How to have a conversation. #10

As I had promised, here is the process you should go through, to productively discuss dire matters and or preferences.  I’ll take you through effective and practical steps you can take to have a civil conversation and annihilate the aura of animosity. 

To take the steps required, you have to know how your beliefs were formed. Think, how did you come to the conclusion. Were there facts you looked into, or maybe you actually ‘just’ formed a preference? Messi is my favorite football player. Nope, don’t argue with me on why Ronaldo is better, because I didn’t look into the facts to an apposite depth, he is just my favorite, even if Ronaldo wins 7 Ballon d’Ors. Maybe Ronaldo is better if we look into the facts or maybe Messi will come on top, either way the latter is my favorite. What just happened? Well I have made a preference out of what I have experienced of the play styles of the two. You can’t argue with me with facts and you shouldn’t at all. There is nothing to argue about, my preference to one athlete has no effect onto your player’s performance. Same for any athlete’s favoritism one might have. Why in the world do you want to argue about it? Now take it a bit sideways, if it comes down to preference (made by experience regardless of facts) rather than differentiating facts and information, then compromise is the way to go. There is no, “Because Shimla is colder than Srinagar, hence we are going there!” The statement implies that the opinion was made out of facts, check the facts. “No, actually Srinagar is colder.” There you go, problem solved. The person’s idea of preference was based on temperature and it got debunked, now you know where they are headed.

Step 1: Think about your view.

Yup. As Bruce Lee once said, “Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them”. Maybe, MAYBE, you ARE wrong. Just for the sake of worldly peace look into yourself. Take a good look into your opinion, is it morally correct, is it based on facts or is it just preference. Don’t fall for confirmation bias. Don’t go around looking for the ways your opinion is the best, look at the ways it might be wrong and then decide. Changing views, ideas, and beliefs is hard, our brains like to hold any thought for the sake of it, it hates change, it doesn’t care about right or wrong. But be conscious and think, thinking is hard, but powerful. You’ll also save yourself from a ton of embarrassment. These days social media apps like twitter spam you with chosen facts that make you ensconce on your ideas and opinions, it polarizes us all to an immense degree, be careful.

Step 2: Setting up the environment.

Okay step one is done and you know have come to the conclusion that you are right. How do I tell the other person that he/she is wrong? Right now, the question is, where do I tell the person he/she is wrong? Stop arguing over call and texts, I can’t emphasize this bit enough. Do not ever argue on calls or texts. I have been victim of text misinterpretation numerous times and the same on calls. I’m sure you have too. The voice tonality, facial expression, body language, all matter and now that they are missing, you can’t really  blame the other person on why they thought you meant, “Congratulations on your new job!” as a sarcasm. Because they have no way to figure out how you meant it. I have seen so many couple arguing over phone calls and the conversation turns to a death match in an instant. Just keep it in your head, don’t ever argue over something on texting or call. 

Find a quiet place, silent your phones and keep them in your pockets, don’t directly face each other. That instinctively comes off as predatory, not at all times but because the situation is already a bit off. That’s why conversation with new people seem much more relaxed when we walk, as we are beside each other, same for the teen lovers walking down the street, sit at an angle, you see that all the time in talk shows, there’s a reason for it. 

Step 3: Tape your mouth and unbolt your ears.

Even literally if required. A good way to do this is the talking pillow method. Assign a pillow the powers to talk that it transfers to person its with. Seems silly but incredibly effective. I’d suggest that you genuinely listen to what the other person has to say, even if they are wrong, it’ll let you know how they are wrong and how you can help them to take the right way. So, pass the pillow to them and until they give the pillow back to you, you are dumb as a pot. Take this seriously, don’t talk until he/she hands over the pillow, NOT EVEN A WORD. Don’t even nod in disapproval, that’ll come off as if you are in denial. 

Talking pillow scene Breaking Bad:-

Step 4: Time to talk.

Now that the person has talked for an hour and even let out a few piercing remarks or tears, your turn. Don’t care about the remarks, I mean don’t get back at them, act humble, be the wise woman/man in the situation. Now their are a few things to be taken care of: be careful of how to are going to talk, your tonality, your body language. Are you coming off as a wall or chair? Say, “Your coming late hurts me and makes me anxious”, rather than, “Your coming late is very irresponsible and childish.” If its an arguments on politics and stuff, facts are paramount. The thing is, if your way of stating the facts seem too offensive (in order to find the truth you have to risk being offensive) he/she might leave you hanging. Remember, the goal is the change of mind, not winning. So you have to improvise and act in respect to the person’s state. 

Step 5: Discuss and conclude.

This is a bit paradoxical actually. There is a chance things might take a U-turn and you are back at square one. Don’t worry follow the steps and repeat the cycle till you conclude. It all depends on the weight of the matter. The more lacerated the wound, the more intricate the process to heal it. George Bernard Shaw said it best, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place”.

Now that you’ve had a civil conversation in ample amount. Time to take the points one by one, the points you differ on and weigh them on the scale of facts and preferences. As you take your problems one by one, over and over again, days after days, the small details of your life will be strong and well rooted. Relationships will be healthy and your perceptions will be well thought out. Goal is to improve yourself and help others improve. 

“Communication – the human connection – is the key to personal and career success” – Paul J. Meyer


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