What is the relevance?
A funny illustration of this point is found in the movie, “Kindergarten Cop”. Arnold is teaching the class and says something to the effect of, “Today, children, we are going to learn the alphabet.” Little Billy raises his hand. “Yes, Billy. What is it?”
Billy announces proudly, “My Daddy’s a Fireman!”
That’s great kid, we all thank your dad for his service, but NOT RELEVANT to the issue at hand.
I used to see this type of thing all the time when I was a street cop. I would catch some cat dealing crack and he would tell me about how the guy across the street how was selling crack too. Why didn’t I go arrest that guy instead? NOT RELEVANT.
I’ve seen it during break-ups of boyfriend and girlfriend. Boy gets caught cheating and he brings up the issue of her family members never liking him. NOT RELEVANT.
I’ve seen it when I had rental properties.
“You guys are 2 months late on the rent and you haven’t cut the grass all summer and the city sent me a citation.”
“Well, the cable company is charging more for the basic package, so we couldn’t buy a lawn mower or pay rent.” NOT RELEVANT.
So I don’t inflame already emotional thinkers, I don’t say, “NOT RELEVANT”. Instead I ask a series of questions:
How does that help us with the issue at hand?
How is this idea connected to the question?
How does that bear on the discussion?
How does this idea relate to that?
How does your question or statement pertain to what we are dealing with?
Usually irrelevant ideas come into the conversation from either misunderstanding the issues (Little Billy), or as misdirection from owning bad behavior (the boyfriend).