Watching the Spaceship Media presentation call “How to have a civil conversation on tough topics” gave me some helpful tips about civil dialog. Many of us have been in situations, out of the blue, a conversation can have you on the defense. I didn’t see that coming. I am using one tip to repeat what was said to me and ask the person if you want to go forward with this conversation. Ask them why? Now the key is to listen to what they have to say. Please give them your full attention. On the other hand, I can learn from their story things that I would have never thought about before. “Never judge a man until you have walked a mile in his moccasins link”.(Native American Proverb)
Be kind. We are not here to save the world. We are not always right. Listen to others and show kindness, even if you disagree. We all have our own beliefs that we cling to for our reasons. Arguing your point will not make their belief change. Facts don’t change minds. But your kindness can.
When I was in high school, a classmate came up to me at lunch, and we began to talk. She got real ticked off midway through the conversation and started saying negative things about African Americans. I continued to listen to her and let her finish venting. I quietly told her I am African American. Her face flushed with red, and her mouth dropped open. She began to cry. She told me she did not know I was African American, or she would have never said those things. I told her I did not think she would say those things either, or I probably would not have started a conversation with her.
But I saw she needed to vent. So I listened. I told her I disagree with what she said, and she sounds like she has never been around people of color herself. She admitted that it was true. But mostly, she was so stunned that I was calm and kind to her. After that encounter, she would ask me advice about race-related questions, and over time we actually became friends. Civil conversations don’t mean we will have the answer, but it allows us to build relationships and hear each other’s views.
Tell the truth. “Where there is no regard for the truth, there is no safe society.”( McKay) If you don’t know the truth convey; this is your opinion. Use wisdom when speaking. Try not to talk just to hear your voice. Choose your words carefully before you speak. Don’t demean others to make your point. Be courteous and respectful in all conversations.
Family conversations about politics are the hardest. You can’t step away from your family or unfriend family members. When listening to family members, try to understand where they are coming from and build peace instead of being right. Building peace communicates deeper than facts; it shows the individual that I still accept you as you are despite not agreeing with you.
Our country America is a big experiment. We have a melting pot of ethnicities, races, religions, and genders, together with different views and life experiences. We all can’t be right, and we all can’t be wrong. We just are different, like a patchwork quilt. Learning to have a dialog with a civil conversation will be one of the most significant accomplishments we can achieve for helping relationships, communities, and society.
McKay, Brett&Kate. November 14, 2017. 12 rules for civil conversation. Get Action AOM. Retrieved December 1, 2020https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/12-rules-civil-conversation/