes of the other party and see things from his/her angle also instead of having a rigid stand.

The definition of word ‘discussion’ is similar to ‘argument’ because it also involves presenting ideas, information or opinions. However, during ‘discussion’ between two or more people, there is no place for angry and heated exchange of verbal communications. Discussion means talking in a polite, humble, conversational and reasonable manner with other people. One can be equally assertive and firm during the discussion but one should keep an open mind to listen to the other party and analyse his/her view and be ready to change your own stand if you find the other party is correct.

In fact, let there be plenty of discussion between husband and wife to decide where to go for holidays or which new car should be bought or who all should be invited for the birthday bash or the marriage anniversary party. These polite discussions bring harmony and bring the individuals closer. During such discussions both the parties can try to be good listeners and try to learn more and more from the other party. So a discussion is usually an informal and friendly situation where two or more people share and listen to the ideas or opinions of each other and both gain from such discussions. The time spent on such discussions is not at all time waste but the individuals gain and also the organizations gain from such discussions.

The official meetings should resort to discussions only. Let there be discussions about the future marketing strategy or about the launch of new products. All counter views to the proposed strategy should also be heard, analysed and then accepted or rejected purely on the merit of the case and not based on the loud arguments given by some one individual. Some people have the habit of bulldozing their way in such official meetings through their high pitched loud arguments. Many times, the sober participants give in to such loud arguments during such heated discussions. Such argumentative people are not ready to listen to any other opinion that does not match with their scheme of things. Such people do irreparable damage to the organization and it is the duty of other responsible people to keep a check on such argumentative people.

So when do we call a conversation: ‘Argument’ or ‘Discussion’? I will say it depends on the situation and how the conversation happens. If the talk is in an angry tone and on top of the voice with the parties being upset with each other or not willing to listen to the other’s point, it is an argument. However, if the tone of conversation is polite, rational and reasonable with readiness to listen to the other party, it will be called a discussion. Now having understood the clear difference between the two words, I am sure that you will prefer to say ‘No’ to Arguments and ‘Yes’ to Discussions.

Experts Details

Veerendra K Jaitly

Veerendra K Jaitly

VK Jaitly is a motivational speaker, a consultant, a coach, a writer and a mentor for the corporate world. He is an ex IITian with 35 years of experience in corporate, academics and defence. His workshops on ‘Business Excellence thru People (BEP)’ have been highly acclaimed for increasing productivity and profitability of organizations.

Jaitly has a number of articles to his credit and has delivered lectures/ presentations at National and International forums and has travelled across the globe. He had been the Leader for an All India Motor Cycle Rally and was Oi/C for a Car Rally from Kanyakumari to Delhi. He loves to trek, plays Golf. His first motivational book ‘We Can! We Can!’ has been getting very good reviews.

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