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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Third Rail Conversations

I've been trying to remember the last satisfying or useful conversation I had about politics.

Now since I am the only constant in all the conversations I have, it's logical to begin by reflecting on what I bring to the table i.e. what must I change to make these conversations work better? One thing I know would help is asking better questions of others. Although I'm pretty skilled doing this when discussing other topics, when someone agrees with me in a political conversation, I ask too few questions - I go into ditto mode. Psychologists call this "confirmation bias" - seeking out only the information that matches our beliefs.

When someone disagrees, even my non-leading questions can sometimes be tainted by body language or a vocal timbre that is unwelcoming. So even if the question is a pure one, my posture is saying "I don't really care about your answer". Another response I have when facing disagreement is shutting down - also not conducive to satisfying conversations.

How much of this sounds familiar to you? What help can you offer?                         

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