It's no secret that 2020 has been challenging and, at times, heartbreaking—filled with unexpected events and experiences.
Many people are quick to take polarized positions on topics ranging from the pandemic to police to the upcoming presidential election.
Social media feeds are not only filled with strong opinions and personal preferences, but also hurtful attacks and damaging prejudice and injustice. For many, these topics fuel hurtful responses and reactions among neighbors, friends, and family.
A recent survey conducted by The Dialogue Project of 5,000 adults in five countries (United States, Brazil, Germany, India, and the U.K.) reveals that more than three fourths (82%) of respondents said people need to be more respectful when talking with those who hold opposing views, but only half said they would spend more time doing so.
So how do you navigate discussing these tough topics with people you disagree with? And can these discussions actually be meaningful and fruitful?
Dave "Dr. Dave" Schramm from USU Extension joined us with some tips from the Better Arguments Project to help people get along better during tense times.
• Take Winning Off the Table. Passionate people with strong opinions are unlikely to change their perspective or position. The goal should be understanding and appreciation rather than arguing and winning.
• Be Present and Listen to Learn. Try to be fully present and listen with your whole head and body, instead of planning your rebuttal argument in your mind. Dare to understand a different perspective.
• Be Honest and Welcome Honesty from Others. Invite honesty and be open with your own feelings. It is possible to be both honest and kind. You can disagree without becoming disagreeable. If you feel the temperature rising, it's time for a break.
• Make Space for New Ideas and Room to Transform. Try to put yourself in someone else's shoes and challenge yourself to come up with three reasons why a different perspective makes sense.
• Connect and Respect. Don't be sarcastic, critical, or give subtle jabs during your conversation - they escalate quickly and feelings get hurt easily. You can feel right, but wrong at the top of your voice. In the end, people are more important than problems.
The key to civil dialogue and respectful conversations is to remain civil and respectful throughout the discussion. In the end, we might all do well to remember the importance of unity, living in the "United" States, "one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."