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Grab Your Free 'Post-Debate Self-Reflection' Worksheet, Plus A Deep Dive In Adversarial Conversations



I want to examine the sociological dynamics of effective communication in adversarial conversations for progressives as well as share the free resource I created for you! In these types of discussions, active listening is a very important element. It’s not just about hearing the other person’s words, but making them feel heard, which is different. I am fascinated by the societal contexts that surround this considering probably everyone you know complains about the polarization in our world and things like how you can’t talk about certain issues at work and all sorts of limits we place on conversation due to the fact that as a society we don’t know how to have difficult conversations with people we disagree with. There is an important role of emotions in these interactions that reflects the complex balance between individual feelings and collective reasoning. Language choice is another critical aspect. Clarity makes ideas more accessible and preparation helps achieve informed discourse. This matters because there is a constantly evolving landscape of public discourse, where adapting to new information and perspectives is very important. The use of factual and rational arguments ties back to a societal preference for evidence-based discussions, highlighting the importance of data and logic in shaping opinions. While tolerance is a societal virtue, recognizing its limits in the face of harmful or intolerant views is crucial. This stance shows the societal emphasis on protecting fundamental progressive principles like human rights and equity. Effective communication in progressive discussions is a tiny piece of larger sociological processes. It’s about more than just exchanging ideas, it’s a reflection of how societal values, norms, and dynamics play out in our everyday interactions. So I've made a free worksheet as a follow up to the one designed for before you engage in a heated debate. This version is to help you reflect on how the conversation went after the fact. Remember, it's crucial not to dismiss those we morally disagree with as lost causes; every conversation is an opportunity for understanding and change. Embracing this mindset not only challenges us not to write off those we disagree with but also sets the stage for my upcoming series on the ‘Paradox of Tolerance’, which will be all about the line tolerating the intolerant (for example you’ll see this concept come up a lot in the debate surrounding the line between freedom of speech and hate speech or platforms’ right to censor people). A lot of the topics we will be getting into in this post are massive sociological topics in their own right and as per usual I had a hard time not writing a book on this subject and had a hard time not writing ‘that’s outside the scope of this blog post, expect a follow up post on this’ after pretty much every sentence. That being said, the ‘Paradox of Tolerance’ themed blog series is already in the works, so stay tuned for that!


Setting The Stage

Kicking off our deep dive into interesting sociological aspects of adversarial conversations, let's first address a part that sometimes gets overlooked: the setting. The impact of our words can be profoundly influenced by when and where they get spoken. Choosing the right environment for sensitive topics isn't just about comfort, it's about strategy. It's about finding a space that will make both sides feel openness and respect, where our words can resonate without distractions or unnecessary tension. Equally important is timing these conversations. In our fast-paced world we often see ourselves as an unwitting puppet to time, I know I do, but it’s important to try to view timing as a key player in ensuring our message is received with the attention and consideration it deserves. By being mindful of both setting and timing, we can significantly enhance the receptivity and effectiveness of our points, and not just be heard, but truly listened to. In virtual conversations, this principle translates to choosing the right platform and moment for dialogue, ensuring both everyone is engaged and ready for a meaningful exchange. I don’t believe that this is given enough attention in society. Hopefully when you are using the worksheet to do your reflection you can start to assess if you are paying attention to this and if not, see if making changes helps out at all. Please be sure to comment your findings below!


The Hard Part

Maintaining humility and respect is vital, which trust me I know is very difficult if we strongly disagree with their stances, or find it challenging to respect them as individuals. However, valuing another's perspective is crucial for productive dialogue. They’re not going to be able to make any headway with you if they feel like you hate them. They might seem irredeemable, but perhaps there was one small stance they had that could’ve been open to being changed and perhaps you were put on their path to change that stance. If you make them feel hated and irredeemable, that door will be shut and you won’t get that opportunity and they will go right back into the echo chambers they came from instead of being willing to engage with any other progressives that could possibly change their minds. There is a prevailing thought in progressive circles that ‘it is not my job as a marginalized person to educate bigots’ and I largely agree with this, but there are only so many privileged straight white liberal men to go around. I just think that while no person is EVER under obligation to engage with a bigoted person because it is draining and traumatizing, if you have that calling within you, like Daryl Davis, you can be extremely powerful. Balancing moral convictions with respect for differing views is a fucking difficult skill but it’s especially important for progressives who may find it challenging to engage in conversations with those holding opposing beliefs. One way to respectfully disagree is the 'Reflect and Redirect' method. You actively listen to the other person’s point of view and then reflect back what you've heard to make sure you understand what they said. This makes them feel as if you are showing respect and consideration for their perspective, even if it's not necessarily the case. Following this, you can redirect the conversation by calmly presenting your viewpoint with clear, reasoned arguments. I suggest always waiting a few moments until your heartbeat has calmed down a bit if you are engaging with someone particularly enraging. This method not only acknowledges the other person's stances but also provides a structured way to express your differing opinion without dismissing or invalidating theirs, allowing for a more open and respectful dialogue. Let me know in the comments below what you think about the importance of humility in keeping our dialogues productive and enlightening – your insights are super important to me! Even if respecting someone in these types of talks are hard, it's crucial to remember that empathy is key in understanding where they're coming from. While the mindset of a conservative is beyond the scope of this series, it’s important to approach each conversation with a willingness to understand and empathize.


