Frustrated by the ever-more-extreme level of division and discussion? Also frustrated by the lack of enough tea in your life?
So here’s some guidelines to restore sanity:
- First check yourself: are you at all open to new information?
- No, I know I’m right: Stop. You are part of the problem. Your need to shout your position comes from either fear or anger. Figure yourself out before engaging. Perhaps a cup of tea will help you consider things properly.
- Yes: good, you are one side of hopefully a two-sided discussion.
- Before you say anything, can you state the other side’s position in a way they would find acceptable?
- No: Ask more questions until you can. People find it hard to listen until they have been heard.
- Yes: Good job, you are not adding to the problem.
- Can you state the problems with their position without resulting to name calling?
- No: Perhaps a cup of tea might help? Come back and try again later.
- Yes: Excellent, you are less likely to alienate them for unrelated reasons.
- Can you state your position a way that invites them to consider your side and keeps them from feeling stupid or attacked?
- No, they are obviously stupid: Okay sparky, back to the tea for you.
- Yes: Good, the only way someone will be open to change is if there’s a welcome and open door for it.
- Can provide backup (preferably unbiased) for your position?
- No: Perhaps you need to state your position as an opinion then, and keep an open mind to changing your opinion.
- Yes: Well done, we are on stable ground here.
- Have they seen the light of your position and are considering it?
- No: Go back to asking questions so you can understand why not. Questions are the only thing that inspire change.
- Yes: Great, now be absolutely sure to not mock their previous stance. Change is hard and you must be welcoming and nurturing, not boastful.
- Have you stated your position, provided backup reference, and they still won’t change their mind?
- Yes: you might be dealing with someone who didn’t pass step one on this list. I recommend you have some tea instead of continuing.
If everyone followed this lovely checklist we might make some real progress.
Now I’m off to make some tea.