Emotion vs Logic is the Wrong Debate

(My column as it appeared in Upmarket magazine week of June 17th)

Many times we hear arguments based on pure logic or emotion. When this happens more often than not one side is absolutely convinced the other side is wrong. Usually there is no reconciliation between the two. For an analogy there is none better than the parent vs teenager debates. This drama also unfolds across the spectrum of business regardless of age or stature. The crux of these discussions can be narrowed down to one side defending their position purely based on logic while the other is wrought with emotion. Neither side will be able to persuade the other and usually ends in dead lock or worse.

Sometimes we hear the term passionate used to describe a fiery debate. Although passionate conjurers the image of pure emotion, a “passionate” debate is laced with logical reasoning as to why one cares so deeply. In finding a workable conclusion or middle ground you need both sides to have both logic and emotion in their arguments. Not one or the other. If not there’s no reason to continue the debate. Nothing but frustration will result. You need to be aware so when this becomes evident you can end politely because nobody will be happy or win if it continues.

Think of emotions as the sails on a ship and logic as the ropes that bind them. Without the strength and points of restraint to hold the sails in place the sheets will whip to and fro aimlessly. Not only does this not allow any power to be used as to move the ship, the sail will become tattered and torn as it flails untethered. It won’t take long before it wears itself out and frays beyond repair. Ropes on the other hand in relation to the size and scope of sails are fractional yet they are what give the sails their power and strength. They allow the force to be captured as to move the ship forward. Ropes important as they are by themselves are meaningless if all they do is stay coiled in some container. It’s the combination of the two that give both their reasons for harnessing the wind with astonishing results.

When you’re in a debate, discussion, or argument you must be the one whom is on the lookout for signs that the emotional and logical sides of the argument are present in both sides. Not just one expressing logic as the other is purely emotional. Once you’re able to do this in real-time or watching from afar you’ll be able to spot the brewing storm clouds and adjust your course of action as to not get swept into more turbulent weather.

A passionate debate has both sides pleading their case with emotion tied down with logical reasoning. When this takes place the murky waters of business become as exciting as being at the helm navigating a ship at the Americas Cup.

One without the other and you’ll never get further than the dock.

© 2012 Mark St.Cyr