Empathy

Empathetic communication is another tough one but it’s really important for allowing us to uphold our values of understanding and respect. It's essential to at least attempt to go into the conversation avoiding judgment and embracing inclusivity of viewpoints different from our own. We value diverse thoughts and ideas and do not want to be hypocrites. However, I firmly believe that hate speech is unequivocally unacceptable, and I am not a free speech absolutist. Words can oppress people. Words create actions and these things marginalize people and harm people. This brings me to the doorstep of the paradox of tolerance, a complex and intriguing topic that I will delve into in an upcoming blog series here on Doggone Progress. This upcoming series will explore the fine line between tolerance and the necessity to stand firm against harmful rhetoric, an area that's very important yet very challenging to deal with. Stay tuned as I will get into this complex and fascinating stuff in my upcoming discussions on the paradox of tolerance because if I try to get into all that here you will never leave this blog post. Anyway, this nuance is especially important in progressive dialogues, and we need to take time in our private reflection time to ensure we're not grappling with these internal conflicts while simultaneously defending other positions in an unrelated heated conversation. With this understanding of the delicate balance needed, I want to shift the focus to a fundamental part of effectively expressing our values, particularly in challenging conversations. Empathetic communication is one of the cornerstones of expressing progressive values effectively, especially on contentious topics. It's about more than just hearing the other person; it involves genuinely striving to understand the other person’s perspective, even when it is very different from our own. When we approach conversations with empathy, we're not just sharing our viewpoint; we're also acknowledging and respecting the feelings and experiences of our conversation partners. This doesn't mean agreeing with them, but rather framing our message in a way that's more likely to be received positively. In my approach to communication, I often imagine myself as a politician who needs to carefully 'spin' my message so it resonates with different 'constituent groups.' While this analogy might seem a bit dubious, considering the reputation of politicians, it's about adapting the delivery of your message to your audience effectively. As an autistic person I recognize my metaphors might not always sit well with the general perception, but I share this in hopes it might be a useful perspective for someone else. By working on our empathy, we get a deeper level of understanding and connection with people, which is huge for meaningful dialogue. It's through this empathetic lens that we can communicate our progressive ideals in a way that resonates, respects, and has serious power to influence. You’d be surprised. 


Certain Phrases

I think it’s worth bringing up how certain expressions, though deeply meaningful to us, can be received differently by those not yet familiar with their context. In our efforts to communicate progressive values, it's important to recognize that phrases like ‘men are trash’ and ‘defund the police’, for example, can be met with resistance by those who haven't understood their deeper meanings. I like to say that these types of expressions are in the 10th grade progressive curriculum and you’re talking to someone who just arrived on planet progressive and doesn’t even know the language. To them it’s horrifying and confusing because it conflicts with their current world view and when we respond to them as being bad people for their gut reactions to something they don’t understand, is it really any wonder that they don’t respond well to that? This isn’t meant to be a defense, I’m a liberal through-and-through, but I’m just calling it like it is with how these conversations are clearly not working. These expressions, born out of legitimate pain and a desire for change, are often interpreted as irrational or extreme by those who often only encounter them in heated moments. This highlights the necessity of using the lessons from this blog post to ensure our message is not only delivered with passion but also in a manner that invites understanding and dialogue. It's about bridging the gap between the intensity of our emotions and the receptiveness of our audience. This way the true intent and significance of our words can be fully appreciated and understood, even by those who might initially be taken aback by their forcefulness. Which let’s be real- is the point of some of the things like ‘men are trash’. 


