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The art of persuasion

(85 Posts)
Elegran Wed 05-Apr-17 09:10:41

The political scene online as well as off it has become the an arena for gladiatorial fights to the death, a snakepit of bile and venom and death threats directed at those with different views (also on GN, though so far no death threats). Isn't it time to try a new approach?

I realise this is a revolutionary suggestion but desperate situations demand desperate measures. Couldn't everyone make an effort to listen as well as shout? To see WHY people believe what they do? To say to them "I see what you mean. You have a point there. Could that be solved by . . ." instead of being accusatory and adversarial, instead of haranguing as though faced with delinquent adolescents?

Watch this.

MawBroon Wed 05-Apr-17 09:18:45

I have seen this too and she makes excellent sense.

Teetime Wed 05-Apr-17 09:21:58

You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
The Chair of the charity I a trustee of is taking a very heavy handed approach and several of us are thinking of leaving.

Elegran Wed 05-Apr-17 09:27:28

I was about to quote that saying on another thread, Teetime, but I decided against it as I seem to have said it several times. It would probably not have made any impression on those who need to remember it, though.

Jayanna9040 Wed 05-Apr-17 09:32:25

Was at a meeting once where somebody quoted that and the Chair said "Yes and you catch even more with s***."
Not quite sure what he was getting at but I think he regarded the quotee as an a roll over and give in kind of person!

sunseeker Wed 05-Apr-17 09:47:15

I am all in favour of robust discussion but too often it seems to sink to name calling and insults. I was on holiday recently and met someone whose views on just about everything were completely opposite to mine. We had many interesting discussions, which never turned nasty, and often had to agree to disagree. At the end of the holiday we shook hands and he thanked me for all the interesting discussions we had as I did him. It is possible to discuss things, even those someone is passionate about, without resorting to unpleasantness.

Elegran Wed 05-Apr-17 09:53:21

I see his point, Jayanna, but the trouble with using shit is that the smell hangs around for ages after the argument has been won or lost. Meanwhile those who were arguing have to live with one another and the bad smell. The memory interferes with other discussions and prevents what might have been pleasant talks on other subjects.

MaizieD Wed 05-Apr-17 10:47:39

I'd find it incredibly difficult to be conciliating to someone who is talking what I know to be absolute nonsense or untruths. My brain knows all the sensible reasons for the 'softly softly' approach but my motor mouth just ignores them. Sorry sad

sunseeker Wed 05-Apr-17 10:58:01

MaizieD But I am sure you can let them know that without resorting to insults and abuse.

rosesarered Wed 05-Apr-17 11:13:25

I did try and get that point across a few months ago Elegran my point was to be reasonably civil even in disagreement.
It doesn't need to be all that softly softly, but to stop personal comments on a political thread (of the kind I get all too often).
I put it down to an imbalance of political views, if a thread is dominated by left wing or has been seen, Remainers, ( often both together) then along comes somebody with a different view, then wallop! It won't be tolerated.Some balance is needed, but will that happen?Most people like a quiet life.

MaizieD Wed 05-Apr-17 11:24:53


I really do try, but what constitutes 'insults and abuse' is, in itself, a debatable notion.

sunseeker Wed 05-Apr-17 11:37:01

MaizieD I am sure you have sufficient command of language to make it clear you disagree with someone without, say, calling them stupid - that would, I think, be an insult.

MaizieD Wed 05-Apr-17 11:56:06

I don't think I've ever publicly called anyone on these forums 'stupid'. Though I'll admit to heavy sarcasm when deeply frustrated.

sunseeker Wed 05-Apr-17 12:26:23

Please don't misunderstand me - I was not for one moment suggesting you had called someone stupid. My apologies if you took it that way. When I said "you" I was speaking generally not specifically. I have at times resorted to what I hoped was amusing sarcasm myself!

Elegran Wed 05-Apr-17 13:07:59

I suppose what is really needed is a finely-judged level of with which makes even the receiver of it laugh but see the point and learn from it. I can imagine Sally Kohn being quite good at that - wonder whether she gives lessons? Not to those who won't listen, I fear.

Elegran Wed 05-Apr-17 13:08:31

Wit, not with!

Iam64 Wed 05-Apr-17 13:25:21

Thanks for this Elegran. I do try to avoid making confrontational comments, though I didn't succeed on the vegan discussion yesterday, with the result I had a word with myself.
We do seem to be living in an age where so called "straight talking", as demonstrated by Mr Trump is seen as more acceptable than avoiding confrontation. That old phrase "I call a spade a spade" was used a lot when I was growing up. My father always said it was an excuse to call something a bloody shovel, i.e. to be rude rather than express yourself clearly but politely. Simple good manners do make life more pleasant.

Elegran Wed 05-Apr-17 13:40:14

Whenever I hear that, I am reminded of an exchange in The Importance of being Earnest

"Cecily: Do you suggest, Miss Fairfax, that I entrapped Ernest into an engagement? How dare you? This is no time for wearing the shallow mask of manners. When I see a spade I call it a spade.
Gwendolen: [Satirically.] I am glad to say that I have never seen a spade. It is obvious that our social spheres have been widely different."

Jayanna9040 Wed 05-Apr-17 16:54:52

Wish I'd thought of that in the meeting Elegran. Too late now by several years!

TriciaF Wed 05-Apr-17 18:14:20

Elegran - I hardly dare say this ( too sexist?) but that's the way men argue. And a few women. Attack the person not the issue.
My husband had three very loud brothers, no sisters. His Dad was very strident too. His poor Mum was outnumbered and died an early death.
My family was mostly female, and my poor Dad was outnumbered. But he outwitted us all intellectually, so held his own.
I found female tactics useful when in my first proper job I was the only woman with 9 men. They were always surprised when I came up with a good idea.
But how do you introduce this into online, or Parliamentary discussions? I think Theresa May has adopted the male style of argument, like Thatcher.

Ana Wed 05-Apr-17 18:22:20

I agree about Theresa May, Tricia. I wonder whether it's inevitable that a female PM does that?

It would be interesting to see how someone like Yvette Cooper would adapt to the role...but of course, that's pure fantasy!

Iam64 Wed 05-Apr-17 19:50:50

I wish it wasn't only fantasy Ana.

Lilyflower Thu 06-Apr-17 10:34:50

Elegran, I completely agree wth you. Abuse and name calling are imperilling both public and private life. Perhaps the absence of a deliberate attempt to teach the young manners at home and in school is to blame (yet another casualty of liberal parenting). Certainly the anonymity conferred on those online seems to bring out the very worst in some and there is 'drift' once the inner 'nasty' is released.

There used to be middle class rues such as 'no politics or religion at the table' which could be usefully reinstated.

Certainly I regard it as totally beyond the pale to label others, as I have heard frequently done recently, as a 'racist, bigot, Kipper, Tory, deplorable or populist' in order to shut down a debate. Better to keep one's own opinions to oneself and practise the tolerance one is urging on others.

Lilyflower Thu 06-Apr-17 10:35:17

Rules, not rues. Sorry.

Stansgran Thu 06-Apr-17 10:50:05

Why is it an insult to be a Kipper? (I'm missing the point)