Debate is the essence of democracy, while discussion allows for people to come together, discuss their views and find common ground.
Debate and discussion are powerful tools that contribute to positive social change as well as strengthened relationships. But, many persons fail to realize the numerous benefits that debate and discussion can have on their personal wellness. In fact, active debate and discussion are essential to a healthy society and significantly enhances intellectual development.
This blog post will explore the key health benefits that can result from both debate and discussion.
But first, let’s explore the differences between debate and discussion.
"Freedom is hammered out on the anvil of discussion, dissent, and debate." - Hubert H. Humphrey
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What is the difference between debate and discussion
Debate is a verbal argument in which two or more people disagree about an issue. Debates are important to develop and defend your perception of the truth and is usually more formal and competitive than a discussion.
Discussion is a process of exchanging ideas in order to reach an agreement on an issue. Even though there may be some disagreement at the end of a discussion, it still often leads to positive outcomes.
Debate and discussion increase understanding among people with different views and provide opportunities for all voices to be heard.
This knowledge improves the decision-making skills for leaders who should take into account many perspectives.
For these reasons, debate and discussion should be valued strategies for achieving knowledge together – not just academically, but also socially.
"A good discussion increases the dimensions of everyone who takes part." - Randolph Bourne
What are the health benefits of debate and discussion?
The importance of debate and discussion in creating a healthy society cannot be understated. Debate and discussion will enhance morale, confidence and self-esteem, subsequently decreasing mental health disorders by improving anxiety and creating skills for positive coping, communication and decision-making.
Click here to learn how knowledge and action are connected to wellness.
1.Debate and discussions improve self-esteem and confidence
Undeniably, people who rarely discuss new ideas tend to be more closed-minded. At the same time, however, they are also not very effective at influencing other people’s beliefs since they are often unaware of how to present information in a convincing way.
By contrast, those who regularly engage in discussion with others – especially about issues where there is disagreement – will not only increase their knowledge but will also have better skills at presenting and defending their own views.
Research by the Journal for Medical Education proved that debate was effective at enhancing learning and retention of content for health professionals (Ang et al., 2019).
This improved communication skills and enhanced knowledge can significantly boost self-esteem and confidence and ultimately positively impact your mental health.
Additionally, stepping away from being entrenched in one view or opinion will likely encourage greater collaboration and happiness. In fact, collaboration positively links to greater productivity, happiness and employee satisfaction (WeWork, 2021).
2. Debates and discussion help with social anxiety
Debate involves public speaking skills which can help reduce social anxiety among individuals who suffer from it.
According to research, anxiety disorder affects more than 18% of people in the USA. And, even though this common mental health illness is treatable, only about a third of those suffering actually receive treatment (ADAA, 2021).
Social anxiety usually associates with nervousness and awkwardness in social situations. When thinking about social anxiety, it’s important to remember that it doesn’t just affect individuals who are shy.
While there are different types of social anxiety disorders, each person will experience varying degrees of distress as well as symptoms which differ depending on the type of disorder.
Though social phobias may not be as serious as other psychological disorders, it can significantly interfere with your daily life, personal relationships and career.
Exposure based therapy is an effective treatment for anxiety disorder. Essentially, the confrontation of the negative stimuli will gradually decrease the negative reaction.
In fact, many scholars believe that this should even be the first line therapy for anxiety disorder. Of course this approach should be incremental and initiated with mild stimuli (Kaplan, 2011).
Regardless, you should never ignore social anxiety since doing so could prolong or intensify the symptoms.
It is therefore essential that you seek help from qualified counselors who are trained to diagnose as well as treat social phobias.
Use this link to discover 16 coping skills for difficult situations.
"Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people." - Eleanor Roosevelt
3. Discussion and debate improve decision-making
In order to have an intelligent discussion, you first need to have a clear understanding of your own beliefs and opinions. But, how can you solidify your beliefs if you don’t have someone to challenge your ideas?
For this reason, people who actively engage in discussion are better at doing a self-assessment of their own beliefs because they’ve had opportunities to question them and explain them to others.
