We need to talk

It might seem like there’s a theme here, but we need to talk.

More specifically, we need to talk about the way we talk. It seems that the conversation, particularly in politics, is more and more radicalized. In the US it’s become quite obvious: you’re us or them, your the liberal snowflake or the pro-Trump redneck, you are a category. Each of your opinions instantly makes you fit in a box, and you get all the attributes of said box, end of story. Others follow suit: political debates are more and polarized, to the point where they don’t qualify as debate anymore, it’s mainly people shouting at each other and whoever speaks over the others can claim to have “won” whatever was at stake. And not just on CNN.

But it’s getting us nowhere. And I know it’s easy to feel like we are right and the others should just listen to us, especially since most issues become so politicized it seems there’s only one right answer or the abyss, and it gets profoundly emotional. But the good solutions are never ideological, and more importantly nobody has them all.

So how do we go back to actually discussing things, and getting together to the best answer? There are many ways, but one might be to apply to political debates and discussions a couple of ideas that are actually good life advice as well. The first of them all is that everybody believes they are right, and everybody believes they are the good guys. Only a few people out there will make an argument they don’t believe in just to annoy you, and this is not a guide to deal with Twitter trolls. So, instead of feeling personally attacked by a different opinion it does help to ask questions, to try to understand how people came to that conclusion and that belief. It helps to see why they are convinced they are right, and how you can actually discuss the root of the issue and come to agree.

I have a hard time actually doing this, because most issues I discuss are very close to my heart, but just yelling at someone won’t convince them, while listening can. It helps to remember that everyone has a story to tell, and listening and understanding can go a long way towards making them feel heard, which will then allow them to hear a different viewpoint more easily. And it works the other way around too: explaining why you believe something instead of just shouting that it’s right will go a long way. Everybody has a story, and it’s worth listening to.

Don’t take my word on it: this guy says it much better:

 

It is better said than done, and it sounds annoying and patronizing. But it works, it really works, and we desperately need good conversations. The issues we face are larger than us, and no one can fix them all. We need all the good will we can get, and we need to stick together. Summer is coming.

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