In a day and age in which volatility permeates everyday discourse, the art of civility is more vital than ever. Being able to hold a conversation without losing your cool is a skill becoming less and less common. If you’re looking for one clear way to be set apart from the competition in your field, here’s an easy way to do it: learn how to talk to someone with opposing beliefs without blowing a fuse.
And coming from someone who has blown so many fuses he purely runs on fumes, I promise that I have been there, and have wanted to strangle that person as much as I’m sure you do. But not only can we not do that, the only way to move forward is through a dialogue of compromise and civility. So how do we do that?
Remember that you’re talking to a person. If you’re going to keep it together, you need to remind yourself that at the other end of the conversation is a human being with their own-very VALID-emotions, thoughts, and feelings. The more you lose it, the more they’ll be tempted to lose it; or worse, not lose it at all, and make you look like a temperamental teenager throwing a tantrum.
Do not misinterpret a discussion or a debate for a platform to shove your beliefs down anyone’s throats. Civility is about equal flow of information, and they are as convinced they are as right as you are. But if everyone sits around telling everyone how right they are, no one gets anywhere. So when someone speaks, don’t zone out until they take a breath so that you get to speak. Someone else speaking is a chance for you to learn about them and from them. Take advantage of the fact that they have chosen to open up to you in that manner.
3. Be Open
This is the hardest of all (hence the GIF).
If you aren’t open to their ideas, get out of the conversation, and give yourself a few years to mature until you can participate in civilized discussion with other opinions and thoughts in the room. There is a difference between remaining true to your beliefs and holding to them blindly like a guy in a barrel going down Niagara Falls. If you aren’t open to hearing others’ opinions, then leave the conversation. You’ll lose points, but you’ll lose even more if you stand around blabbing about how right you are.
I hope you learned something. Civilized compromise is the cornerstone of our culture. Learn how.
“Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee and just as hard to sleep after.” -Anne Morrow Lindbergh
By Elijah Svoboda, Account Executive, Exploration Station…A Children’s Museum