There is a difference between exploring knowledge together and debating a point only to reassure someone who is not sure about what they believe or know. In our knowledge economy, what you know has a bearing on what you are able to do to make money, be successful and bring value to others.
I try to take the humble position when I don’t know something. It is fun to learn from others, especially experts in their domain. The thousands of hours they spend mastering a subject and then sharing in an artful way is like a refreshing elixir. Their perspective and insights help me to see things I would otherwise miss because of my amateur eyes.
I like to think that the relationship between someone who has expert knowledge and someone who does not should be a healthy exchange where the expert can teach and share with respect and attention from the amateur. The dynamic becomes perverted when someone without knowledge has a posture of doubt and arguing. If someone argues points who does have domain knowledge, this can be healthy between both experts.
However, someone who merely argues to clarify their own thinking can be frustrating to deal with. This often shows a lack of conviction. They use debate and argument to help elucidate their own thoughts. It’s even worse if they bring in another person to debate a point. This can be a tactic that a prospective customer may use for an RFQ to have two bidders on a project go at it for the benefit and amusement of their own information gathering, but it is poor taste.
When You Find A Lack Of Conviction
If I find myself in such situations, I kindly withdraw. There is not a benefit to getting pulled into debate with an amateur or manipulated within debates with others for the benefit of an onlooker. I have my convictions and belief. The problem does not lie with me. It is with the person who is unsure and at a knowledge deficit.
A lack of conviction or leadership can produce some weird behaviors in others. It’s important to remember that control is not leadership. It is simply control for the sake of avoiding responsibility and cost while getting the benefits. When you find a lack of conviction, take the lead and transfer responsibility and cost back to the amateur. Avoid the gaming and position rather than participate in shenanigans that do not benefit you.
There is more of this behavior that is happening today because of the illusion that information is available and free. The misconception is that you should simply provide your knowledge without cost when it has cost you much in time, diligence and study.
So, how do you handle those who would rather debate you than learn from you?