Having a Respectful Conversation with Opposing Viewpoints

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Twilightprincess
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28 Apr 2019, 9:38 am

I find this topic really interesting. I’ve always strived to avoid talking about religion or politics with people, but it seems to be a social rule that almost no one follows. The vast majority of people in my area are conservative and assume that I must be, too, so when they bring up a topic, they assume that they know exactly how I feel about it. I’m sure this plays out similarly for conservative people living in areas that are predominantly liberal.

Anyway, this situation has given me lots of practice when it comes to practicing tact and avoiding confrontation. It’s, unfortunately, also demonstrated that if I state the way I actually think in an honest but non-confrontational way the other person is probably going to get upset and reactionary, so I usually keep my opinions to myself, listen, and try to understand where they are coming from.

It’s just shocking to me that people are so bad at being able to disagree in a respectful way. Being confrontational only makes someone get defensive and even less likely than they already were to listen and identify with you.

I am a very strong feminist, but I was recently banned from a feminist forum for being too moderate. I wasn’t even given any warning, an opportunity to defend my position, or the ability to clear up any misunderstandings that may have arisen. It’s really hard for a society to progress if we can’t even talk to each other.

When I mildly and respectfully voiced a concern about a recent religious publication to my father (it is about child sexual abuse and contains a lot of ignorant and problematic passages), he just got really, really angry and wouldn’t talk to me about it any further.

I find people fascinating, and I really enjoy figuring out why they think or believe the things they do. I think approaching people and our differences from a place of curiosity and compassion is a much more effective way to attain understanding (if not a potential shift in thinking) than by refusing to listen or by responding in a confrontational way.

Do you think we’re getting worse at being able to courteously disagree with each other?

Have any of you had respectful discussions or debates with people who have differing political views?

I’ve had the most success with educated people, but I’m still better at learning how and why others think the way they do than I am at voicing my own beliefs and values.



Arevelion
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28 Apr 2019, 9:53 am

Twilightprincess wrote:
....Have any of you had respectful discussions or debates with people who have differing political views?...


A few, but not many. I do not engage in ad hominem arguments, but that doesn't mean I feel a need to spare anyone's feelings, nor do I expect anyone to spare mine. Indeed I started a debate thread effectively inviting people to flame me.

Oddly enough no one accepted the invitation.



Twilightprincess
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28 Apr 2019, 10:28 am

Arevelion wrote:
Twilightprincess wrote:
....Have any of you had respectful discussions or debates with people who have differing political views?...


A few, but not many. I do not engage in ad hominem arguments, but that doesn't mean I feel a need to spare anyone's feelings, nor do I expect anyone to spare mine. Indeed I started a debate thread effectively inviting people to flame me.

Oddly enough no one accepted the invitation.


I think that it’s easy for things to get out of hand and confrontational, though, if we don’t approach a discussion from a place of respect. Then logic gets thrown out the window and everyone is just wasting his or her time. When people feel attacked, they usually put up a wall and don’t listen any further.

I’m not really talking about trying to convert someone to my way of thinking but, instead, just trying to develop some understanding, knowledge, and growth for everyone participating in such a conversation.



Tim_Tex
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28 Apr 2019, 10:30 am

We need to do better at this, but it’s as if everybody wants to be in an echo chamber these days.

I think the whole “if you voted for _____, unfriend me now” thing is childish at best, unproductive at worst.


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LoveNotHate
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28 Apr 2019, 10:33 am

Maybe they're just misinterpreting your autistic prose.

You're simply saying X, and they're misinterpreting it as X, Y, Z and a little bit of A, B, C …


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Twilightprincess
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28 Apr 2019, 10:42 am

Tim_Tex wrote:
We need to do better at this, but it’s as if everybody wants to be in an echo chamber these days.

I think the whole “if you voted for _____, unfriend me now” thing is childish at best, unproductive at worst.


That’s so true!

I think it’s beneficial to have friends with all sorts of different values as long as we have mutual respect and know when to drop a topic and not get pushy with our own views and agenda.

Demonizing groups of people will get us nowhere.



Twilightprincess
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28 Apr 2019, 10:49 am

LoveNotHate wrote:
Maybe they're just misinterpreting your autistic prose.

