Co-intelligent New Years Resolutions? 11 Ways to Speak to People Who Disagree

Here are some great ways that we – me definitely included – can change our ways towards greater co-intelligence. – Tom

11 Ways to Speak to People Who Disagree

by Lynne McTaggart

  1. Keep alert for “Us versus Them” thinking, language, and actions. As soon as you start generalizing about one race or ethnic group of people—whether Republicans, Muslims, or even bankers—you have defined a group as “them.” Expunge this kind of language from your vocabulary.
  2. Separate out gradations of belief. The idea that all the people who hold a certain view have the same exact position is a stereotype. As psychologist, Dr Don Beck, co-creator of Spiral Dynamics system, once described, “Fine gradations of belief exist among people who appear to agree, and most of us outside of a belief system don’t appreciate the wide spectrum of beliefs held within any given position.” Pro-choice advocates, for instance, have widely divergent views from each other, from those who believe that abortion is justified in all circumstances to those who believe abortion is justified only in cases of rape. Seek to identify these fine distinctions in beliefs or practices so that you do not miss a chance to find common ground.
  3. Seek out kernels of truth in any opposing position rather than the differences in views between the other person and yourself.
  4. Mentally swap roles with someone else. Imagine the issue from the polar opposite of your own position and offer as many solid arguments in favor of that position as you can. This helps you to take a larger perspective on the issue. By the same token, try to imagine someone else looking at your ideas. What do you think they see?
  5. Share honestly and reveal your backstory – why you have come to believe what you believe. Encourage the other to do the same.
  6. Experiment with a positive description of your differences. Instead of complaining, “Those atheist heathens don’t go to church,” think and say, “How interesting—atheists believe in a natural intelligence.”
  7. Listen actively—with your heart, mind, and soul. Listen to other things besides what the speaker is saying: how he describes things, what he emphasizes or where he places the most energy, how he holds his body, how he appears to feel.
  8. Uncover the hidden connections between you and other people, whether in your faith, your locality, your citizenship, your sex, or your local or national interests. Both Republicans and Democrats have many identical interests: a love of family, God, children, home, and country. All of us want to fix the economy, the roads, the government, the high price of gasoline, our educational system. Working out how to do so together affords us an opportunity to come together for a larger goal, at which point superficial differences diminish in importance.
  9. During differences, seek to change the space between you. Change the energy that flows between you by changing your tempo, your attitude, your facial expressions. Make your body language and unspoken communication transmit your desire to connect.
  10. Ask questions to clarify your understanding, not to score points, and use language that empowers the other. Instead of “What are you doing about X?,” which sounds accusatory (as if they aren’t doing enough), say, “What would you like to see done about X?”
  11. Finally, send that person some positive intention while he or she is telling you about their beliefs and position.
    Try using these with people who are not like you and see what happens. You may well find that deep down you aren’t that different after all, and even if you are, there’s a way for both your truths to co-exist.

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