How to discuss correctly

“Discussion is impossible with someone who claims not to seek the truth, but already to possess it.” 
― Romain Rolland, Above the Battle

Photo by Jorge Guerrero

I believe we’ve all been guilty of this terrible sin, thinking ourselves to be the proprietors of the truth. By doing this, we are not searching for the truth but trying to state en ego driven dominance. Petty.

Human beings are first emotional and then rational, period. It’s quite illogical, taking this fact into account, to expect your counterpart in a discussion to agree with you at any point, as completely and undeniably rational your point might be, if you do not come from a place of compassion and understanding first.

Generally, in business, to give an example, compassion is thought of to be a weakness. But in reality, compassion is a sign of strength and fortitude. It’s easier to wall yourself up and disagree with every opposing view, but the strong-minded person will take into account that he is not alone in the world and that other points of view must be taken into consideration because he might be wrong, by doing this, he comes closer to an accurate view of reality, and there is no stronger knowledge than what is real, not “want of things to be real” in other words, fantasies.

Emotional Correctness

Emotional correctness takes into account the emotional counterpart and speaks and discuss knowing that the person he is discussing with will open himself rationally if he is taken into account emotionally first.

Practicing emotional correctness is definitely hard and emotionally demanding, for you will have to regulate not only your emotions but the other person as well. Doing this is of paramount importance if you want to actually achieve and gain something from a discussion.

Marcus Aurelius knew this from a long, long time ago.

“Begin each day by telling yourself: Today I shall be meeting with interference, ingratitude, insolence, disloyalty, ill-will, and selfishness – all of them due to the offenders’ ignorance of what is good or evil. But for my part I have long perceived the nature of good and its nobility, the nature of evil and its meanness, and also the nature of the culprit himself, who is my brother (not in the physical sense, but as a fellow creature similarly endowed with reason and a share of the divine); therefore none of those things can injure me, for nobody can implicate me in what is degrading. Neither can I be angry with my brother or fall foul of him; for he and I were born to work together, like a man’s two hands, feet or eyelids, or the upper and lower rows of his teeth. To obstruct each other is against Nature’s law – and what is irritation or aversion but a form of obstruction.”

― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Being emotionally correct is one of the most difficult things you’ll encounter within

rosa parks
Rosa Parks

many discussions. It might be easier to get mad and try to get the other person to understand reason (supposing you are right) but realize this, you are shooting yourself in the foot because neither you nor your counterpart will get anywhere and your time and theirs will be lost.

Next time you are in a discussion try to think as if you were supporting the opposing point of view, put it to the test. In simpler words, get yourself in the other person shoes. Simple, not easy, but painfully necessary.

Subscribe and receive for free the Askesis ebook to further develop your practice of stoicism. 

Subscribe here

Visit our Patreon page for more stoic, Patreon only content. Thanks.

Support Stoic Answers

Stoic answers is committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview. Our mission is to create a sanctuary online for serious stoic contemporary thinking. No ads, no paywall, no clickbait – just thought-provoking ideas from the great ancient Stoics and contemporary knowledge, free to all. But we can’t do it without you.




1 Comment

  1. I ask this from the position of a freshman philosophy major, so please, have at me! To what degree? For instance: you claim as a first principle, “Human beings are first emotional and then rational, period.” By your own thesis, no discussion is possible about first principles. If first principles are a claim to truth, then what degree or measure of truth can a person claim to have while maintaining the ability to participate in discussion?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s