The young are certain that they are smarter than their elders and better than them. It is only when we encounter reality that we realise how smart, dedicated, wise, etc. they are.
It is natural that the young constantly test themselves to determine what is their own potential. Fuelled by a mixture of youthful naivety, arrogance, and energy, they are convinced about the superiority of their thoughts and ways. Combating tradition, experience and wisdom are typical of youth, often making it difficult for them to work with their elders.
So it was with the relationship between our father Sardar Man Singh ji and myself for I often found myself sparring intellectually and managerially with father. Discussions often turned into debates irritating him.
As I matured I learnt, debating is like exercise, in limited amount, refreshing and in excess, exhausting.
From a functional standpoint every debate should be concluded and a decision taken on the way forward, because unless a decision is arrived at, no meaningful action can take place.
So how does one bring a debate to an end?
There are three ways.
We can triumph over the other, concede defeat, or negotiate a compromise.
To really win a debate, one has to convince the other.
Win or lose debating is usually beneficial, especially for the loser, for he or she will have the possibility to learn something. For the winner a strong counter to an idea reveals flaws and weaknesses in one's assumptions, perspectives and reasoning.
Sometimes we concede defeat just to buy peace other times we bludgeon the other to get them to give up. Sometimes a debate descends into an argument we will often land up with inferior outcomes.
Both winning or losing an argument is tragic. Winning an argument only serves to inflate the ego and losing it can hurt the ego. The difference between an argument and a debate is that an argument decides who is right whereas a debate helps determine what is right.
Then there is the compromise. There are two approaches to call a truce.
First is the lose-lose truce, where both sides 'agree to disagree' and life simply goes on. Because both sides leave the stalemate in a huff it leaves a bad taste and strains relationships.
Second and more effective is the win-win truce which strengthens the relationship and leaves the door open for revisiting the debate if necessary. My father would say "You are right, but I am not wrong".
Extracted from my workshop and upcoming book 'Effective Communication and Conversation'