sRaise your hand if you’ve recently been involved in a humiliating argument that started as an attempt at a civil discussion about some heated issue. Many of us have, and with a high-stakes election approaching, Already a fiery letter It will likely only intensify.
While it may seem satisfying at the moment, calling someone a whistle – insert your favorite insulting term here – will never help them understand your point. Instead, experts in persuasive communication say, it’s essential to focus on curiosity and compassion, and make it clear that you don’t think the person you’re talking to is the enemy — or look down upon.
David Campet, founder of Al-Hawar Company, which trains people to handle difficult conversations more effectively. “Especially now, with a higher level of polarization, it is imperative that we learn how to have a good conversation across different perspectives.”
Each year, Kurt Gray asks the students in his classes if they had a conversation that changed their minds about topics like abortion or immigration. says Gray, MD, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he directs deep belief lab and the Center for the Science of Ethical Understanding. “It is possible, but it is not easy, and it is not repetitive.”
However, some strategies can make trying more effective. Here, experts share research-backed strategies that can actually help you change someone’s mind.
Entering the conversation with the right mindset is key – and that means striving to be calm, calm, collected and open to learning. If you’re excited, and know you might explode, revisit the problem again, Campt advises.
It also suggests revealing any tension or weakness to your conversation partner. “Our tendency is to want to hide it, but acknowledging the fact that you’re nervous is really helpful, because it tends to soften people.”
Search by Gray et al., published in The nature of human behavior In September, he offers additional helpful guidance: Don’t assume the person you’re talking to hates you, even if you have different political views. According to the findings, both Republicans and Democrats overestimate the extent to which the other side is dehumanized by as much as 300%. “If you start a conversation thinking that person hates your guts and doesn’t want to listen, it’s going to be a bad conversation,” Gray says. “Research shows that correcting this misconception – that the other party doesn’t hate your side as you thought – is really a powerful way to reduce partisan hostility.”
Whatever your partner shares in the conversation, it’s important to listen without judgment and with empathy, says David McCraney, author of 2022. How Minds Change: The Surprising Science of Faith, Opinion, and Persuasion and host of the science podcast You are not very smart.
“If you report that they should be ashamed, or stupid or naive, they will push against you in a way that destroys the possibility of moving forward in a conversation that will in fact change their mind in some way or other causing them to re-evaluate the matter.
Read more: The art of persuasion in the age of polarization
Search Posted in psychology In October I found that empathizing with people you disagree with can make your political arguments more persuasive. Using terms such as “I agree,” “we all want,” and “I understand that” can help indicate empathy.
If your empathy tank is running low, Campett suggests three ways to help fill it: First, imagine the person you were talking to as a young child. Next, magnify the positive moment you had with them, or think about some of the ambitions they have that you support. These exercises can help us “open our hearts” and promote the best possible environment for a challenging conversation, he says.
Find common ground
If you’re trying to change someone’s mind, the conversation can’t revolve around correction: it should be about communication, says Campet. He recommends opening up the conversation by finding something you can both agree on.
Read more: It’s time for white people to have tough conversations with their white friends and relatives
If someone declares that protests against the police should stop, for example, you can agree that there are definitely good police officers. Campett, who consults in the areas of diversity, inclusion and equity and is the creator of the White Ally Toolkit, says an anti-racism book. He thinks strategy is ABC: agree before challenge. It can help put people in an open mind before you invite them to new thinking.
Tell stories, not just facts
Gray stresses that releasing the facts to the person you are talking to will never be effective. Sharing personal experiences and accounts is likely to resonate much more.
Research published in 2016 Supports this idea: Door-to-door survey advocates for transgender rights engaged in deep thought with voters about transphobia, and spoke about their experiences and opinions. These conversations significantly reduced voter phobia over the next three months. Measure it by follow-up surveys. “Sharing and communicating on a human level was more effective than arguing,” says Gray. Oftentimes, people think that the best thing to do is argue as forcefully as possible, but this is not the case.
