Posted over 9 years ago
I’ve noticed that when we are debating a topic that we frequently preface our points with ‘I think.’ For example, one might say, “I think Chef is a better configuration management tool than Puppet because…” or “I think KVM is a better virtualization solution than Zen because…” This is not a good practice during a debate. Why do people do it? What’s the purpose? Why should we avoid this during debates?
One of the reason’s we do this is to avoid confrontation. By prefacing our arguments with “I think” we avoid dismissing our opponents argument while still making our counter-point. However, by phrasing your counter-point as an opinion you are detracting value from it and at the same time you are adding value to your opponents stance by not contradicting his previous statement with fact. Isn’t the point of a debate to win? If you do not feel strongly enough about your stance to win it then is it really worth a debate? I agree that there is a time to gather information and put it on the table, but when it’s decision making time you’re going to lose if everything you offer is phrased as an opinion.
There’s an art to winning a debate without making enemies. I suggest reading Sebastian Marshals post on Defecting by accident
I’ve been consciously avoiding phrasing my statements in this way for quite some time now and I’ve noticed that people are less likely to counter a statement phrased as a fact.