5 tips to improving discourse

It’s been a rough… couple of weeks? years? decades? Since the 2016 Elections I think a lot of people would say things have gotten worse.

At least when it comes to discourse.

In fact, I think a lot of people are feeling we no longer have discourse – just a lot of shouting and demanding.

Not much listening.

Not much progress.

Not much building.

Not much understanding nor empathy.

But we do have a lot of hate, anger, resentment, frustration, misinformation passed off as truth, etc..

I was reading an article about a recent confrontation: someone was getting in someone’s face, getting ugly, and the ones being confronted handled it with aplomb. The article referenced “The 5 Universal Truths of Verbal Judo”:

  • ALL cultures want to be treated with Dignity and Respect.
  • ALL people would rather be asked than told what to do.
  • ALL people want to know why they are asked or told to do something.
  • ALL people would rather have options than threats.
  • ALL people want a second chance to make matters right.

If you’ll forgive my clickbait title, for sure these are fantastic ways to improve discourse. It doesn’t matter the venue or the context – they are universal.

Part of me looks at those 5 truths and sees how the past some years have escallated in the lack of people adhering to these truths:

  • Only certain cultures or groups are being treated with dignity and respect; others are being attacked, demeaned, marginalized.
  • Certain people/groups are demanding and telling other people/groups how they must act, behave, what they can and cannot say.
  • If any explanation is given, if that explanation is not understood or is questioned, the conversation is shut down and the questioner written off.
  • There are no options, or any options given are false choices. And if someone chooses the “unapproved” option, threats are followed-through.
  • What second chance? In the world of doxxing and Internet mob justice, the moment you “step out of line” you are to be destroyed.

What’s worse is the above 5 failings are also universal. It’s happening on all “sides” by all “sides”.

You can’t change someone else’s behavior. Or can you?

Truly you can only change your behavior, and perhaps increasing our effort to adopt and manifest those 5 Universal Truths of Verbal Judo will be a good change you can make in yourself. And who knows. When you manifest them in your conversations with others, there’s a chance you might actually change their behavior too.

And things might actually get better.