We live in an age of incivility.
Name calling, blaming, finger-pointing, anger and fear running unchecked … it’s been a miserable few months. Too many of my friends are complaining about the Facebook Friends they’ve Unfriended since the election.
Shall we use that as a measure of our discontent?
Fear no more. LEAP FROG is here. (Need to start at the beginning? Click here for Civil Discourse in the New Age)
Last week we began the FROG part with F (forget the facts). Today, we’re moving to R.
R is for Respect
My first inclination was to use George Lakoff’s use of the word “Frame,” with an R is for Reframe post. I even had it mostly written.
George Lakoff, a cognitive linguist at UC Berkeley, took the verb to frame from photography and art and applied it to conversations (the field of cognitive linguistics, to be more precise). For him, “framing” — and “reframing” — is a method to assure that what we say will be heard. To do this we must understand the other’s point of view. It starts with Listening effectively. Of course it does; what doesn’t!
But Lakoff’s emphasis on “facts” tended to take us away from the direction we were heading after last week’s F = forget the facts. So, I changed the R in FROG to Respect, like in the Aretha Franklin song.
Go on; listen to it. It’s only 2 minutes long.
Respect! You holler. How can I respect this jerk who just spouted the most absurd idea yet! Give me a break!
I know. It’s not easy. But remember back to our first post in this series. The purpose of civil discourse begins with Cicero and his notion of a civil society. So, I’m thinking of respect for the conversation itself. Respect for the ideal of reviving, maintaining, or even creating the civil society.
Show respect for the conversation with these DOs.
- Remember the difference between being civil and being polite. Civility counts; politeness doesn’t.
- Let go of your need to be right. It’s not going to get you ANYWHERE.
- Realize this conversation is not a zero-sum game (there are no winners or losers). You want to come out of it together, both better informed, ready and able to work together toward the common good.
- Seek to identify common values: achievement, status, recognition, power, money, family, health, adventure, risk, change, serenity, security, self-reliance, freedom, liberty, love, faith. Others?
- Speak from an “I” place. And know why this is important.
- Stay positive (refrain from using don’t, won’t, can’t, shouldn’t, never, ...)
- Understand how the opposing point of view impacts or threatens you. Be as specific as possible. This is easier for some groups than others. Straight, white, wealthy men may need to think about this a bit longer.
- Watch your body language, tone of voice, and how you phrase things.
- I want to listen to your POV, but I can’t do it when you are yelling at me.
- I understand your POV, but I see it differently.
- Ask open ended questions:
- What do you think about ___?
- What leads you to that conclusion?
- What would you like to accomplish?
- What is the most important thing to you?
- What do you suggest ___
- Refrain from using “thwarting ploys” and, if the Other uses them, name them immediately.
What are thwarting ploys?
A few examples: stonewalling, lying, threatening, shouting, crying, silence, sarcasm, taking offense, accusations, pointing a finger.
The simplest way to disarm them is by naming them. *It feels like you are changing the subject. *Are you threatening me? *I simply don’t believe you. I’d like to check out the veracity of your last statement before we continue. Shall we meet again in a week? *I really dislike sarcasm; it doesn’t serve our purpose here and it feels insincere. Could you rephrase? *I see this has you very upset. I don’t want to lose site of what we were talking about though. Shall we just wait a few minutes or would you like to reschedule?
How about you? What’s your biggest challenge in finding and showing RESPECT in this age of incivility? Or, venture another guess at the O and the G? Who knows, you may convince me to make another last minute change.
Click here for LEAP FROG, Part 8, the O
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