It’s easy for someone to refute facts, says Campet, but it’s hard to refute experiments. This is why it can be helpful to ask questions about the person’s experiences, rather than their beliefs, that clarify their point of view – and to avoid attacking them. Let’s say you’re talking to someone who doesn’t vote, he says, and you want to change their mind. A person might say that no politicians actually listen; Instead of telling them it’s not true, share a story about a time in your life when you felt like politicians didn’t hear you. This will help you and your conversation partner feel that you are on the same side. Then, tell them another story: an experiment that helped prove that politicians were, in fact, listening — and how you knew and why it matters. Sharing stories helps build trust and It encourages everyone to open upCampet says, while broadening horizons.
Open the door for introspection
McCrany says that many people feel strongly about contentious issues but never stop classifying the specific reasons for it. He adds that there are ways “to make space for this person to actually develop their first opinion on the matter.”
For example, you might start by asking someone: On a scale of 1 to 10, how do you feel about gun control? Suppose the person responds with 7. Why not 6 or 10? Often, when you ask this follow-up question, they stop and say, “Okay…” before offering an explanation—perhaps the first explanation they explain, even to themselves. At this point, the person you are talking to may discover that their opinions are not as strong as they thought, and that there is room for flexibility.
“What you want to do is create a space where you can go shoulder to shoulder, and say, ‘I think you’re a rational, rational person,’” McCrany says. “I think we might agree on a lot of the same problems in this world. I’m wondering why we disagree on this particular issue, and I’d like your permission to investigate this together.”
Know when to take a break
Inevitably, some conversations will degenerate into arguments. If the person you’re talking to insults you, Campet recommends saying, “I want to go back to before you said so,” and replay the conversation.
It is also good to take breaks. If things start to escalate, step away from the excuse of visiting the bathroom, Campet suggests, and take a moment to prepare yourself before deciding whether and how to proceed.
If you’re online, set limits
To prove it Fruitful conversations on social media Rare, look no further than hostile Twitter threads and long-running aggressive Facebook comments. You’re often anonymous, you can’t see the other person’s face, and it’s easy to misunderstand their words and intentions, Gray says online.
But Dr. Karen Tamirios is a psychiatrist and founder of the site smart policy– which teach people how to communicate more productively and persuasively – Online platforms are one of the most fruitful places for political discourse.
She recommends these four steps:
1. Humanize yourself. Social media users often forget that they are talking to real people, not emotionless bots. When she joins a new conversation, Tamerius always introduces herself, telling others her name and that it’s nice to meet them. “In 90% of cases, it’s enough for them to immediately change their orientation,” she says. “It puts them in a different script.”
2. Set boundaries. Put the request this way, Tamirius suggests: “I want to have this conversation with you, but we can’t have it if you’re calling me names or questioning my motives. Can we agree to treat each other with respect and try to understand each other’s perspective?” She says people agree in most of the time.
3. If these limits are exceeded, issue a reminder. Someone might get so caught up in quick responses that they forget to follow the rules that govern the conversation. In that case, call them and give them another chance.
4. If the behavior remains a problem, block or mute it. Don’t feel bad about getting disconnected, especially if the conversation becomes abusive. “I told them what I’m doing and why I’m doing it,” Tamerius says. “And then I tell them, ‘If at some point you’re ready to engage in a more productive way, you’re welcome to come back.’ I leave the door open, so they know this isn’t personal.”
Maintain a certain degree of separation from the outcome
Have you ever tried to hold a butterfly in your hands? What happens, says Campet, is that you “often push the butterfly out of the way by the wind you’re making to get to it.”
The same risks come with pushing your conversation partner too hard. Instead, maintain a healthy amount of detachment from the outcome. Your emotional and mental health should not depend on the other person changing their mind about an issue.
Campett adds that it may be helpful to keep in mind that this is the first attempt, and not the only – or last – chance you will have to speak up. “You try to learn and understand,” he says, gathering information that you will use in the next conversation, and the conversation after.
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