A member of the 16Personalities Community recently asked us the following question: “How do you have a debate with a Debater and live to tell about it? Or, at least, avoid things getting hostile?”
As the resident (and only) Debater (ENTP) of the 16Personalities team, answering this question fell to me.
At first, I was confused by the question. Confused and amused that people genuinely wanted to know how to defeat my personality type in an argument. I think I speak for all Debaters when I say thank you. It’s so flattering that you find us so impressive. Especially when you consider that out of the Analyst Role group – including Architects (INTJ), Logicians (INTP), and Commanders (ENTJ) – Debaters are very much the classmate eating glue in the corner. That is to say, I think of myself as a very simple person, not at all complex, and I think my fellow Debaters would agree.
Anyway, the more I thought about the question, the more I realized that I couldn’t answer it on my own. After all, I don’t know what it’s like to be on the other side of an argument with me. So I polled the people I have significantly peeved off in the past.
Questioning People I’ve Debated in the Past
I asked the people I’ve truly argued with – the kind of arguing that includes yelling, angry pauses, glaring, and maybe even a little crying – what the experience was like.
These were their responses:
- Consul (ESFJ): “It’s like talking to a wall, except the wall is angry for no reason and pushes its beliefs on you.”
- Architect (INTJ): “It feels like this quote: ‘Never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty, and the pig likes it.’”
- Campaigner (ENFP): “Um… The person arguing with you has to be very patient. And they have to keep an inside voice, otherwise things are gonna get very loud. If the person doesn’t have patience, y’all would just be talking over each other.”
- Advocate (INFJ): *Didn’t respond*
- Entertainer (ESFP): “You’re very stubborn, but that’s just you being passionate. You have a way, and that’s it for you, and that’s fine! You still listen to the other’s opinion, but it won’t change the way you think. I’m thinking about the time you and Defender* got into an argument about The Little Mermaid.”
- *Aforementioned Defender (ISFJ): “You’re very passionate…and sometimes physical.”
- Commander (ENTJ): “Personally, I love arguing with you because you often use logic and facts, but there are areas in which you give way to emotion, due to personal experience related to the topic. But you’re definitely a formidable foe.”
The Problem People Have with Debaters (and a Response from a Debater)
Thank you to all my loved ones who answered – and to all my not-loved ones who sent me responses that I can’t responsibly post on this family-friendly website. These were the common critiques about the way Debater personality types argue, with my personal commentary attached.
Critique: Debaters tend to argue disingenuously, and this could be bothersome to people who have a strong definition of “truth” and have a lot of respect for said truth.
Response: When I start to quibble with someone, it’s because (a) I’m bored, or (b) they just said something fantastically stupid. Situation B is rarer as I get older, as I’ve learned to walk away. So, yes, I do argue disingenuously because I have nothing else to do.
Critique: Debaters can seem disrespectful, pushing the personal boundaries of others too far.
Response: There are no boundaries for me when I argue (save mentioning personal tragedies). This is mostly because I feel comfortable talking about anything and everything. But if you tell me to stop, I’ll stop immediately. However, the other person needs to state their boundaries. It’s not my responsibility to try to perceive what the other’s limits are.
Critique: Debaters seem as though their minds can’t be changed.
Response: They can be changed. But depending on how I feel or how much I want to irritate the other person, I can stick with an opinion that we both know is wrong. Am I being a bad person? …Maybe?
Critique: Debaters make people feel as though they don’t have any respect for them.
Response: No, it’s not that I don’t respect you. It’s that I don’t respect your opinion. [I was told later by a Feeling personality type that this was not the correct response.]
Critique: Debaters care more about the argument than the person they’re arguing with.
Response: Depends on who it is. If it’s someone I care about, I’ll stop. If it’s someone I don’t care about, why should I stop?
Critique: Debaters intimidate people by how zealously they argue.
Response: I do get excited. And it does scare others off. It’s just that whatever the person is saying might be so interesting (whether it’s correct or incorrect) that I just have to reply. I’m so excited to reply! I’m so excited to be part of this exchange!
Critique: Debaters don’t seem to care about the actual information.
Response: If I’m genuinely arguing, then yes, I care. If I’m arguing because it’s entertaining to irritate the other person, then I will argue that the sky is actually green and that fish can fly, despite all other evidence.
Response to the Original Question
So, back to the original question: “How do you have a debate with a Debater and live to tell about it? Or, at least, avoid things getting hostile?”
Short answer? You don’t. Debater personalities don’t mean to come off as aggressive or hostile. More often than not, they’re just intensely excited about the opportunity to debate. That doesn’t make your perception of them as hostile invalid, however. Instead, I say embrace the perceived hostility. That is to say, don’t take any of it personally, and maybe even throw back some barbs or mean humor of your own. Debaters like to tease and will likely enjoy it if you tease back. We live for the banter – negative or positive.
However, if you don’t want to embrace the chaos, that’s fine too. Let the Debater know, “Hey, I’m uncomfortable with the way we’re communicating.” The dogged Debater should stop once you present your boundaries.
And if they don’t stop?
Well, at that point, your issue is less about dealing with a Debater and more about dealing with a jerk (regardless of personality type).
Remember that no one, no matter their personality type, has the right to trample over your boundaries once you state them.
- Is it an Architect personality type getting the best of you instead of a Debater? Here are 12 ways to understand those angry little robots better.
- It doesn’t matter what personality type it comes from or if it’s a joke – criticism can really hurt! If you feel like criticism (or conflict of any kind, really) gets to you, check out our piece, “When Criticism Gets Personal.”
- Did you know that our members’ Academy has awesome (and easy) tools to help your friendships and your love life, like our Type Guessers for friendship and romance and our Intertype Test? They’re just two more reasons to join today and see what you’ve been missing.