Avoiding Emotional Triggers

This leads me to my next point which is that in order to get anywhere it’s necessary to avoid emotional triggers so sometimes you have to choose your battles with stuff like that and you can’t jump into the most insanely controversial topics with someone you have completely opposing worldviews with until you develop a more mutually respectful relationship. In our dialogues, it's wise to identify and consciously avoid language that may inadvertently provoke those with fundamentally different worldviews, ensuring a more constructive and open conversation. This isn’t to say you can never get to a place of more controversial topics, but maybe not start there? You might be surprised to find that within the vast realm of political and sociological topics that can be debated, you might actually find some small points that you can agree on with even the most demographically different person than you. Navigating adversarial conversations can be super challenging, especially when they unfold in real-time and without a script. I mentioned my Autism, so having that alongside mental and physical health struggles, I've learned the immense value of preparation in life and I’ve found that applying that to conversations like this works really well which is why I created the first worksheet I made. It’s the best way you can help yourself ahead of time for things to go as smoothly as possible. If you are always trying to do this, it’s kind of a “shoot for the moon, land amongst the stars” situation. Yes, you’re never going to be prepared for everything. But if you’re educating yourself and being a prepared person, it will pay off. And if you’re following the advice in this blog post and doing active reflection after the fact, the results will be even better because it will help your future preparations be better than they were in the past. Being prepared doesn't mean having a rehearsed script (although for me personally I would love it if I could operate that way, but I digress), it's about arming yourself with knowledge, understanding potential triggers, and being aware of your own emotional and physical state. This preparation is a form of self-care, so that when you enter into these conversations, you do so with a clear mind and a steady heart. In my experience, this readiness transforms the quality of the interaction. It helps in keeping your shit together, even when the other party might be combative or confrontational. Educating yourself, understanding different perspectives, and being mindful of your own wellbeing can significantly influence the outcome of a challenging dialogue. Staying informed about common triggers in these dialogues is really helpful, it allows you to anticipate and navigate contentious topics without getting caught off guard. It's a strategy that has made a world of difference for me and people I’ve talked to about this, turning potential conflicts into opportunities for meaningful exchanges.


Focusing on Logos and Ethos Rather Than Pathos

In progressive discourse, there’s a major need to shift our focus more towards logos and ethos, rather than predominantly relying on pathos. Feel free to comment below on if I should do a blog post getting into what those three things are or if you already know and don’t need a refresher! This perspective stems from the observation that progressives, often fueled by a deep passion for justice and equity, can sometimes be perceived as 'irrational' or 'illogical' by broader audiences. I contend our anger and passion are justified in the face of rampant injustice, but our overreliance on emotional appeals can sometimes overshadow the logical and ethical foundations of our arguments. By strengthening the logical and ethical aspects of our discourse, we can effectively counter the stereotype of irrationality. This doesn’t mean suppressing the emotional aspect of our communication, because if you’ve ever watched the news or read a click-baity headline or seen a movie you know it can be effective. Instead, it’s about balancing our passion with logic and a strong sense of credibility. That way we not only reinforce the validity of our viewpoints but also enhance our ability to engage with a wider audience in a more impactful and persuasive manner. So in this second worksheet I have a section where I took some inspiration from a concept in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). There is a 'wise mind' idea that I have turned into a "Mind Balance Spectrum" to help you assess how rationally you think performed in your conversation.



The DBT Concept of Wise Mind has 3 facets, usually presented as a Venn Diagram with  ‘Wise Mind’ in the middle, ‘Rational Mind’ to one side and ‘Emotional Mind’ to the other side’. Rational mind being basically how it sounds: the state of mind that allows you to think things through rationally using your personal experience as a guide as well as things like facts and planning. On the other hand Emotional Mind is a state where that is more difficult and you are only using emotions to make decisions. Wise Mind is the state that is presented as a state situated in the middle of Rational Mind and Emotional Mind and is taught in DBT as the state you want to strive to get yourself to. So in my version of the "Mind Balance Spectrum" (which again I’m not claiming to have invented anything new it literally is just this just aesthetically different) and it has a scale from 1-10 with “Rational” on the left and “Emotional” on the right and “Wise” in the middle, and you are asked to rank your performance in your conversation. The analogy looks like this: Rational Mind: Reflect on how you used logic and facts (logos) during the conversation, assessing whether your arguments were grounded in solid research and clear reasoning. Wise Mind: Reflect on how effectively you balanced rational thinking with emotional understanding, maintaining credibility (ethos) while also connecting emotionally. Emotional Mind: Reflect on your reliance on emotional appeals (pathos); note instances where emotions might have overshadowed logical arguments or impacted your message's clarity.


