Sharpen your influencing skills: learn the art of debate

Have you ever had to justify a professional decision? Did your influencing skills fall short? FIP has invited experts in the art of debating to consider an issue at the heart of the pharmacy profession – continuing professional development – and to help congress participants understand and acquire the skills needed to debate effectively.

“As pharmacists, it’s important that we’re able to look at any argument or any proposal about our profession from [different] viewpoints and to be able to set aside our own believes and values,” says Catriona Bradley, of the Irish Institute of Pharmacy, Ireland.

Dr Bradley will co-chair “The continuing professional development debate” at the FIP congress. Speakers will introduce the concept of debate as well as giving an overview of two different CPD systems – one based on outcomes, one based on inputs.

Participants will be invited to debate the merits of the two systems, along with the concept of recertification or continuing fitness to practise, a process that is set to be brought in in Ireland and which has recently been introduced in the UK. As the debates unfold, participants will learn the skills needed to tease out issues and counter opposing arguments. Participants will also act as judges in the debate, voting on how well arguments are made.

Dr Bradley highlights the low quality of debate in society. “Too often people think the art of debate is about drilling home your point and winning an argument. It’s more than that,” she says. “It’s [about] listening intelligently to the arguments and taking those into account and having your counter position ready.”

Consider the US presidential elections or Brexit – was that good debate or just arguing? “There’s a big difference,” says Dr Bradley. “It’s important to stop sometimes and ask are we really debating the issues or are we just defending our position?” And she argues that debating is a skill that pharmacists working across all sectors of the profession need to embrace. “Pharmacists are well used to facts and … to making their own conclusions in their head – but maybe we could be better at articulating them and presenting them as a cogent proposition of our position,” she says.

Join Dr Bradley at session C12 and try your hand at debating in a supportive environment.