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January 10, 2013 / compassioninpolitics

A case against aggressive tone and style in policy debate

Debaters un-intentially get sucked into bravado & shreiking tones. They get caught up in the “heat of the moment.” Some of this they pick of from watching others or based on their perceptions of how lawyers perform (or the clips they see on so called “News Television”). It also is based on certain assumptions we have about the nature of argument. This is far from inevitable. They may mistake aggressive behavior for aggressive argument. Although there may be overlap–the two are different.

And often its a form of leaking–you are leaking that you are frustrated in convincing your opponent of an argument. Guess what? You probably aren’t going to convince your opponent of anything until the judge renders a decision–and even then. Stay cool. Stay calm. Stay collected.

You can change this mentality–you have the opportunity to do so in every debate you participate in. And you can model it for others.

What are the challenges this presents:
1. It can prevent deeper listening (and understanding)
2. It can be annoying as a judge. (and actually the competitors)
3. It damages the community a little bit.
4. It damages your ability to emphasize your argument (if everything is belligerant and
5. Hurts your likability (people like friendly jokes….not mean people)

Whats silly is the best debaters in the country generally don’t do it. They maintain their calm in 90 to 95% of cases.

Your arguments can speak for themselves often. While emphasis and nonverbal and some degree of show-personship is helpful. Agro personality and agro tone….can be somewhat unproductive.


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