How to Have Difficult Conversations
November 11, 2016 12:55 PM   Subscribe

What do we already know about how to talk with people who are closed-minded to own own (admittedly pretty close-minded) points of view?

I'm sure this is already on Ask MeFi, but I sure can't find it.

I'm asking b/c of the election, b/c white supremacy, b/c I have plenty of access to family and long-term acquaintances that completely disagree w/me and I want to listen, learn, and do what I can to move us both along to a more mutual understanding.

Maybe it's not possible, but what do we know about trying?
posted by 10ch to Human Relations (7 answers total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
you might look here.
posted by andrewcooke at 1:03 PM on November 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

There's a great article from the Southern Poverty Law Centre about ways to respond to bigotry out in the wild. It's not about the whole conversation, but there are some really good scripts in there that could be conversation openers.
posted by terretu at 1:22 PM on November 11, 2016 [4 favorites]

This twitter thread, especially the various links (mostly under "See More"). "It Turns Out a Brief Conversation Really Can Change Minds on LGBT Issues" is a good one (and yes, it addresses the earlier study--the one that turned out to have falsified data--that we've discussed on MeFi).
posted by wintersweet at 1:46 PM on November 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

I happened to read this the other day, and it seemed OK: "How to change someone’s mind, according to science" (WaPo). The Wikipedia page for Getting Past No, a by-product of the Harvard Program on Negotiation, also has tips that I think are generically useful for oppositional dialogue. How to Win Friends and Influence People remains a classic, full of fun anecdotes about why criticism usually bounces off of people, so its Wikipedia entry doesn't really do it justice, though it does show how much of the book is devoted to things like listening sincerely. And the Harvard Business Review article "Using Stories to Persuade" links to several longer pieces that really say how to do that too.
posted by Wobbuffet at 7:31 PM on November 11, 2016

Nonviolent Communication was recommended to me on MeFi, and now I'm paying it forward, with the invaluable advice to skip all the poems.
posted by BrashTech at 8:08 PM on November 11, 2016 [3 favorites]

It turns out a brief conversation really can change minds on LGBT issues

wintersweet, isn't that the study that got de-bunked, massively, due to fraud?
posted by Neekee at 8:07 AM on November 12, 2016

@Neekee, if you take a look at wintersweet's post, they indicate that the article does address the falsified study.

For anyone that doesn't want to click the link or read the article, here's the relevant point (a finding on a similar study of transgender issues). The study was published in Science magazine.

"Interestingly, it didn’t matter whether the canvasser was transgender or cis-. This had been the big, headline-grabbing takeaway of the fake LaCour finding: that there was something so profound about talking to a member of the outgroup in question — gay people, in that study — that it had an effect that couldn’t, apparently, be replicated by assigning straight canvassers to talk to voters. In reality — when it comes to transgender issues, at least — that’s not the case."
posted by elmay at 12:58 PM on November 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

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