Wikipedia says that civil discourse is “engagement in discourse (conversation) intended to enhance understanding.” This is a pretty simple definition and it’s helpful to remember that there is nothing about changing someone’s mind, being right, winning, or proving a point. The key is “understanding.”
This is incredibly difficult even when in a calm rational state while talking with someone you generally agree with. This can feel impossible when your emotions are running wild and taking over, and to top it off, you are talking with someone who does not agree with anything you think or say. We do a lot of of talking and interacting with the first type of people, in our filter bubbles, echo chambers, and safe places. Its normal to want to surround yourself with like minded agreeable people. That’s comfortable.Order now
As soon as someone comes in and challenges that comfortable feeling our immediate instinct is to react really big and really fast! But, we need to do the opposite. Here are some suggestions for ways to make civil discourse with friends, family, and strangers a little easier for you.
Initiate and talk with someone open and curious. Avoid talking with people who are aggressive and intolerant. Both parties must agree to follow the rules and approach the discussion with an open mind. Be respectful and don’t antagonize or use loaded terms. Only focus on issues at hand, not an individual’s personality Accept that criticism or disagreement with your position or ideas is not a personal attack.
Control emotional response. Be curious and ok with not knowing something or being wrong. Recognize valid points that oppose you way of thinking. If uncomfortable and unable to continue to follow the ground rules, excuse yourself and put a pin in the conversation. Discuss, don’t talk down to or lecture to stay on the same level.
There isn’t an end game here, all we can hope for is an increased awareness in perspective and the complexity in the issues we so often disagree about. Be the bigger person and don’t react so quickly. Don’t let taunts, baiting, or overly dramatic headlines drag you in. Civil discourse requires slow non-impulsive consideration before responding.. Civil Discourse takes time and might need more than one conversation and the best is ongoing