Avoiding Logical Fallacies

The widespread awareness of logical fallacies has ironically led to debates often devolving into a 'gotcha' game, where people focus more on pinpointing fallacies than engaging in the substance of the argument. This trend not only completely fucking sidetracks discussions but also frequently sparks secondary debates over the technicalities and definitions of these fallacies, further detracting from meaningful dialogue. This trend shows the importance for progressives to master avoiding logical fallacies so we can avoid these types of diversions and keep conversations focused on substantive dialogue. The mastery of logical fallacies should be used strategically in our dialogues rather than serving as ammunition for low-brow "gotcha" moments. When encountering someone entangled in fallacious reasoning, the goal shouldn't be to triumphantly call out their errors in a moment of debate victory as glorious as that feels. Trust me I know. It’s actually far more productive and enlightening to gently guide them through their reasoning, using facts and calm, thoughtful questions. It’s all about the delayed gratification. This approach helps illuminate the flaws in their logic without being overtly confrontational and a giant bag of dicks. By engaging in this manner, we create an environment conducive to learning and understanding, rather than one of defensiveness and conflict. It's about using our knowledge of logical fallacies not as a weapon to shame others, but as a tool. I also know it's tempting as hell to push back emotionally or even immaturely when faced with offensive remarks or logical fallacies, it's crucial to resist stooping to that level, maintaining the integrity and constructiveness of the dialogue. Resist, comrades! I highly recommend the book Logically Fallacious by Bo Bennett, it’s available as an audiobook which is how I read it (that’s how I read everything actually) and then he has everything on his website if you want to go back and reference it






Listening Skills

Active listening plays a crucial role in these types of discussions, particularly with people we may struggle to respect; it's a powerful tool for trying to dredge up empathy from the depths of hell. Good communication is as much about listening as it is about speaking. Non-verbal communication is an important part of communicating effectively, a realm where I admittedly have limited expertise despite years of study. However, I understand that small details in body language and expression can really influence how people feel, ultimately boiling down to showing empathy and making the other person feel comfortable and understood. A practical technique for effective listening in adversarial conversations is to periodically summarize the other person's points, ensuring you've understood their perspective correctly and demonstrating your genuine engagement. Take it from someone who often feels like a robot in a human suit, you can absolutely effectively fool people into believing you are cool by doing that. 





I know you might be thinking ‘I don’t give a shit if this conservative fuckface thinks I’m cool or not’ yeah I know me neither but temporarily for the duration of the conversation you should because that’s the only way a conversation moves forward. If not you’re just trying to fight with someone and honestly that makes you kinda a fuckface too. Validating others' viewpoints in a disagreement is not about conceding your stance. It's about acknowledging the validity of their experiences and feelings. 


Focusing on Common Ground

Finding and leveraging shared beliefs or goals is crucial, it creates a common ground that can serve as a powerful foundation for more productive discussions. Humans are complex and this world has so much to offer with so many hundreds of different topics to discuss. I would be really surprised if there was not a single small thing you couldn’t find with the person that you had in common. Hitler and I both love German Shepherds. Does this mean me and Hitler agree on anything else? Fuck no. Does it mean I could’ve changed his mind on anything? I don’t know, I would assume not given that I’m queer and non-binary. However my point stands that there is SOMETHING. If I am talking about my Christian coworker who is mostly okay with some problematic beliefs who actually is worth engaging instead of Hitler, then it’s worth figuring out what our ‘German Shepherd’ is. So you need to identify areas of common interest or neutral topics that are enjoyable for both parties. These could be shared memories, hobbies, or surface-level general life updates. Building conversations around these areas can establish and strengthen your connection. A useful technique for figuring out common ground in adversarial conversations is to ask open-ended questions about the other person's values and experiences, which can reveal unexpected areas of agreement. Let me know in the comments below if you know about open-ended questions or if you would like me to do a blog post about this!


