Debate Tips from The Intelligent Conversationalist

This English language Cheat Sheet gives you some strategies to come out champion of any conversation. We first focus on an A to Z of impressive words to throw into your chat now and again. then follow these up with a few one-liner get-outs and steer-aways to ensure you can dig yourself out of any holes you may find yourself in.

Disarming Words: Meaning I’ll leave it to you find out:

Avarice, Borborygmus, Connive, Disestablishmentarionism, Erudite, Fractious, Gluttony, Hauteur, Inverterate, Jabberwack, Kismet, Lackadaisical, Malapropism, Nadir, Obtuse, Panacea, Qoph, Repudiate, Sycophant, Truculent, Umbrage, Vex, Wanton, Yack, Zenith

The next sets of phrases are there to get you out of a tight spot, for sometimes we all find ourselves a little out of our depth. Every single television personality has a tell, a filler word or phrase they employ while they try to figure out what to say on air without looking like a muppet. One of the most successful cable news hosts I’ve ever worked with uses exactly. My get-out-of-jail card is to say “on some levels, yes.” It buys enough time for me to figure out, under the X-ray that is the TV camera, how I’m going to steer the conversation to an area I want to talk about. And this is worth repeating: Never use the words like or you know. You are not an ignorant fool; you are an intelligent member of society. To buy time while you figure out how to respond: • Repeat the question. Use pauses and remark “good question” or “interesting point.” Direct the question to someone else.

Be vague if you’re unsure:

  • “Recently”—could mean at any point in the past few years.
  • “In my opinion.”

Counterpunches:

  • “You’re being defensive.”
  • “Surely it’s no coincidence that the word listen is an anagram
    of the word silent.”
  • “I don’t have an attitude problem. You have a perception
    problem.”
  • “Frankness is usually a euphemism for rudeness.”

To win a debate with a conservative:

  • “A conservative is a politician who wants to keep what the
    liberals fought for a generation ago.”

To win a debate with a liberal:

  • “Show me a young Conservative and I’ll show you someone
    with no heart. show me’ an old Liberal and I’ll show you
    someone with no brains.” —Winston Churchill
  • “The principal feature of American liberalism is sanctimoniousness
    ” —P. J. O’Rourke

When you’ve won a debate:

  • “Sarcasm is just one more service we offer.”
  • Shortest complete sentence in the English language is
    ‘Go.’ Shall we go to the bar?”

When you’re sinking:

  • “Don’t take life too seriously, you won’t get out alive.”
  • “Being right is highly overrated. Even a stopped clock is right
    twice a day.”

To end the debate and come out with some of your reputation intact:

  • “Talk is cheap because supply exceeds demand.”
  • “After all is said and done, more is said than done.”

On the very rare occasions you initially appear to have lost:

  • “You can’t learn anything while you’re talking.
  • “Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should
    be. Be one.” —Marcus Aurelius

WISE WORDS

I love argument, I love debate. I don’t expect anyone just to sit there and agree
with me, that’s not their job.
—Margaret Thatcher

SOCIAL SURVIVAL STRATEGY

Argument:
“After all is said and done, more is said than done.”
The above phrase will shut everyone up, but avail yourself of it
sparingly. You don’t want a reputation as a killjoy, you want to be
known for your sparkling chitchat.

Crisp Fact:
The word xenon may save you at Scrabble one day.
Always important to commit a few good Scrabble words to memory; not using your phone to cheat will always be admired, if not
appreciated.

Pivot:

“I think we should all just follow Marcus Aurelius: ‘Waste no
more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.’ ”
Take the high road—this is cocktail conversation, not a GOP primary.

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Zen Stories that caught my Attention

As I was reading “Zen masters of China”, it started off with Bodhidharma and traced most of the lineages that taught Zen Buddhism with little but piercing stories full of wisdom. Two stories that caught my attention, copied here:

CAOSHAN BENJI
During his time with Dongshan, Caoshan received the “Five Ranks,”and these became the basis of his own teaching. The work he did in passing on this tradition eventually resulted in the establishment of the largest of contemporary Zen traditions, the Caodong school. Its name is taken from the “mountain” names of these two masters. In Japanese, where the teachers’ names are Sozan Honjaku [Caoshanl and Tozan Ryokai [Dongshan], the school is known as Soto. Caoshan composed the following commentary on the five ranks: “The absolute is not necessarily void. The relative is not necessarily actual. There is neither turning towards nor turning away. When mental activity dies down and both the material world and emptiness are forgotten, there is no concealment. The whole is revealed. This is the relative within the absolute. Mountains are mountains, rivers are rivers. No names; nothing can be compared. This is the absolute within the relative. Clean and naked, bare and free, the face in full majesty. Throughout heaven and earth, the only honored one. This is coming from the absolute. The ear does not enter sound. Sound does not block the ear. The moment you go within, there have never been any fixed names in the world. This is arriving in the middle. No mind, no objects; no phenomena, no principle. It has always been beyond name or description, beyond absolute and relative, beyond essence and appearance. This is unity attained.”

GUIZONG ZHICHANG
The governor of Jiangzhou Province once visited another disciple of Mazu, Guizong Zhichang, in order to discuss a passage he had found in one of the Buddhist sutras regarding Mount Kunlun (Mount Sumeru, the mythical peak at the center of the world). “It’s said in the sutra,” the governor said, “that there’s a poppy seed within Mount Kunlun, and that within that poppy seed is Mount Kunlun. Now I can understand how there could be a poppy seed within the mountain, but it’s nonsense to suggest a poppy seed could contain a mountain!” Guizong said, “Governor, I’m told that you’re a well-read man.” “I believe I am,” the governor admitted. “I’ve been told you’ve read as many as ten thousand books.” “That’s very likely true.” “But your head is no bigger than a coconut, how could it possibly contain the contents of ten thousand books?” The governor had no reply.