This speech was my entry at the Area Level International Speech Contest a few years ago. I thoroughly enjoyed delivering this speech, especially because I had red devil horns put up on me the whole time as a prop. Here’s is the script for you to enjoy 🙂
I was at the Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) training room, the venue for their club level international speech and table topics contest. I was enjoying my time chatting and catching up with other toastmasters and discussing common topics of interest. The conversation turned to environment in a few minutes, as is always the case with me. While I was describing the activities I do, the projects I am involved in, and all that I have been doing in the recent past, I was showered with questions from all sides. Someone was questioning if my habits were eco-friendly or not, another person was asking me if I knew of the latest developments in green IT, another TM was checking if I knew the carbon footprint of my food and the difference I thought I made by being a vegetarian. To be honest, I was getting a little uncomfortable, when are they going to stop!!! These Devil’s advocates…
A very good afternoon to all present here, although I am sure you are thinking, environment, yet again?? Don’t worry; this is all I am going to talk about environment today. The rest of my speech deals with a breed most of us do not like much. Someone with huge protruding horns, dark masked face, and blood-shot eyes, big painted lips with a smirk forever in place, curly unruly hair, lean toned physique and a lawyer’s suit on!! Yes my speech deals with – the Devil’s Advocate!
Wikipedia defines a “Devil’s advocate” as someone who takes a position he or she does not necessarily agree with for the sake of argument. Thankfully, there is another definition as well for me to quote; else the toastmasters I just hinted at will all be counting moments when I come off stage to teach me manners. And that definition is where I fit my dear friends, someone who tests the quality of the original argument and identify weaknesses in its structure – a must for any solid discussion.
We all have our own wishes, aims, goals, ideologies; whims and fancies if you please. As a human being, all we care for is to fulfill them. Modifying President Lincoln, if I may, some of the people know all of what they want, all of the people know some of what they want but not all the people know all they want. Mostly, we take up something, convince ourselves that this is the best for us, and then start working on it. That is the easy part. The tough one comes, when those to whom we are answerable in one way or the other, want to know our reasons. That is when the Devil’s advocates come in handy. If you have spoken to them about your decisions before giving those answers, you are better prepared to be more convinced and in turn more convincing. Deriving from Xi Zhi “skepticism is directly proportional to understanding” Since it is tough to be skeptic of your own idea; thorough understanding can be derived with the help of Devil’s advocates.
Let me give you a real life example, I happened to be a part of. A friend of mine fell in love. Ah, one of the fabulous fantasies of the youth – Love. Back to the present, she told me that she can’t live without this guy, and is soon going to talk to her parents about it. The infamous me started with the questions: What does he do? How much does he earn? Is he educated well? Does he have any means of supporting you? Is he sober most of the time? Where does he belong to? How old is he? Are his parents nice? Does he have any siblings? What do they do? Are they well-educated? Shut up, in the name of God, Shut up!!! My friend was exasperated when I did not stop even after all these questions. Her parents asked her all these questions and more, and thanks to me, she had her answers ready. As of today, I guess they are in process of meeting the guy and planning on an engagement soon!
She listened to me because we have known and trusted each other for last 6 years now. But had it been someone else it probably would have turned out at her becoming extremely irritated at me and maybe never discussing anything else. And why not, we don’t want people poking their noses in our matters. But trust me friends, our friends do it knowingly; our foes do it to put us down; whichever way, the devil’s advocates help us in the long run! All we need to know is to take these conversations in a positive manner. So much so that these devil’s advocates finally give a statement like the one I got at the end of the rendezvous at TCS contest – ‘Man! This girl is irritatingly positive!’
What I have learned from my experiences with them is – Not to be baffled by opposition. Be positive, what you learn from them is up to you – either shake their hands and train yourself, or avoid their horns and train yourself! Reign in Hell or serve in Heaven! The choice is yours my friend and yes, I am there to act as the Devil’s advocate for you – anytime, without the look of course!!!