When I entered college, being part of the Debating Society was an aspiration. This is where all the cool kids hung out (or so I thought!) and this is where the hottest ideas were endlessly debated.
And I thought that the critical measure of success for a debater was to have a point a view.
A point of view so rigid and firm, that you could defend it till death.
What else would make a good debater? What else could possibly give you the ammunition to take down the opposition in a verbal fight?
And the first lesson I was taught, was
The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.
– F. Scott Fitzgerald
This changed everything.
It wasn’t what I knew that mattered, or my point of view that was the key to effective communication.
It was my ability to entertain both sides of the house and be able to debate from either.
And that meant detachment.
Detachment from all ideology, all assumption, and all bias.
For, it is the mark of an educated person to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
Debating taught me how communication isn’t about how well you know what you know. It is about how well you know what the person you are communicating with knows.