10 Qualities of Healthy Debate

The ability to have healthy debate is a hallmark of a healthy team. Healthy debate allows us to share our thoughts, opinions, and even passionately disagree without causing harm or hurting the relationship.

Unhealthy debates…well, just look at the most recent string of presidential debates (and the political process as a whole). When we can’t disagree respectfully, we undermine our credibility, hurt our opponents, and negatively impact the effectiveness of the whole debate process.

So, in light of this seemingly no-hold-barred election year, let’s look at the 10 qualities that make a debate healthy, and the 10 qualities that don’t.

10 Qualities of Healthy Debate

  1. Debating with the goal of arriving at the best idea/solution.
  2. Making the issue – not the person – the focal point of the debate.
  3. Allowing everyone involved the opportunity to share their thoughts and concerns.
  4. Valuing others’ opinions and input.
  5. Supporting the final decision once it’s been made.
  6. Having the freedom to disagree without fear from retribution or harming one’s career.
  7. Viewing the leader as another teammate around the table.
  8. Having a “believe the best” mindset.
  9. Listening to learn and understand.
  10. Influencing instead of attacking. (Remember, tone does matter.)

10 Qualities of Harmful Debate

  1. Name calling.
  2. Criticizing the person instead of the idea.
  3. Viewing the debate as a personal win/loss, rather than the opportunity to share and come to the best idea.
  4. Raising voices, red faces, and yelling.
  5. Lying or exaggerating.
  6. Deflecting or changing the subject.
  7. Walking out.
  8. Pouting or clamming up because you don’t like the subject.
  9. Interrupting or talking over the other person.
  10. Having a scarcity mindset. (If you “win,” then I “lose.”)

What debate environment are you fostering among your team?


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