Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Somebody’s Watching Me: the Importance of a Good Attitude Outside the Round

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They’re in the lobby. They’re in the bathroom. They’re in the lunch line. They’re in ballot distribution, judge orientation, and ballot return. They’re in the hospitality room. They’re even in the hangout room. THEY’RE EVERYWHERE!!!!!  Who are they? Your judges. 

(Feel judged, yet?)

You never know who could be your judge. That nice man who helped carry your debate boxes or that parent you ignored. Whoever your judge may be, he or she could very well be watching you at any point in the tournament, and what they see could affect their judgment. Speakers should be certain to have polite and courteous interaction with adults, their friends, and fellow competitors at a tournament.

 1) Interaction with Adults
The golden rule of interactions with parents or any adults is simple: be respectful. No matter whom you’re talking to, you should treat each adult with respect. Even if you know the adult you are interacting with will never judge you, other judges are watching– you don’t want to give a bad impression to anyone. One way to be respectful is to show gratitude; all tournament staff members deserve a simple “thank you for your time and effort you have put into this tournament!” Also, if you see any adult in need of assistance, offer to help them! One time, I saw a senior adult in the women’s restroom unable to find the paper towels. After helping her locate the towels and thanking her for coming to judge, she smiled and thanked me as well. Little did I know at the time that she would be my judge in a debate outround and impromptu semifinals! You never know who your judges are. Be respectful to every adult, not only because it could hurt you if you were disrespectful, but also because it’s the right thing to do.

2) Interaction with Friends
The most popular place at a debate tournament is the hangout room. Full of coolers, snacks, music, and friends, the hangout room is the perfect place to relax after a hard round and prepare for the next one. However, you want to make sure you have the proper balance of relaxation, fun, and seriousness. While the hangout room is a great place to chill and have fun, you want to make sure you are still behaving somewhat professional. Remember, parents go in the hangout room too. If a parent sees you acting disrespectfully or causing trouble, that parent’s perception of you will be tainted, which can be hard to overcome in a debate or speech round. Make sure you treat everyone in the hangout room with kindness. That little boy you yelled at because he stole some candy? His mom could judge you the next round. The person whose suit you laughed at? Her debate coach could be your next speech judge. Be even more careful with how you interact with your friends outside the hangout room. I remember at a tournament one of my friends literally laid on the floor of a hallway– right as a judge walked by. I jokingly told him that would be his judge. I was right. 

 3) Interaction with Competitors
Speakers must be sure to treat their fellow competitors with class and respect. If you faced a debater that might not have been the greatest opponent, don’t compliment the speaker after the round, and then go tell all your friends how horrible he was. If you’ve ever had a judicial issue with an opponent, after the incident, don’t ruminate and tell all your friends about it. If you just had a bad debate round, don’t let it affect your attitude. Why? All of these things will have two negative impacts: 1. You will bring your bad attitude into the round. If you are feeling over confident in your skills, you will sound arrogant. If you have a particular bias against someone, debating him or her can become personal and the round can become heated. If you are discouraged after a debate, that melancholy attitude can easily carry into your other speech and debate rounds, hindering your effectiveness as a speaker. If you have a bad attitude about a competitor, it will negatively impact your speaking and debating style. 2. You will earn a bad reputation among judges. While people shouldn’t judge you by your reputation, you must realize that they do. If you have a negative attitude parents will notice and begin to silently judge you outside the round. If you are always angry with fellow competitors, they might be less likely to vote for you. If you are a sore loser, parents begin to think you are too competitive. How you act has an impact on the judges’ judgment. Be respectful to those around you– you never know if that parent is your future judge!


Rebecca is a 16-year-old from Pike Road, AL. She basically lives in speech and debate, but in her spare time enjoys playing piano and singing for her church’s youth praise team. She has won over 45 titles over her five years of speech and debate, including first place Team Policy at Regionals in 2011.

One Response so far.

  1. You are brilliant. Thank you.

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