Having communication problems? Finding it difficult to broach big subjects with the other side of the debate?
Over lunch and some emails, a group of us* came together to work out what guidelines we might establish for good conversations to help bridge the political divides.
Feel free to email us suggestions - firstname.lastname@example.org
The Rules of Parley
Remember that the people you speak to are not your opponents. Address them calmly and in a civil manner.
Avoid inflammatory or aggressive language.
Seek to explain your position, not to persuade others to adopt it. If they agree with you, that is a bonus.
Assume that your opponent is speaking in good faith, and that they are sincerely expressing their true opinions (unless there are very strong reasons to believe otherwise).
Do not caricature your opponent’s position. Ask them to correct you if you have misunderstood their point of view.
Find the specific points of disagreement, and try to determine why you understand the world differently. Be prepared to agree to disagree if you cannot do so. Concede graciously if you realise that you had got something wrong.
If you start to feel that you’re having a bad tempered argument with someone, take a deep breath, and a break.
Be careful with your use of hypotheticals: particularly in relation to Hitler, genocides and dictatorship.
Remember that disagreement is as important as consensus. Cherish it. Understanding where we differ from other people can help us to refine our own understanding and beliefs.
This code is more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules. There will be occasions where it is appropriate to ignore one or more of them. But do so sparingly!
*With all thanks to::
Dr. Daniel Allington, King’s College London
Jamie Bartlett, Author & Journalist
William Galinsky, Artist & Curator
David Toube, Quilliam Foundation