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How to Have Impossible Conversations: A Very Practical Guide Kindle Edition
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In our current political climate, it seems impossible to have a reasonable conversation with anyone who has a different opinion. Whether you're online, in a classroom, an office, a town hall—or just hoping to get through a family dinner with a stubborn relative—dialogue shuts down when perspectives clash. Heated debates often lead to insults and shaming, blocking any possibility of productive discourse. Everyone seems to be on a hair trigger.
In How to Have Impossible Conversations, Peter Boghossian and James Lindsay guide you through the straightforward, practical, conversational techniques necessary for every successful conversation—whether the issue is climate change, religious faith, gender identity, race, poverty, immigration, or gun control. Boghossian and Lindsay teach the subtle art of instilling doubts and opening minds. They cover everything from learning the fundamentals for good conversations to achieving expert-level techniques to deal with hardliners and extremists. This book is the manual everyone needs to foster a climate of civility, connection, and empathy.
"This is a self-help book on how to argue effectively, conciliate, and gently persuade. The authors admit to getting it wrong in their own past conversations. One by one, I recognize the same mistakes in me. The world would be a better place if everyone read this book." —Richard Dawkins, author of Science in the Soul and Outgrowing God
About the Author
James Lindsay holds degrees in physics and mathematics, with a doctorate in the latter. He has authored two previous books: Everybody is Wrong about God and Dot, Dot, Dot: Infinity Plus God Equals Folly. He lives in Knoxville, Tennessee. --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B07NL74KR2
- Publisher : Da Capo Lifelong Books (September 17, 2019)
- Publication date : September 17, 2019
- Language : English
- File size : 952 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Sticky notes : On Kindle Scribe
- Print length : 200 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: #203,649 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the authors
Reviewed in the United States on June 13, 2022
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The first third of this book is basically how to have a relationship. Reading these chapters was a bit embarrassing for me. I could see that our collective problem in the United States is that we don't know how to have a relationship. It's like we're all children! And no, children can't rule countries (effectively). Most chapters end with an encouragement for you to practice the principles in that chapter before you move to the next chapter. Why? First, the principles are hard. It takes work and practice. But second, these principles build on each other. I've been trying them on my sweet father. So far, so good! And that's saying a lot!
The content is kept to a minimum. It is concise. The authors, while highly educated, use very accessible language. They use examples, which is key! They include many actual conversations which illuminates the ideas. The content is well organized, taking you from introductory skills (which are actually the most important!) to the more advanced.
The last two thirds of the book are about how to intervene in someone else's thinking. This may sound horrible or invasive, but if you read the first few chapters first, you'll have compassion, humility, kindness, gentleness, and other unnatural (but wonderful) things drilled into you before this point! (And they make sure to say in the later chapters that all of this depends on you actually understanding/incorporating the first few chapters.) Again, I was embarrassed reading these things! I should know to behave like this, but my default setting in a contentious conversation is combat and protecting my ego. Which is the worst possible mindset I can occupy! This book will revolutionize your thinking!
The authors make it very clear that, as much as you may want to change someone else's thinking, you must be open to your thinking changing. They model it themselves! They record times where their thinking was changed! Seeing this humility was extremely helpful. These guys deserve a medal in human goodness. And I say that as a practicing Christian who is fully aware that both authors are outspoken atheists. They're good guys and this is content the U.S. needs now. Enjoy! Share it with friends! I've bought it for two friends and will likely buy it for more! And I will be referencing this book for years to come. Thank you Peter and James!
It offers a reasonable approach with increasing skill levels. Beginner level is all about keeping civil and establishing good will, using all the active listening, open-ended questions, and other skills you learned in marriage counseling and cognitive therapy. 'You can always be right, and you can stay married....not both. ". You are encouraged to break off conversations before ruining a relationship and "sometimes you just have to quietly let them be wrong."
You are advised to practice, practice, practice, before graduating to higher levels of difficulty. If that is the case, just how many people, outside of activists, can tally up that many difficult discussions in a year?
Intermediate level involves avoiding "you," re-framing, being willing to change your own mind, going to outside knowledge sources. Admit when you don't know. Recast personal attacks into being about issues.
Somewhere along in the book (Jonathan Haidt's) ideas are introduced concerning differing moral emphasis-compassion vs. fairness, etc., especially in political viewpoints.
Advanced skills begin fairly easy-rehash and development of advanced active listening, avoid fact. The difficulties in dealing with morality-based thinking are introduced. Focus on epistemology, model intellectual humility. start introducing facts but by using questions
Things get tougher with instructions to seek disinformation. "Under what conditions would the belief be false?" Things tend toward the stratosphere in dealing with beliefs that are not disconfirmable or disconfirmable but under wildly implausible conditions, dealing with people who have been trained with fundamentalist talking points and 'facts."
At this point I had the feeling that one would have to be some kind of Machiavellian evil genius and sadist to go further. I might invite Mormon Missionaries inside for iced tea on an August afternoon, but I'm too old (wise??, cowardly?, incompetent?) to take them on in conversation about Moroni. I am more interested in understanding other' reasons for thinking, believing, and concluding than I am with changing their minds. That's probably adequate for most of us in these polarized times. Finding common ground is the first step in diplomacy and good-will cultivation.