Heated political arguments between liberals and conservatives over divisive topics often end up with personal gripes and animosities. Family ties are critical to a normal and healthy life. Good friendships are precious and no less important. Firmly entrenched opinions leading to shouting matches often tarnish or even ruin what should be close and treasured relationships. However, some topics are just too important to refuse to discuss. Challenging one another’s views helps everyone involved to actually learn something and think more critically and intelligently about the issues involved. The following are five diplomatic approaches taken from psychologists and clear-thinking, tactful individuals.
Always keep the other person’s background in mind:
“Before you even start a conversation with someone, take a step back and think about how their life may have shaped their opinions. Science communication research demonstrates that people’s past experiences and beliefs can act as a perceptual filter and may change how people interact with scientific evidence.
“Scientists have traditionally defaulted to a ‘deficit model’ for communicating science. The assumption is that people don’t trust the science on a certain topic because they don’t yet know enough about it. The solution? Simply tell people the facts, thereby remedying their knowledge deficit and increasing their support for scientific ideas and practices. Unfortunately for scientists, the deficit model has proven time and again to be faulty. Past experiences and cultural and religious identity shape how people interact with facts, and in some cases have a greater influence in shaping the opinions of people on controversial topics than actual knowledge about the topic. This holds true for topics from climate change to medical genetics…..
“We can shape how we approach complex conversations by learning from the mistakes of the deficit model. Lecturing to people is unproductive, especially since experiences and personal identity have as much of an influence on opinions about a topic as facts, if not more. Instead, take the time to understand your conversation partner’s past experiences and beliefs. Use this information to tailor your message specifically to the identity of the person to whom you are talking.”
Conversations on Polarizing Topics Are Possible. If You’re Up for It, Here’s How to Start https://behavioralscientist.org/conversations-on-polarizing-topics-are-possible-if-youre-up-for-it-heres-how-to-start/
Actively listen and acknowledge the opinions and heart-felt concerns of the other person:
“Active listening is a skill that can be acquired and developed with practice. However, active listening can be difficult to master and will, therefore, take time and patience to develop. 'Active listening' means, as its name suggests, actively listening. That is fully concentrating on what is being said rather than just passively ‘hearing’ the message of the speaker.
“Active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening - otherwise the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.
“Interest can be conveyed to the speaker by using both verbal and non-verbal messages such as maintaining eye contact, nodding your head and smiling, agreeing by saying ‘Yes’ or simply ‘Mmm hmm’ to encourage them to continue. By providing this 'feedback' the person speaking will usually feel more at ease and therefore communicate more easily, openly and honestly.
“Listening is the most fundamental component of interpersonal communication skills. Listening is not something that just happens (that is hearing), listening is an active process in which a conscious decision is made to listen to and understand the messages of the speaker. Listeners should remain neutral and non-judgmental, this means trying not to take sides or form opinions, especially early in the conversation. Active listening is also about patience - pauses and short periods of silence should be accepted.
“Listeners should not be tempted to jump in with questions or comments every time there are a few seconds of silence. Active listening involves giving the other person time to explore their thoughts and feelings, they should, therefore, be given adequate time for that.”
Active Listening https://www.skillsyouneed.com/ips/active-listening.html
Use personal stories to help change someone’s mind:
“Stories have a transformative power to allow us to see the world in a different way than we do if we just encounter it on our own. Stories are an entry point to understanding a different experience of the world.
“This aspect of storytelling – presenting a different perspective of the world – is important when it comes to connecting with each other. It gives us an opportunity to learn from another person’s experience and it can shape, strengthen or challenge our opinions and values. When a story catches our attention and engages us, we are more likely to absorb the message and meaning within it than if the same message was presented simply in facts and figures.
“When someone tells us their own personal story, we catch a glimpse of a view of the world that may be slightly or radically different from our own. When we see the world as they see it, or walk in their shoes, the experience can inspire empathy within them.
“We can relate to an individual much more easily than a group. First-person narratives are helpful in seeing people as individuals rather than as a group, like ‘patients’, ‘refugees’ or ‘the homeless’. Storytelling and listening is a two-way process. There’s some evidence from neuroscience, which suggests that when I’m telling you a story and you’re listening to my story, our brain patterns begin to mirror one another. We are connecting, and the empathy is on not just an emotional but a physical level.”
The power of storytelling https://www.health.org.uk/newsletter-feature/power-of-storytelling
Give the other person an out:
“People really hate admitting they're wrong (don't judge, this is doubtlessly true for you too), and it's impossible to bash through this stubbornness by sheer force. The more you demand that someone admit they were wrong or foolish, the deeper they'll generally dig themselves into their current opinion.
“Instead, ‘give the mind an out,’ suggests scientist-turned-lawyer Ozan Varol. ‘The key is to trick the mind by giving it an excuse. Convince your own mind (or your friend) that your prior decision or prior belief was the right one given what you knew, but now that the underlying facts have changed, so should the mind,’ he continues.
“Yes, this demands a degree of self-restraint, as insulting others or gloating can give you a quick jolt of satisfaction. But ‘the moment you belittle the mind for believing in something, you've lost the battle,’ cautions Varol.”
Forget Facts: 3 Ways to Actually Change Someone's Mind https://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/forget-facts-3-ways-to-actually-change-someones-mi.html
Gently lead people from their comfort zones:
Lauren Schieffer, communications consultant, speaker, and author:
“Don't push them too far out of their comfort zone. My experience has shown me that forcing people out of their comfort zone rarely works. People forced outside their comfort zone are frankly … uncomfortable. So, at the earliest opportunity, they scurry back to where they feel secure. Two steps forward and two steps back takes them right back where they were, and the next time you try to pry them out of that security, they will be more resistant to doing so. Instead, gently encourage them to expand their comfort zone. Just like a latex balloon that once blown up never returns to its original size, once expanded, their safe space will forever be larger. That means they will be more willing to expand their safe space the next time you need them to grow.”
Leadership experts share 10 simple methods to change someone's mind https://www.inverse.com/mind-body/10-simple-methods-to-changing-someones-mind
16 Quick Tips To Enhance Clarity Of Thought https://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2019/05/16-quick-tips-to-enhance-clarity-of.html
30 Prying and Probing Questions To Bolster Critical Thinking http://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2016/10/30-prying-and-probing-questions-to.html
The Evil of “Woke”: Black Feminist On Call-Out Culture https://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2020/11/the-evil-of-woke-black-feminist-on-call.html