If you read my ramblings now and then, you know that the subject matter took a sharp turn recently. It was my attempt at inserting a little reason into some of the issues that divide the American public. If you are curious about which issues I mean, there is not any one in particular – just take your pick.
So, why get involved in such a big mess and why now? Well, Michael Jackson gave us that answer in one of his many hits some years ago. To bring about change, “I’m starting with the man in the mirror.” It’s a bit corny but effective use of pop culture references tend to get the point across.
Few people know me well enough to know that I do not argue. I will discuss and debate almost any topic with anyone for hours; but if the volume of the discussion begins to rise or accusations begin to fly, I’m done. My final words will likely be, “lets agree to disagree”. That is neither a comment nor question. It simply means that the conversation is over.
There are hundreds of ways to have a civil conversation with people you don’t agree with. If you practice these two rules you will be dragged into fewer arguments and learn something from practically every interaction. Begin by seeking first to understand before being understood. Most people never realize that they have twice as many ears as they do mouths. Think about that when talking with anyone who has a different opinion than you concerning the topic at hand. It may help you listen more intently and that will allow you to pose a more meaningful response. The other rule is not to make it your goal to change the other person’s mind. If your goal is only to inform and not to convince someone to adopt your opinion, there is nothing to get upset about during your exchange. It sounds simple, but you will have to flex your mental muscles to pull it off. Just like with working out your actual muscles, you will get better at discussion and debate with practice. Once you are good at it, you will be amazed at how much you can learn from even a raving lunatic.