Personal Stories and Anecdotes

Clear language plays a crucial role in preventing misunderstandings; using specific, unambiguous terms and steering clear of jargon or overly complex expressions ensures your message is understood as intended. A practical technique for simplifying complex ideas while preserving their spirit is to use analogies or real-life examples that resonate with your audience. Personal stories and anecdotes can be a powerful tool in communication, offering relatable and impactful insights, but it's important to balance them wisely, because overuse can potentially undermine your credibility and detract from the logical and ethical aspects of your argument. With brevity, relevance, and credibility, and without resorting to hyperbole, your stories and anecdotes can really step up the persuasiveness of your message. On the flip side, relying too heavily on them can inadvertently damage your credibility, because it might shift the focus from logos and ethos to purely pathos. This over-emphasis on the emotional aspect risks reinforcing the stereotype of progressives as 'too emotional' or 'irrational,' overshadowing your kick ass points. For those interested in learning how to craft and share more compelling personal stories and anecdotes in adversarial conversations, consider practicing storytelling techniques and reflecting on past experiences to identify impactful moments. Ask friends for constructive feedback so you can refine your skills. When reflecting on and practicing your stories and anecdotes, ensure they are connected to broader issues, enhancing their relevance and credibility in discussions and reinforcing their connection to the larger conversation.


Educating Rather Than Confronting

Although it’s a tough mindset switch, shifting the focus from ‘debating’ to ‘educating’ in conversations can transform potentially contentious interactions into opportunities for learning. In adversarial conversations, presenting information in a non-confrontational manner encourages open dialogue and hopefully reduces defensive reactions. If you have to, view the person you are speaking to with pity for how ignorant, bigoted, or hateful they are. Do what you need to do mentally to be able to allow yourself to not engage as if you are in a heated fight. Unethical Life Pro Tip: The internal monologue you use to maintain civility in a conversation that could potentially lead to deradicalization doesn’t need to be shared, what matters is the positive outcome of the dialogue. One method to turn a heated conversation into a learning opportunity is to try to shift the focus from ‘winning the argument’ to exploring and understanding each other's viewpoints, trying to establish a collaborative instead of a combative environment. Collaboration is a theme you will be seeing a lot of on this blog. Genuine curiosity and a desire for learning in discussions is so important, it creates a situation where both parties can explore ideas and get something out of the interaction, rather than simply defending entrenched positions, which is just pointless and a waste of everyone’s time. 


When You Want To Rip Their Head Off

Navigating resistance and frustration with slow progress in the context of conversations like we’ve been talking about requires a shitload of patience and tolerance, because understanding and change often develop gradually. Change often takes time. The phrase "if nothing changes, nothing changes," my Grandma would always say comes to mind when I consider the importance of patience and tolerance in effective communication. I used to hate this phrase as a kid because of how absurd it seemed to be but there is wisdom to it if you think past the simplicity. It shows the necessity of embracing change for progress, both in ourselves and in our advocacy. Not every discussion we engage in will bring about immediate understanding or agreement, but each respectful exchange, approached with patience and tolerance, can potentially be a meaningful step forward. I know it might not be, but isn’t our whole thing as progressives that we believe it’s worth trying? It reminds us that while the steps towards mutual understanding in conversations can be gradual, our willingness to adapt our approach and remain open-minded is really important. This is where those empathy skills come into play. Try to remember if there are any issues you’ve ever had outdated opinions on, and have empathy for the person you’re struggling to communicate with that there is a chance that they could have a redemption arc like you did. I know for me as a millennial I am very glad there were no cameras in the 90s and 2000s because I would have some unfortunate footage of me doing what everyone I knew did and calling everything I thought was uncool ‘gay’ despite the fact that I ended up being a member of the alphabet mafia myself. I’m very embarrassed about that now but also very grateful to the conversations I had with people who helped get me to where I am now and glad I didn’t remain stuck in that place because there are people I know who have not moved past that. In 2023. A useful coping strategy in frustrating adversarial conversations is to take brief pauses to collect your thoughts and emotions, ensuring you remain calm and focused even when the discussion doesn't go as planned. This readiness for change ensures that each conversation, no matter how challenging, contributes to the broader process of growth and understanding, making every one of these difficult interactions you brave progressives are willing to engage in a valuable part of the journey towards positive change.


Reflection on Feedback

Understanding that two things can be true at once is vital in conversations: even if someone holds views we find morally questionable, their responses and arguments can inadvertently serve as feedback, helping us self-reflect and enhance our approach in future discussions. If your conversation concludes on a positive note and you feel safe doing so, consider seeking feedback directly. Politely asking for their perspective on the discussion's flow can provide insightful input, allowing you to reflect constructively and adapt your approach for future conversations. I have done this as a personal challenge to myself because if we expect problematic people to be open to seeking and implementing feedback, I want to be the type of person who can demonstrate that quality and I have learned a lot as a result. Although the focus of this post is to introduce the worksheet for self-assessment, obtaining outside feedback can be really interesting. However, it's important to take it with a grain of salt, especially if the other person’s worldview fundamentally clashes with your identity and values. Use good judgment, and remember, feedback from someone who may not fully respect or understand you isn't always a reflection of your true abilities or worth.


