Endless Discussions and How to Conclude Them

Do you find yourself every once in a while in an endless discussion that doesn’t lead to any conclusion? Well, I do. And every time I do, it leaves me angry because they are a waste of time. Let’s identify the nature of these discussions and how we can conclude them.

Background

When I recently got out of a discussion, I noticed a few things. First, for some reason, I was angry about the discussion. Second, it seemed I was the only one being angry about it. And third, I had felt the same after other discussions not too long ago.

In short, it didn’t feel right. So I sat down and thought about it. Why did that meeting make me angry? Why was I the only one being angry? What can I do in case it happens again? What can I do, so it doesn’t happen again?

Nature: Too Many Assumptions

My reflections revealed that most of these discussions had the following nature:

Persons discuss a topic. They have different opinions about that topic. Most of these opinions are based on assumptions. Nobody has enough facts to prove these assumptions right or wrong. So everybody can stick to their assumptions. Instead of collecting the missing facts and proofs, people start to repeat themselves. The discussion gets louder and more emotional. The discussion goes on without making any progress.

The worst participants are those that like to hear themselves talking. Because for them, these discussions are heaven. They get to talk forever and they exploit that.

Such discussions are annoying because they hardly lead to a conclusion and they waste a lot of time.

Resolution: Collect Facts

You cannot join in on the endless repetitions and expect the discussion to conclude. Neither will the discussion conclude if you go silent.

The first step is to realize and admit that the discussion lacks facts.

Next, make the other participants understand that only facts can conclude the discussion.

Before suspending the meeting, list all opinions raised in the meeting. No worries, the participants will make sure that all their opinions are part of that list. Identify the assumptions that nurture these opinions. Only facts can prove these assumptions right or wrong. Create a list of the missing facts and assign them to the participants. Suspend the meeting so the participants can collect the missing facts.

Resume the meeting to review the collected facts. Use the facts to verify the assumptions until the discussion concludes.