As we’re thrown head-long into the political amphitheater of Trump vs. Clinton, the “Deactivate My Account” button on Facebook begins to look more and more endearing. The images are of gape-faced, gesticulating politicians, the headlines accusing one party or another of egregious missteps. And all this is atop the usual spew of the arena of public opinion on animal cruelty, parenting tactics, and recipe video tutorials.
We’re living in the age of digital pitchforks and torches. Everyone is a judge. Everyone is an expert. We’ve been given a digital soapbox and it is now our duty to lay down the law. We’re surrounding ourselves with our mental comrades and shunning those who think differently.
Here’s the problem: monologues have replaced actual dialogue. What happened to the lost art of respectful conversation?
Here’s 5 tips on how to have better conversations, keep your friends, and even make more in the process:
- Listen up. Stephen R. Covey advised: don’t listen to respond, listen to understand. You may learn something (even if it’s just about the way the other person thinks). If you feign a listening ear, simply biding the time until you can drop a knowledge bomb, you won’t have a lot of conversations. Or friends.
- Disagreement doesn’t mean disrespect. The result of a good conversation isn’t agreement—it’s that ideas were exchanged and sentiments heard. Respectful disagreement is one of the beautiful things for which this country’s freedom allows.
- Stop being offended. We may be well “within our rights” to be riled up by the hurtful, insensitive words of others. But often, offense can suffocate a good conversation. Like a misfiring airbag, it can interpret bumps as accidents and bring conversations to a screeching halt.
- Emotions don’t make good conversationalists. As the leader of a nation, Solomon knew it was important to keep the peace. He advised: “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare” (Proverbs 15:1). Emotions can hinder our ability to reason and prioritize. Conversing while you’re under their influence can often cause more harm than good.
- Know the right platform for your conversation. Never before have there been so many options for getting in touch with someone. Selecting the right mode of communication for the situation is nearly as important as the message itself. What if doctors delivered bad prognoses via text message?
This list isn’t comprehensive, but merely a starting point based on our personal experiences. After all, we’re used to people disagreeing with us.
Any insights or suggestions of your own? We’d love to hear them in the comments below!