I admit that I was drawn to this video by the spectacle of watching Chandler Bing (aka Matthew Perry) get grilled by Jeremy Paxman. But instead Paxman is strangely absent from the debate leaving Peter Hitchens to rule the floor.
Four things I learned from this conversation
1. Empathy is vital to communication
Peter Hitchens comes across as particularly cold in this debate. He denies Chandler’s experience of addiction and ends up resorting to cheap pot shots in the argument. Chandler however opens up about his past, shares his experiences in a very vulnerable way and then offers some practical ways that addicts like him can be helped. It makes Chandler’s argument a lot more compelling as a result.
“read something other than your book”
2. Play by the rules
Because Chandler asks permission for an opportunity to speak he is then invited to take the floor by Paxman which means he has shown courtesy and deference to his host. This further warms the audience to him and against Hitchens who shows very little respect to anyone in the room.
3. Never insult your opponent (unless you can do it in a charming and playful manner)
Peter turns to name calling when he runs out of arguments, Chandler does too but he manages to do it in a charming and humorous way. Peter resorts to belittling Chandler’s argument and response and loses the argument because he loses his sense of humour. Even though they are on diametrically opposed sides (someone somewhere at the BBC must have thought for the sake of ‘balance’ you get someone who denies that drug addiction exists to talk about the impact of drug courts) Chandler finds a way to compliment Peter for making a good point in the argument.
Not that your aspirin point wasn’t genius but you don’t know what you are talking about
4. Try to communicate with you co-council beforehand
Baroness Meecher ends up arguing against Chandler which makes it more difficult to argue effectively. [ I had a similar problem when on a twitter debate with some militant atheists recently when 6 day creationists decided to join in... I don't think it helped the overall case about the relationship between science and faith. ]
Baroness Meecher was the expert, in the room and yet she was consistently ignored and put down by both Chandler and Hitchens. This had to be pointed out to me by my friend Pete Philips on twitter. I was so awed by the star power of Chandler that I didn’t even notice this example of “everyday sexism.”
What did you learn from the debate?
You might like this Chandler Bing vs Matthew Perry quiz.