You're simply saying X, and they're misinterpreting it as X, Y, Z and a little bit of A, B, C …


That’s certainly possible. It is hard for me sometimes to say enough but not too much.

I also live in an area where religion and politics intermingle in a very ugly way, so there’s lots of emotion and religious fervor in realms that should be more logic-based. I’m not saying that anyone’s position is wrong (although I don’t like specific religions pushing their members to think and vote in a very specific way), but it makes having a respectful dialogue more challenging.

Maybe we’re also conditioned at this point to assume that when someone says X he or she is ready to get in the mud and duke it out. (The maturity level during such debates is probably pretty comparable to a mud fight, so I think my comparison is perfectly apt.)



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28 Apr 2019, 12:13 pm

I've had respectful discussions with opposing viewpoints, usually with people I know rather well. Respectful conversations are nice, but no one changes their mind ever.


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jimmy m
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28 Apr 2019, 12:23 pm

Twilightprincess wrote:
Do you think we’re getting worse at being able to courteously disagree with each other


Absolutely true.


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Twilightprincess
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28 Apr 2019, 1:15 pm

Antrax wrote:
I've had respectful discussions with opposing viewpoints, usually with people I know rather well. Respectful conversations are nice, but no one changes their mind ever.


Yeah. I doubt that people change their minds that often, but I think it’s positive when people can at least understand the other side of the debate and not get all bent out of shape when someone disagrees with them.



Antrax
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28 Apr 2019, 1:27 pm

Twilightprincess wrote:
Antrax wrote:
I've had respectful discussions with opposing viewpoints, usually with people I know rather well. Respectful conversations are nice, but no one changes their mind ever.


Yeah. I doubt that people change their minds that often, but I think it’s positive when people can at least understand the other side of the debate and not get all bent out of shape when someone disagrees with them.


Yeah, I agree and I feel like demonization and extremism are getting a little out of control nowadays.


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28 Apr 2019, 3:43 pm

Twilightprincess wrote:
Antrax wrote:
I've had respectful discussions with opposing viewpoints, usually with people I know rather well. Respectful conversations are nice, but no one changes their mind ever.


Yeah. I doubt that people change their minds that often, but I think it’s positive when people can at least understand the other side of the debate and not get all bent out of shape when someone disagrees with them.


Understanding is nice, but there are times when changing people's minds can be a matter of life and death. Because me and other liberal "traitors" failed to dissuade people from supporting the Iraqi invasion thousands of lives were lost. I want to be be able to change people's minds before something like that happens again!



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28 Apr 2019, 4:06 pm

I don't think it's possible at all to talk with some people about your own views. And with some issues, deep down there can't really be a middle ground so in the end you only support one side or the other. There are differences between facts and opinions and unfortunately some people want to tamper with that. And the older people get (like OP's dad), the longer they had experience with it and more likely they are to not change. I think because they concluded it just "works" for them.



ollychan
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30 Apr 2019, 11:05 pm

that's not what american culture is nowadays.



Pepe
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01 May 2019, 3:55 am

Twilightprincess wrote:

Have any of you had respectful discussions or debates with people who have differing political views?


Well, I identify as a rationalist and prioritise reason and objectivity over subjective emotional venting...
I lot of people are governed by their emotional needs and look for an excuse to tear apart others with different points of view...
If I meet someone with a bad attitude, I predominantly extricate myself from the situation and tag them as a toxic person and keep them at arm's length in future...
It is totally dependent on the *attitude* of the other person whether or not I continue a discussion or cut my losses...

Think of it like this: The schoolyard bully wants an emotional response out the people he/she is trying to intimidate/effect...
If one responds irrationally they have won...
Don't let them win...

And the same applies to internet trolls...
I.E. : Don't feed the trolls... :wink:

N.B. : As a default: If I find myself in a civil conversation where our respective POV is irreconcilable, I suggest we simply agree to disagree and leave it at that...<shrug>
No need to pull hair and scratch eyes... :mrgreen:


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ollychan
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01 May 2019, 1:22 pm

ollychan wrote:
that's not what american culture is nowadays.



Even int he eighties it was mostly lighthearted.






Comparing to the general tone of todays discourse.






Such decadence started in the 90s.