Tip #7: Ask, Don’t assume

The greatest challenge in an argument is holding onto your own point with enough clarity to stay rooted in it, but flexible, whatever counter-arguments may come your way. But understanding where you stand is harmed by making assumptions about the other person. How well you understand them is related to how well you understand yourself. When you misrepresent their argument, you start losing track of your own point, and when you don’t understand their side, you fill in the gaps with assumptions.

Assumptions can be about anything. Sometimes they are as superficial as the profession, motives, social status, or experience of the other person. Just because a person is young, for example, doesn’t mean they aren’t an expert at something, and just because a person is old doesn’t mean that they’re slower in their reasoning. Sometimes they are deeper assumptions, especially about religious beliefs, which can have whole arguments around themselves alone. Nothing is too small to be neglected. Sometimes a person will push their point because of an emotional or private attachment to something, and if we assume we know what that is, we risk misrepresenting them as well.

In either case, whether the assumption must be rooted out and reasoned through, or whether it must remain unsearchable, the key is simply to have peace rather than attempt full comprehension. Except for God, no one can fully understand a person’s heart. One must revert to kindness and assume the best about the other person. Actions, more than words, reveal what the person’s faith is like, and God is the best interpreter of them.

Sofie Kellar 2022

Picture credit: “Photography is more than a medium for factual communication of ideas. It is a creative art.” by R E B E L ™® is marked with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.