(Short version with hand-puppets :) )
(Longer, more detailed version, audio only)
My latest influence is Marshall Rosenberg’s non-violent communication. He places an emphasis on seeking to meet people’s needs, as a primary goal.
I’ve been playing around with the techniques, I find them valuable. These are my insights-of-the-moment.
Many people who debate subjects approach their interlocutor as a fencing opponent, with the goal of essentially beating people into submission. I find it more practical to spend 80% of my time, accepting and agreeing to less relevant items, or looking for things that I can agree with rather than confronting people. Confrontation triggers fight-or-flight. I find that state a hindrance to my goal of a sincere, honest and productive conversation.
Regardless of how a conversation started, I set the tone to prove to the person that I respect their dignity, I go first and lead by example. People respond well to being treated with dignity. When people can expect consistent good treatment from you, they tend to soften up, and relax enough to get into a flow.
I strive to create a sense of security and safety for my interlocutor. If they know that I’m not going to belittle them by smashing my ideas, thoughts or beliefs into them, they have the space to breath, think, and know that they are safe to incrementally modify their position.
When conversing with people, I spend as much time checking in with their emotional state as I do their logic. Nothing will block logical thinking more quickly and steadfastly than an unacknowledged and unaddressed fear. In order to help someone to consider and possibly accept an idea, we must first make sure that they are emotionally comfortable enough to do so.
When someone has been encouraged to slowly move forward, and they know it’s safe, they are more likely to continue moving in that direction on their own, rather than balking out of fear, shame or discomfort. If we connect our ideas with stress, the person will not want to consider the ideas, because they also invoke the original stress.
This, so far, seems to work well for me with family, business relationships, and new people.