Essay: Communication Evaluating the Effectiveness

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[. . .] Even when it is called an argument and is between two people over a back fence, the debate has an informal structure that starts with a statement of terms. While the debate is going, since it is sometimes difficult to recall the specific details of the original proposition, a restatement of the topic may be necessary. "At its simplest, restatement involves nothing more that repeating the main idea" (Kane 1988: 81). In most debates, this is done many times as the opponents try to make sure that they are being heard and that the definition of the debated topic is clear. The structure is then completed when someone summarizes the position. "A summary speaker has been compared to 'a biased news reporter', going over the various arguments that have already been made but implying that your side has won them all" (Sather 1999: 9). Even in the basest "arguments" this is true. It may be done while storming off, but a summary statement or gesture is made.

A formal debate also often involves more than one person per side and they must know what the debate is about and trust the others engaged on their side to state the question clearly. Thinking of a political debate, politicians need to understand that they can trust the others on their team to agree with the basic premise that is being proposed. Without some trust in the people who will be forwarding the argument, it will break down (Kee 2006: 13). Of course, debate does not have to be a team exercise, but it is best if others can bring points that one alone may not think about. Also, other people may have strengths that one person will not possess that could present the topic better (Kee 2006: 13).

Oftentimes, even the simplest of questions will be debated, and for that debate to be successful it needs to have some certain elements. The people involved must be prepared, understand that there are two sides to the issue, and they have to follow a logical structure or they are not going to be successful in their attempt. Debates of this sort are an effective means of communication mainly because they follow a logical path that it is difficult to counter.

However, the debater must be prepared to consider the other side. Even in preparation, some points may be missed. If this is the case and the other debater makes a strongly relevant case, then true communication only happens when the other side of the proposition acknowledges this. Debate as a form of communication may be foreign to many people because they have determined that they are not going to listen to what is said and that they are going to just thrust their particular opinion at the other person. However, communication being a two way street, this is where debate breaks down and pure argument begins. Thus, for debate to be an effective form of communication, it has to be an agreed upon two-way street.


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Freeley, AJ & Steinberg, DL 2005, Argumentation and debate: critical thinking for reasoned decision making, Thomson Wadsworth, Australia.

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Holowchak, A 2004, Critical reasoning & philosophy: a concise guide to reading, evaluating, and writing philosophical works, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Lanham, Md.

Kane, T 1988, The New Oxford Guide to Writing, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Kee, C 2006, The art of argument: a guide to mooting, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne, Victoria.

Sather, T 1999, Pros and… [END OF PREVIEW]

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