Five Basic Skills
- Listen to understand rather than to prepare your rebuttal. If you couldn’t accurately summarize what the other person just said, you haven’t listened.
- Be curious (“Why you see it this way?”) rather than argumentative (“How could you possibly see it this way?”)
- Make sure you understand the other’s view before you disagree with it. (“Let me see if I understand what you are saying….”)
- Use I-statements (“This is how I see it”) more often than truth-statements (“This is how it is.”) If you are citing facts, give your source rather than just saying it’s true.
- Avoid characterizing the other side’s position in your own terms rather than theirs. (“Your side sees immigration as a threat to the country.” “Your side is for open borders.”)
Five Advanced Skills
- Start with an underlying value or perspective you may agree on before saying what you disagree with. (“Sounds like we both want an immigration system that is fair to immigrants and good for the country.”)
- Offer something critical of your own side (“My party’s leaders have let money interests influence them too much.”)
- Offer something positive about the other side (“Your party has picked up on the concerns of people that my party has ignored.”)
- When disagreeing, keep acknowledging the other’s view (“I hear your concern about this policy backfiring. My own view is….”
- If the other person escalates, don’t go there (“I get your point and I know we differ a lot on this. Shall we let it go or keep talking?)