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Invite The Debate


Debating makes some people sick to their stomachs.

I was never good at debating in school. I tried joining the debate team, but wound up being a pretty decent mathlete instead. What I did learn from my brief run-ins with the debate team was that I had a love for listening to the opinions of others. Not necessarily in order to let them sway me, but to hear something I might have missed in the overall conversation. I enjoyed hearing both sides of any issue. I was obsessed with the idea of devil’s advocate.

All that interest in debate wasn’t of much use to me while in the music industry (unless debating whether The Simpsons was funnier overdubbed in German or sub-titled in Swedish with us trying to read along as we drank beer on the almost 24 hour wide across some of the worst roads in Romania). I forgot about my love for it and didn’t think much about it. You can’t really do much debating over whether the song starts on a G major or an E minor – it either does or it doesn’t.

When I joined the online world of real estate and started reading blogs, I found that the ones that intrigued me the most and got the most response from me were the posts that involved a hot topic or a heated debate. Even if I didn’t comment, I was clicking refresh every few minutes to see who had something new to say or a new offshoot to travel down. I found myself excited by the prospect of so many people I admired (and some I didn’t even know of) having these open forum discussions. Sometimes, the consumers would even join in and sound off (nothing better than hearing direct from the consumer in my opinion). No matter which side I landed on in the debate, I couldn’t wait to hear the next comment. Each post gave me a glimpse of the problems of the industry, the fixes for those problems, the new ideas, the old ideas, and sometimes even the absurd.

Debate is not the root of all evil, it’s the root of all solutions.

Recently I’ve been trying to engage others in debate. Trying to push them to think of new ideas. It doesn’t always work. And it’s not just for them. It benefits me. I learn, I engage, and I build relationships. At times, I think some people think I’m just sparring with them for the fun of it. I’m not. I’m enjoying it, yes, but I am trying to get new ideas and grow my own thinking on different subjects. I am questioning authority at times and questioning our own practices at others. Have you ever said something on your blog that seemed a bit controversial? Have you ever asked someone a question they didn’t want to hear? Ever ask a question of other agents that you knew would make them squirm? Try it – the results might just be the beginning of a new idea for you, the industry, or the world. The more we get involved in conversation (which is how a good debate should run – it doesn’t need to be yelling and screaming or a serious structured debate), the more we learn, grow, and think “outside the box” (I hate that phrase, but couldn’t think of a better one). So go ahead, debate me, tell me I’m wrong, and demand I rethink my position. I want you too.

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Written By

Matt is a former PA-based rockstar turned real estate agent with RE/MAX Access in San Antonio, TX. He was asked to join AgentGenius to provide a look at the successes and trials of being a newer agent. His consumer-based outlook on the real estate business has helped him see things from both sides. He is married to a wonderful woman from England who makes him use the word "rubbish."



  1. Jeffrey Douglass

    August 26, 2009 at 10:25 am

    Dear Matt,

    Open debate is so important to get new ideas and challenge the status quo, I know that I love to participate in these open forums across the County – how else are we going to change our industry? Thanks for the post.

  2. Ken Brand

    August 26, 2009 at 11:29 pm

    I have to disagree. The value of debate is overrated and debatable;-)

    And, another thing, I think saying, “they all” or “everyone” or “always” and “never” while debating is like talking in black and white instead of shades of Technicolor.

    And last, I’m with you, conversation is Queen, King and everything in between.

  3. Russell Shaw

    August 27, 2009 at 1:20 am

    Well Matt, I agree and disagree! 🙂

    There is a world of difference between having a debate and exchanging viewpoints. Some debates are really in the contest category and the goal ceases to be about discovery and becomes a contest in making the other person wrong.

    When a person is looking at other viewpoints in order to broaden his own – making the other person wrong does not enter into it in any way.

  4. Joe Loomer

    August 27, 2009 at 7:29 am

    All the good leaders I worked with in the Navy where masters of the redirect. Where they learned it I don’t know. They’d make you come to your own decision with little more than a “well, what do you think would happen if we did do it YOUR way?”

    Even better – some of these Master Chiefs could get the OLD MAN HIMSELF (Commanding Officer) to change his mind – a feat to behold – “well Sir, I understand Seaman Schmuccatelli may indeed have been drinking and hurled in the scuttlebutt and all down the p-way, but he wasn’t behind the wheel of a vehicle, he was off duty, and he is 21 years old….”

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  5. Matt Stigliano

    August 27, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    Jeffrey – One of the things that first attracted me to AgentGenius was open and honest discussions about hot topics. I heard some very different opinions in just one single post. That to me said this was a place I needed to spend more time, especially as I was a new agent still looking to figure out my opinions on a variety of topics.

    Ken – I’m afraid you’ll find your statements on the merits of debate are quite debatable. You’re another author I like to watch for that spark that causes the conversation. I love the way a good writer can do it and most of the time not even appear to have done it.

    Russell – Unfortunately I do find that debates can quickly devolve into feuds, flame-wars, and occasionally worse. I have seen a few just recently that have been shocking to watch. When we stoop to mud-slinging or more, it never is going to result in much. Me, I guess I just love to hear it all – no matter what side. I listened to some talk radio today and it was so far from my personal beliefs that I couldn’t believe what I was hearing (all politics aside this was out of control for any side of the coin). Did I screw and yell and turn it off? Nope, I turned it up – I was completely fascinated by it.

    Joe – I think you could apply that theory to a good broker. A good broker doesn’t help you fill out your (practice) contracts the first week, they let you fill them out and then help you see why what you did was right or wrong. And that attitude should never quit on the broker’s side. They should encourage you to seek the answer, while helping guide you to it.

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