Discussion

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Discussions make different perspectives on a topic visible. They are a useful tool for learning to defend the personal points of view as well as to react on different opinions. As well they help to shape the skills for critical evaluation and for interpersonal communication. We see the following positive characteristics of fruitful discussions:

  • Gain: Participants gain new insights/findings
  • Representacy: All participants or groups of participants are involved
  • Dialogue: Participants react dialogical on the opposite statements
  • Respect: They appreciate the opposite statements and treat the opponents in a fair and equal way.
  • Diversity: All aspects and opinions were introduced
  • Result: At the end the discussion helped everybody for answering the main question
  • Facilitative moderator: The moderator lets the process flow and enables the disputants to contribute ton the discussion.


[edit] Moderator

The moderator has a rather neutral role, not sympathizing with one party. As the main goal of a discussion is interactive exchange, a moderating person

  • allows difference,
  • helps each party to formulate its point of view most precisely
  • ensures, that the discussion remains in all phases discursive, which means that the controversy is constructive and pacified.
  • takes care for the enforcement of the discussion rules
  • has the discussion goal/main question in mind
  • makes the process easier to follow for audiences (like through paraphrazing and short summaries)


[edit] Rules

One general feature of a discussion is its formalized rules. They make sure, that the discussion remains fair and allows each party to show its point of view. They may include

  • time regulations for each contribution
  • speaker lists (sometimes assembeld following proportional criteria like gender balance, partys balance, representation of all participants' groups...)
  • the power and limitations of the moderator
  • the criteria for those that are allowed to participate actively (only elected parlamentarians in a parliament, only participants of a panel, open discussion,...)
  • the quotability of the said (some discussions are not allowed to be quoted in the public like those under the Chatham rule , some are open)

[edit] Typical Discussion Process

  • Introduction into the topic - the goal and the leading question
  • Presentation of the discussion rules
  • Formalized Exchange of opinions and contributions according to the discussion rules
  • Summary
  • Final statements

[edit] Tools

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