Sunday, 4 February 2007

How to Talk to a Closed-Minded Person: Chapter 1

See also "How to Talk to a Closed-Minded Person: Introduction".

Chapter 1: Keep in mind...
Just think to yourself ‘I’m a human, not a stereotype. I am not liberal, nor am I conservative, I am a collection of views that do not have to be diluted into one simple word of relative perception’.

Stick with it
  • If the time is right, state your opinions and stand by them! However, keep in mind this advice is not for the weak of heart or those easily swayed — even by faulty logic.
  • You have a fine chance of being trashed for holding beliefs not identical to the closed-minded person you are conversing with.
  • There is a large possibility you will go to hell, or at least the closed-minded may try to convince you so.

    Be nice — to a degree. Even if the narrow-minded is being rude, your best response is not to mirror their attitude. If anything your rudeness would end the debate prematurely, thus lowering the intelligence of the discussion and any further discussion with a narrow-minded person. Vengeance breeds vengeance.

    Britannica or Limbaugh?
    Cite good sources, but don’t just be like a walking, talking encyclopedia. You need to find a good balance between fact and opinion, not passing off one as the other.

    Be passionate, not dull, in expressing your thoughts. However do not go over the edge with your enthusiasm; you aren’t a cheerleader for your causes and viewpoints, you are a communications director. You want to be the domineering one in the debate, but not the only one who says anything — and vice versa.

    A causal debate is like fencing, but without the rules, except those ‘proper’ rules and societal guidelines. One could also compare it to a drive-by shooting, but instead of bullets coming out of the gun, words of knowledge are. (I need to work on my metaphors.)

    There is a difference between not letting someone push their views on you and not listening, accepting, and/or understanding — or trying to understand — the views differing from your own. Many people forget that by not respecting the right of people to form and hold opinions, some are infringing on the open-minded principles they themselves hold. For example, I respect the right of Holocaust deniers to hold their beliefs that the Holocaust did not exist (hot topic nowadays, I know). I do not agree with their views, in fact I find them faulty and disgusting, but it is one’s right to hold one’s own views; freedom of expression. Not attempting at all to respect another’s views, or even blatant facts, is a trait of the closed-minded.

    From what we’ve talked about so far…
    In stating, or defending, your perspective:
  • Don’t be rude;
  • be acceptable while still retaining your arguments;
  • too much aggressiveness will not get you anywhere;
  • don’t label or stereotype unless you want the same to be done to you and your beliefs;
  • clarity will make your argument easier for others to understand and you to defend in the long run;
  • charisma and passion show you believe in what you are saying;
  • do not just be a talking points booklet;
  • remember stereotyping and polarization can be a double-edged sword;
  • admit when you are wrong, but don’t disable your argument by doing so;
  • cite facts and credible research, be knowledgeable without coming off as a (total) snob;
  • utilize your knowledge and areas of specialization;
  • refer to relevant facts and history, not just the current day stuff, when laying out your argument;
  • (at the risk of sounding cliché) be yourself;
  • as mentioned, uniqueness can help in deferring the labels placed on your beliefs and will help you with how you identify you and your views.

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