November 14, 2017
“Great discoveries and improvements invariably involve the cooperation of many minds.”
Alexander Graham Bell
I worry that too many of us have let ourselves become so polarized that we have lost our ability to communicate with people who don’t agree with us. I hope I am wrong for if we spend too much of our time arguing we have little time left for finding solutions.
What must the children think when the ears are filled with venomous comments from folks intent on degrading others. The great gains in society have come from the concerted efforts of those who sought consensus rather than those who close their minds to alternatives.
I recently read about a presentation made by Megan Phelps-Roper during a TED talk. Many of us would benefit if we heeded her advice.
4 tips for talking to people you disagree with
- Don’t assume bad intent. Assuming ill motives almost instantly cuts us off from truly understanding why someone does and believes as they do. We forget they’re a human being with a lifetime of experience that shaped their mind, we get stuck on that first wave of anger, and the conversation has a very hard time ever moving beyond it. But when we assume good or neutral intent, we give our minds a much stronger framework for dialogue.
- Ask questions. When we engage people across ideological divides, asking questions helps us map the disconnect between our differing points of view. That’s important because we can’t present effective arguments if we don’t understand where the other side is actually coming from and it gives them an opportunity to point out flaws in our positions.
But asking questions serves another purpose; it signals to someone they’re being heard. When my friends on Twitter stopped accusing and started asking questions, I almost automatically mirrored them. Their questions gave me room to speak, but they also gave me permission to ask them questions and truly hear their responses. It fundamentally changed the dynamic of our conversation.
- Stay calm. This takes practice and patience, but it’s powerful. People often lament that digital communication makes us less civil, but this is one advantage that online conversations have over in-person ones. We have a buffer of time and space between us and the people whose ideas we find so frustrating. We can use that buffer. Instead of lashing out, we can pause, breathe, change the subject or walk away, and then come back to it when we’re ready.
- Make the argument. This might seem obvious, but one side effect of having strong beliefs is we sometimes assume that the value of our position is, or should be, obvious and self-evident; that we shouldn’t have to defend our positions because they’re so clearly right and good; that if someone doesn’t get it, it’s their problem — that it’s not my job to educate them. But if it were that simple, we would all see things the same way.
The most powerful force ever known on this planet is human cooperation – a force for construction and destruction.
An atheist was taking a walk through the woods, admiring all that the “accident of evolution” had created. “What majestic trees! What powerful rivers! What beautiful animals!”, he said to himself. As he was walking alongside the river he heard a rustling in the bushes behind him. He turned to look.
He saw a 7-foot grizzly charge towards him. He ran as fast as he could up the path. He looked over his shoulder and saw that the bear was closing. He ran even faster, so scared that tears were coming to his eyes. He looked over his shoulder again, and the bear was even closer.
His heart was pumping frantically and he tried to run even faster. He tripped and fell on the ground. He rolled over to pick himself up but saw the bear; right on top of him, reaching for him with his left paw and raising his right paw to strike him.
At that instant the Atheist cried out “Oh my God!….”
Time stopped. The bear froze. The forest was silent. Even the river stopped moving.
As a bright light shone upon the man, a voice came out of the sky, “You deny my existence for all of these years; teach others I don’t exist; and even credit creation to a cosmic accident. Do you expect me to help you out of his predicament? Am I to count you as a believer?”
The atheist looked directly into the light “It would be hypocritical of me to suddenly ask You to treat me as Christian now, but perhaps could you make the bear a Christian?”
“Very well,” said the voice. The light went out. The river ran again. And the sounds of the forest resumed.
And then the bear dropped his right paw… brought both paws together… bowed his head and spoke: “Lord, for this food which I am about to receive, I am truly thankful.”
If you find yourself in an argument with a woman, plead insanity–they never argue with that.
No matter what we learned from the movies, when they make me the Evil Overlord I will: Be secure in my superiority. Therefore, I will feel no need to prove it by leaving clues in the form of riddles or leaving my weaker enemies alive to show they pose no threat.
Make sure that one of my advisors will be an average five-year-old child. Any flaws in my plan that he is able to spot will be corrected before implementation.
That all slain enemies are cremated, or at least have several rounds of ammunition emptied into them, not left for dead at the bottom of the cliff. The announcement of their deaths, as well as any accompanying celebration, will be deferred until after the aforementioned disposal.
That the hero is not entitled to a last kiss, a last cigarette, or any other form of last request.
Never employ any device with a digital countdown. If I find that such a device is absolutely unavoidable, I will set it to activate when the counter reaches 117 and the hero is just putting his plan into operation.
Never utter the sentence “But before I kill you, there’s just one thing I want to know.”
A Smith and Wesson beats four aces.
“Hello, Bill,” exclaimed Jim, meeting a buddy for the first time in a while. “Did you marry that girl you used to go with or are you still doing your own cooking and ironing?”
“Yes,” replied Bill.
A store manager overheard a clerk saying to a customer, “No, ma’am, we haven’t had any for some weeks now, and it doesn’t look as if we’ll be getting any soon.” Alarmed by what was being said, the manager rushed over to the customer who was walking out the door and said, “That isn’t true, ma’am. Of course, we’ll have some soon. In fact, we placed an order for it a couple of weeks ago.” Then the manager drew the clerk aside and growled, “Never, never, never, never say we don’t have something. If we don’t have it, say we ordered it and it’s on its way. Now, what was it she wanted?” The clerk smiled and said… “Rain…”
“Willingness to compromise with others’ ways of living and cooperation in common tasks, these make living happy and fruitful.”
Sri Sathya Sai Baba
Management is not responsible for duplicates from previous dailies. The editor is somewhat senile.
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