But, how is this related to health?
Most of your decisions are based on your personal perception of your knowledge, personality or expertise.
The ‘success’ of these decisions often lie in how well you know yourself. Essentially, the quality of your self-assessment will influence your decision making and, if erroneous can lead to an increased likelihood of unhealthy decisions and even life-threating risks (Dunning et al., 2004).
4. Debates offer opportunities to boost leadership skills
Active participation in debate and discussion will significantly help you to develop your leadership skills. Notedly, discussion is an effective way to enhance communication, comprehension and critical thinking.
In fact, this ability helps influential leaders to better connect, motivate and inspire others.
According to research, self-leadership was positively linked to improved diet, physical activity and having a healthier body weight, regardless of personal characteristics and family situation.
Use this link to discover all the benefits of having a healthy physical condition.
These advantages are fundamental for addressing the current rising obesity levels and incidence of chronic diseases and their associated healthcare burden.
Additionally, general life skills including communication has been demonstrated to prevent the development of toxic habits (Adam et al, 2015).
"Good conversation is as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after." - Anne Morrow Lindbergh
5. Group debates and discussion encourage social support
Debate and discussion encourage teamwork and cooperation, which promotes a sense of community and social support. Teamwork will also improve creativity and give you a sense of belonging.
Actually, social support is a protective factor for good health. Thus, building positive relationships can improve mental and physical health by improving your coping ability, combating stress and reducing depression.
6. Debate and discussion reduce stress and frustration
According to research, those who debate are more likely to develop the ability to think critically even in stressful situations.
Critical thinking skills will help you make better decisions and are crucial for personal and professional development.
In addition, debates and discussions allow persons to share their thoughts and ideas more openly and efficiently. This habit will be helpful for negotiating conflicts or disagreements without aggression.
Ultimately, stress and frustration will be reduced and you’ll be able to manage your relationships much better.
The skills gained from debating will provide you with the ability to effectively develop or research strategies to address life’s demands.
Plus, there is a certain positive release that comes with simply voicing your opinion and being heard.
Final words on debate and discussion
Debate and discussion are important for intellectual wellness and for maintaining a healthy society that values diversity of opinion.
Although debating offers a sense of community and provides a positive outlet for obsessions and compulsions, it can become extremely stressful given the research needed and it’s competitive nature (NHS, 2021).
As such, it’s imperative that debating remains as constructive and enjoyable as possible. Regardless, debates and discussions are valuable elements that should be preserved for the future well-being of society.
"For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate." - Margaret Heffernan.
Can you think of any other benefits of debate and discussion? Let me know in the comments below.
Fear of Public Speaking
Nowadays people use debates and speeches to create awareness among the masses about a number of social issues.
However, for most persons the mere thought of taking part in a public speaking event causes fearfulness and outright dread.
Public speaking phobia is fairly common. But luckily, there are ways to overcome this fear.
What is self-actualization?
Self-actualization is the motivation to achieve one’s full potential and become everything that you are capable of becoming.
Self-actualized persons are fully functioning human beings who are self-aware. They maintain a high level of productivity, acceptance and creativity.
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ADAA (2021) Facts and statistics
Adam Ferland, Yen Li Chu, Doug Gleddie, Kate Storey, Paul Veugelers, Leadership skills are associated with health behaviours among Canadian children, Health Promotion International, Volume 30, Issue 1, March 2015, Pages 106–113,
Ang RX, Chew QH, Sum MY, Sengupta S, Sim K. Systematic review of the use of debates in health professions education – does it work? GMS J Med Educ. 2019 Aug 15;36(4)
Dunning D, Heath C, Suls JM. Flawed Self-Assessment: Implications for Health, Education, and the Workplace. Psychological Science in the Public Interest. 2004;5(3):69-106.
Kaplan, J (2011) Exposure therapy for Anxiety Disorders.
WeWork Companies (2021) Survey finds that collaboration is key to employee happiness.