What are we getting wrong when we are having a discussion?

Ranjit Damodaran
3 min readFeb 28, 2022


Photo by Redd on Unsplash

Have you experienced a well-laid argument based on rational and logical reasoning being vetoed? Have you seen people argue persuasively without any logic or coherence? If we are rational animals, logical reasoning should have won the argument. Unfortunately, it is not the case.

We think our brain makes decisions like a computer algorithm. We assume our brain processes like a sequence of logical steps and conclude. It's not true.

The theory that human being is rational animals needs to be debunked. Though our neocortex has evolved, which helps rational thought processes, we are still fundamentally animals. We are still at the mercy of emotions. Emotional traits like fear, surprise, and anger play a bigger role. These traits are inbuilt in our old mammalian brain. When the emotional part of the brain takes control, the logical part of the brain is subdued.

As per the book, Thinking fast and slow by Danial Kahneman, Daniel says Our brain comprises Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 is more animalistic and intuitive, and Type 2 is rational, calculating, and conscious. Type 1 takes precedence over and directs the Type 2 part of the brain. Our emotions play a vital role even before the rational part of the brain kicks in.

For example, if you want to buy a phone, you start with a model in your mind, and then you start rationalizing how and where to buy it. The buying process of the phone may be rational. However, our old mammalian brain has already decided the seed of buying a specific brand or model. So the intuitive brain always precedes our rational decision-making process.

This is one of the reasons why logical and coherent argument fails to get intended results. Without factoring in the emotional part, it is not easy to have an effective negotiation.

What we can do to avoid these pitfalls?

Active listening: It is most often a repeated cliche. Active listening is engaging in complete and compassionate listening without any prejudice. Normally, when we listen, we don't give full attention to what our counterpart is saying. Instead, we will be framing answers in our minds to respond most of the time. Active listening is listening without judgment, looking for all the verbal and emotional signals. Don't frame any response while you talk. Listen actively.

Ask open-ended questions: Don't conclude without deliberating. People generally share a cryptic answer to a question. They don't articulate the reasons behind the answers they share. It is important to understand the context completely, we need to ask questions, and it should be open-ended questions. It will unlock the reasoning and unlock context.

Being emphatic: Empathy is a short change in today's world. People are bombarded with information sometimes we need to shout ourselves at the top of the voice to make ourselves heard. This leads to apathy, we fail to see other people's views, and we come to a quick judgment and start pushing our ideas without listening.

Above all, being human, it is necessary to understand acknowledge the emotional state of mind before we embark on a discussion.



Ranjit Damodaran

Tech enthusiast, Project Management. Interested in Complexity science, Economics, Psychology, Philosophy, Human Nature, Behavioral Economics, almost anything.