I have a lot of “favourite links” saved and I have been weeding out some from my files. I came across a saved article from 2017 that I thought was relevant to the issues addressed in my/David’s recent post, What David Said.

I Respectfully Disagree: How to Have a Proper Argument

This article suggests possible paths to mutual respect during disagreement or discussing opposing viewpoints. I thought “The 10 Golden Rules of Argument” were good for in-person and to some degree, online dialogue:

  1. Be prepared – Make sure you know the essential points you want to make. Research the facts you need to convince your opponent.
  2. When to argue, when to walk away – Think carefully before you start to argue: is this the time; is this the place?
  3. What you say and how you say it – Spend time thinking about how to present your argument. Body language, choice of words and manner of speaking all affect how your argument will come across.
  4. Listen and listen again – Listen carefully to what the other person is saying. Watch their body language, listen for the meaning behind their words.
  5. Excel at responding to arguments – Think carefully about what arguments the other person will listen to. What are their preconceptions? Which kinds of arguments do they find convincing.
  6. Watch out for crafty tricks – Arguments are not always as good as they first appear. Be wary of your opponent’s use of statistics. Keep alert for distraction techniques such as personal attacks and red herrings. Look out for concealed questions and false choices.
  7. Develop the skills of arguing in public – Keep it simple and clear. Be brief and don’t rush.
  8. Be able to argue in writing – Always choose clarity over pomposity. Be short, sharp, and to the point, using language that is easily understood.
  9. Be great at resolving deadlock – Be creative in finding ways out of an argument that’s going nowhere. Is it time to look at the issue from another angle? Are there ways of putting pressure on so that the other person has to agree with you? Is a compromise possible?
  10. Maintain relationships – This is absolutely key. What do you want from this argument? Humiliating, embarrassing or aggravating your opponent might make you feel good at the time, but you might have many lonely days to rue your mistake. Find a result that works for both of you. You need to move forward. Then you will be able to argue another day.

I know it isn’t as easy as some articles and advice can make it seem. Respectful dialogue requires effort and practice. I think it is something we can develop over a lifetime and experiences often teach us — negative and positive ones. Clarity in communication has become even more important with so much dialogue in online spaces now.

When I starting using Twitter about 10 years ago, conversation and debates about issues were frequent in my network. I don’t participate as actively anymore as compared to the past. I seldom post opinions now and I suspect that I am not alone in that. It can be overwhelming and easy to back away from discussions on social media. I often wonder if valuable insights and viewpoints get shut down or not heard at all in the often quick to dismiss or shame on social media? But if we tend to be mostly in ideological filter bubbles on social media platforms, how much does that matter?

I continue to use Twitter as a means of staying informed (Am I just a “lurker” now?). I try to be aware of various perspectives on an issue or event. I find that accessing information on current events through an associated hashtag feed can help reveal opposing viewpoints and the nuances to issues. Just like trying to understand disputes in person, there is often a larger context to many situations that “trend” on Twitter that may need time to consider before a response.

Reading replies to tweets or articles shared is another way to be exposed to different viewpoints or takes on a situation. Sure, that can be painful in ways, but too often I see an opinion responded to with name-calling or calling out, rather than, “Tell me more”, or “Where are you coming from with that?”. Or just leaving it…

Who else is looking forward to a few coffee shop conversations when the pandemic is behind us? 🙂