The Difference Between Discussion and Debate


People often use debate and discussion interchangeably, but I think that’s a mistake.

There is a core difference.

  • In a debate, you lose if you change your mind

  • In a discussion, you lose if one or both parties don’t learn something—either about how the world works, or at least about the other person’s perspective

In the vast majority of cases, we should be discussing things, not debating them. When we talk to our friends we should be trying to figure out what they think, and why they think that, and sharing our viewpoints with the goal of reaching some sort of consensus.

That’s a discussion, not a debate.


  1. People in debates lose if they change their minds

  2. Friends in discussions win if someone changes their mind

  3. Don’t confuse these two


  1. Image author unknown.

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