Every now and then, you'll find yourself in a discussion with people about some sort of topic. Sometimes these conversations can get heated or could be a lot more productive if every participant would follow a certain "discussion etiquette".

Everyone has probably been there already at some point. You're talking with friends or family at the table, having a nice lunch or dinner, sometimes maybe even accompanied by a glass of wine. And oftentimes, you might end up being part of some interesting discussion, one that might get passionate the more people get into it.

I'm personally guilty of being a very passionate person and this sometimes leads to heated debates. With time I've learned to know when to speak, and when to refrain and first listen. I think it is no secret that nowadays, with social media enabling people to speak out their opinion whenever they want to (and however they want to), many might have forgotten the do's and don'ts of having a discussion. So here are some tips that I think everyone could find useful once in a while!

Do try and partake in discussions even if you're not necessarily knowledgeable about the subject. Take advantage of the opportunity to learn something new and you never know, someday this newly acquired information might come in handy! People are often very quick to zone out of a conversation the moment it concerns something that they can not participate in, even though they might enjoy the subject if they would just give it a chance.

However, don't be too quick to give out opinions on subjects that you know little about. That is something that happens on a daily occurrence unfortunately, but people often forge strong opinions on topics they don't know enough about. This will at some point come to light the moment someone will question you on your arguments, so save yourself the embarrassment and be sure to have a nicely founded argument before you go head-on into a discussion.

Do be open to opposing opinions. It is the essence of our slowly decaying concept called "critical thinking". People tend to make opinions very personal, which in turn transforms every opposition to their opinion into a personal attack, hence a more emotionally loaded response will follow (which will ultimately lead to a fight and a ruined evening). Be respectful of someone else's opinion just as you would like someone to be respectful of yours. And if you're not met with the same respect than stand above it all, then you've already won that debate.

Don't get too emotional. And I know that this is a difficult one, or at least it is for passionate people. I think there needs to be a healthy balance of reason and emotions to have an interesting discussion. Passion brings meaning and conviction to an opinion, but reason helps delivering it and hampers unnecessary emotions that cloud someone's judgement in the heat of the moment. You need both in order to have a successful discussion.

Do learn to actively listen to someone when in the midst of a discussion. Often discussions go wrong because people misunderstood someone's argument, usually due to the fact that they weren't actively listening in the first place. Give people the necessary amount of time to make their argument whilst actively listening to what they are saying at the end of the day it is also the respectful thing to do.

Don't ridicule the contribution of other people. Again, when emotions get in the way, people don't realize that they might come across as demeaning. Be respectful and don't say things like "that is stupid". Just because someone has a different opinion than you doesn't mean it's worth less.

And at the end of the day, agree to disagree is the best policy. But whether you're an introvert, or an extrovert, whether you feel like you have something to say or you don't, try and participate in discussions, and who knows what you might learn along the way.