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I’m from the USA, and, like many, am surprised over the recent election results. These results have revealed an incredible, seemingly unsurmountable divide between Americans. We got a taste of this divide in the UK with the equally shocking Brexit choice. While I can’t speak for people in the UK, I can state that people in the good old US of A have forgotten how to disagree with each other respectfully. There seems to be an insurmountable divide: Many Republicans truly believe the Democrats point the way to hell, and vice versa. There is name calling. Violence. We’re acting like fearful animals under attack.
I’ve lost a friend in this election—a woman I still believe to be thoughtful, intelligent and incisive. Initially, I tried to hold a dialogue with her: “Show me evidence that Trump’s policies are viable.” It didn’t work, and we ended up digitally yelling at each other. It doesn’t help when all of us choose the media we think has “the facts,” and state confidently that YOUR source of information is biased and unreliable.
Is there a way out of this mess? I don’t know. Below, I’ve taken some tips by consultant Judy Ringer (http://www.judyringer.com/resources/articles/being-heard-6-strategies-for-getting-your-point-across.php) that seem to make sense.
- Stop pushing your point of view. Try and understand your conflict partner’s point of view.
- “Don’t give in, give way,” she says. Let your conflict partner know you are willing to hear them out and to seriously consider their point of view. Show the other person empathy.
- Offer relevant information. Don’t say things such as “Your reasoning just doesn’t make sense.” That will get the other person’s hackles up right away. Start by acknowledging their argument, summarise it, and look for the one thing you can agree upon. Try and step into that person’s shoes. Don’t try to shove your point of view up that person’s . . . nose. Try and offer information that the other person might find actually useful.
- Once you think your conversation partner might be willing to listen to you without blowing a fuse (and vice versa), start the conversation NOT INSISTING ON WINNING, but instead TRYING TO SOLVE THE PROBLEM. Maybe that person won’t be persuaded to come around to your point of view tomorrow. But maybe, out of the conversation, will come increased respect on both sides. One can only HOPE.
So. How do you communicate YOUR point of view, once you’ve heard the other person’s perspective?
- a. Be aware that that person’s reality could be much, much different from yours. Research has shown that individuals are increasingly living in areas next to people who feel the way they do; watch the same programs that they do; and have absolutely nothing in common with people who think differently.
b. Think of the interchange as one of mutual education, not one of blame or recrimination, and try to communicate this in a hopeful way to your conversation partner.
c. Stay interested in the conversation. Try and understand the reasons for disagreement.
d. Try, try to extend positive energy. I don’t know if I’d be capable of this; but it IS worth striving for!
e. There are no guarantees. You two may end up staring at a brick wall that cannot be broken down. At least, try to end the conversation on a note of mutual respect.
What times we live in. More than ever, mutual understanding is needed to keep us sane!
I’m located in the Melbourne region. For a free session on communications and public speaking, feel free to email me for an appointment: firstname.lastname@example.org.
My website: www.eloquentenglish.com
Have a hero and a villain
In my website (http://eloquentenglish.com/2016/05/02/the-power-of-the-story/), I talk about what makes a good story. It’s all about having a hero we’re interested in, the challenges (villains) that this person must conquer and his/her transformation at the end. The best stories contain some type of universal message that we can all understand and believe in.
Think of your organisation as the hero, fighting a villain. The villain could be world hunger. The abuse of women. Factors that keep people unemployed. Your organisation wants to change that. Does your website and other material effectively show your ongoing battle with the forces of darkness? OK, that’s a little exaggerated—but you want to paint your organisation colours of vivid transformation and luminous optimism. People react strongly to that. They don’t react to a series of statistics and non-passionate language.
Make people care through personal stories
Which is more powerful to the average reader:
660,000 women are forced into marriage every year
When she was 12, Sasha was sold in marriage to to a 55-year-old man.
The second one will get your attention quicker. Certainly, statistics are important, but make sure that your statistics merely support the powerful story you want to tell.
Business presenter guru Nancy Duarte shows how the most powerful business presentations have the same structure as the world’s most earth-changing speeches. Both these talks, Duarte states, describe a world as it is. The presenter then highlights a problem in that world (abuse of women) and how his solution will help eradicate that problem. According to Duarte, the best speeches continually contrast the “old” world versus the “new”, proposed world that is being presented in the speech.
Here is a website that does a brilliant girl of combing facts with the personal. The language is simple and powerful.
On the website’s front page you read:
“MORE THAN 60 MILLION GIRLS AROUND THE WORLD ARE NOT IN SCHOOL.
“And we’re on a mission to educate 1 million of them.
And we want YOU to join us.
“It’s not okay with us that an 11 year old girl can be sold to a 55 year old man in the name of marriage. It’s not okay that a 12 year old girl is forced to sell herself in a brothel to earn money to survive. Stories like this that we hear each week are not inevitable. We CAN do something about it.
“Education changes everything.”
You get a statistic, certainly. But that statistic is stated vividly: 60 million girls are not in school. In doesn’t say “60 million girls are uneducated.” That’s boring. Onegirl make this statistic an actual activity–or the lack of an activity that can cause great harm.
They use the “it’s not OK” refrain beautifully to make it clear who the villain is: factors that allow girls to be abused.
Also, the organisation actually makes YOU—the potential donor—the hero. How smart is that? The website makes you believe that, with your donation, YOU can create a new, better world in which young women have a chance to contribute to this world.
So when you’re thinking about your organisation’s website, think passion. Heroism. changing the world. And make an unforgettable story about it.