Can you talk so I will listen? Can you describe how you feel, simply and with facts? Can you do it without getting emotionally loud?
Most people can’t do that.
Most people never learned how to present what my 8th grade English teacher called a “persuasive argument.” In other words, how could we, as 14-year-olds, convince our parents that we really SHOULD be allowed to go on a date/wear make-up/take a plane trip by ourselves to visit Grandma? In 8th grade that was the kinds of things we thought about.
Now that we are adults, we have other issues that press our buttons. Politics is one. As the candidates are beginning to throw their hats into the ring for the 2016 Presidential primary and then election, we are already sharpening our swords and putting on armor.
Let’s try to do something different this time. Since the powers that be (the people pulling the strings behind the scenes) have all the right to talk that their money can buy, all we can do is IGNORE them.
What a concept! And only good up to a point.
They will still be carrying on, even if we try not to notice. And we really do need to participate in the attempt to TRY to have a say. So what is reasonable? What can we do?
First and foremost, we start by listening. Reading. Learning facts. For every candidate…not just the one or several you like. All of them. That is how you really know.
Read and listen without a chip on your shoulder. Be careful. You won’t like what you read but stay open enough to analyze carefully.
Remember to throw out anything about ANY issue or candidate if it is an editorial. Read only news. How can you know the difference?
News is neutral. It presents who, what, where, why and how. Nothing more. Nothing about how you should feel. No shoulds, woulds, coulds. Just the facts.
Editorials are full of emotional leading. They are a pretty bad example of persuasive arguments. There is a place for that but not when you are trying to gather facts. Editorials will pull you to a position. They will appeal to your sense of outrage and maybe also greed. But most of all, outrage. If you read something and it makes you angry, it was most likely an editorial.
Second, get into discussion with people who don’t feel the same way you do. Ask an open ended question. Then LISTEN to their explanation. Do not interrupt. Do not get emotional. Ask more questions. Discuss. Do not get emotional. Yes, I repeated myself. It bears repeating. Do not get emotional. Stay calm in the interest to learn something.
Then you get a chance to talk. This is when you use persuasive arguments to present your viewpoint. No emotions. After all, back in that middle school example, mom and dad are not going to let you go to the dance with that guy/girl if you act like a baby, right? Show your maturity. Now is the time, to show your maturity as an adult who wants to communicate. To understand, to help others understand.
Step by step, build your case for your candidate or position. Using sales techniques, get small agreements along the way. They still may not follow you to the final agreement, but the next time you talk you will understand each other better and it will make more sense.
If you don’t do this…read and listen, then engage in communication with people who feel other than you without emotion, then you are impotent……terribly communicationally impotent. What a shame. When it is something that can be cured and life would be so much more enjoyable.
April 14, 2015 at 12:57 pm
You aren’t taking into account all the studies indicating that the majority of any message transmitted between humans is non-verbal. Listening skills are great for your own learning and for gathering information needed to construct persuasive, fact-based arguments. But if your opponent is more at ease on camera, or has that “beer factor” (they come across as approachable and regular), they can spout complete bs and they will still trounce you in contest.
April 14, 2015 at 2:48 pm
I’m just pretty amazed at how many spout their bs without ever checking if the information they believe is actually factual. When someone posted something that made me wonder on Facebook this morning, it took me about 3 minutes to find an excellent source that even they would accept and post a link. He told me he didn’t have time for that kind of checking. The ability to continue to converse (albeit in writing on FB) in a calm manner was not easy but I knew there would be no way he would ever consider checking his facts if I acted ugly.
April 14, 2015 at 3:56 pm
Yes, I’m amazed as well at how people can’t be bothered to fact-check assertions, or even quotes (often misattributed to Gandhi, Churchill, MLK etc.)
I didn’t mean to imply that learning to construct a persuasive argument isn’t important. I just don’t believe it’s a deciding factor in political contests.
Think how well Ronald Reagan came across. His style of verbal delivery, learned from decades of acting, managed to disguise public awareness of his Alzheimer’s!
April 14, 2015 at 8:56 pm
It IS very easy to be swayed by someone with charisma saying words we want to hear. Good point about Reagan…and he wasn’t even that good an actor LOL