Young Man Thinking
Clearly, people in general have different ways of looking at things. 

Recently I heard a TED-X talk about political liberals and conservatives and how they talk past one another without hearing what is being said to them. The premise of the talk was that we have to use certain language to make ourselves understood, or our words will fall on deaf ears.

According to this speaker, when a conservative is speaking with a liberal, he must use words associated with

equality,
fairness,
care,
protection.

When a liberal speaks with a conservative, he must use words associated with

loyalty,
patriotism,
respect for authority,
purity,
sanctity.

Actually being able to achieve this in a conversation probably won’t be easy and might take some practice in finding the right words. The speaker in the TED-X talk didn’t elaborate much, maybe because of time restrictions, so we are on our own to work out the language that we use in trying to speak to our counterpart and actually be heard. In return, are we listening so as to understand this person’s worldview and its merits? In looking at these two different approaches, it seems to me that one is more emotion-oriented than the other, but the degree to which this creates tension may depend on the personality of the speaker and/or the listener. Be careful here….

If you give this a try, let me know what happened. Did the two of you actually connect in any meaningful way (arguing and fisticuffs excluded)? Are you still speaking to one another? On a more positive note: might you continue the dialogue again sometime?

2 thoughts on “How to Talk to a Liberal

  1. Great post, my wife and I have both lost friends because of this election cycle. I don’t think it matters what words you use, I think it matters more that you look for a conversation with a human being, and not look at it like I am talking to a liberal/conservative person. When people start looking for conversations instead of opportunities to show off their moral superiority, we will see the world become a better place. Great post though, I like the food for thought.
    new fan!!

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    1. I agree that it’s important to remember that we are speaking with another human being rather than speaking to that person thinking of him/her as a “label.” When that person comes across as utterly entrenched in their opinions, however, then it might be a good idea to think about the words we use in trying to talk with that person. I live in a retirement home in fairly close proximity with several hundred people with strong opinions developed throughout their lifetimes. For the most part, everyone tries to get along and be forgiving, but I just learned that a couple of people in my building have said they are no longer speaking to my partner and me, because we expressed ourselves openly about this election. I’m going to have to try to follow my own advice going forward…! Thanks so much for writing.

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