Continual Learning

Do not stop learning just because you think you know all of your stances, science is constantly evolving, laws are constantly being updated, politics/business are global, so things change on an hourly basis. If you haven’t opened a book or the news in months there actually is a good chance that your racist uncle is more informed than you and that should terrify you. Don’t be afraid to challenge your own ideas, stay skeptical. I’m an atheist but I really like the Jewish approach to this. The Dunning-Kruger Effect is a thing where people overestimate how much they know.  From a sociological perspective, this can be seen in groups, where people feel more confident about their understanding of issues due to group reinforcement, despite lacking the expertise they think they have. Recognizing the limits of your own knowledge is super important to everything I’m talking about in this post, it not only strengthens your arguments (logos and ethos) but also counters the misconception of progressives being driven solely by emotion (pathos). Understanding the Dunning-Kruger Effect in adversarial discussions helps to remain vigilant about our own knowledge gaps and encourages humility. Hopefully it also motivates you to stay informed, seek feedback, continue learning, and all of the other things we’ve talked about as well so you don’t fall into this trap yourself, but it also can help you take what the other person is saying with a grain of salt. Humility and openness in learning are crucial, even with someone you may not respect, as they help guard against overestimating our own understanding and encourage genuine knowledge growth. If you are not 100% sure on a fact, do not dig your heels in. Take a moment to breathe and let the other person talk. You can look up more on the subject after the conversation. Do not give them a reason to discredit you because you were eager to estimate something you were semi-sure on. From politicians asserting overly certain viewpoints in debates to individuals on social media confidently discussing complex issues like climate change with limited knowledge, overconfidence is a common thread. It surfaces in various arenas, from public health, where non-experts boldly shared views on Covid, to corporate and academic settings, where individuals sometimes overshadow more informed opinions with their own assertive yet under-informed assertions. We can be better than this and my free worksheets are designed to help you improve your skills.


(I really hope I have a readership that can tell that he in character btw.)


Thinking You Are Superior Because Your Positions Are Morally Superior

In adversarial conversations, there's a subtle trap that progressives can fall into: assuming a position of superiority simply because our beliefs are seen as morally superior. Trust me I’ve been guilty of this plenty of times against my racist family, wish I could say I haven’t been but it’s true. This mindset, while rooted in strong ethical convictions, can inadvertently lead to a dismissive or condescending tone, blocking meaningful dialogue and possibly ruining relationships. It's very important to remember that holding progressive values doesn't mean we should dehumanize people. Such an attitude not only alienates those with differing views but also closes off the possibility of understanding and potentially influencing their perspectives. True progressivism involves engaging with respect and openness, recognizing that moral superiority is not a constructive foundation for dialogue. Instead, focusing on empathy, informed arguments, and mutual respect can pave the way for more productive and enlightening conversations. This attitude is no better than the behavior we criticize in others, reflecting the same close-mindedness and lack of empathy we aim to challenge. (Again, I know this gets into the paradox of tolerance, and make sure you keep checking back for the upcoming series on that!) Don't be too hard on yourself if you fall into this trap, it's a natural human inclination when you are fighting injustice. However, it's important to remain self-aware and actively work to check yourself.


So finally, I'm excited to introduce Part Two of the free worksheet I've created for you, designed to be a valuable tool in your journey to becoming a better debater. This worksheet is meant to complement your journaling process. It provides a structured way to assess your performance, reflect on your strengths and areas for improvement, and track your growth over time. There is huge power and responsibility that come with our words and actions. From often-overlooked things like choosing the right time and place and non-verbal communication, maintaining humility and respect, to empathizing and avoiding emotional triggers and logical fallacies, each aspect we've explored is a vital piece of the puzzle. I got into the importance of focusing on logos and ethos over pathos, the art of clear and precise communication, and the significance of listening skills and finding common ground. The discussion on personal stories, the balance between educating and confronting. We've tackled the challenges of patience and tolerance, especially in the face of the paradox of tolerance, and the critical need for self-reflection and continual learning. Remember, as progressives, we must constantly guard against the trap of believing we are superior because we are on the correct side of history. It's a delicate balance of advocating passionately while remaining open to learning and growth. That’s why to help with this I introduced a free worksheet, designed to help you assess and improve your performance in difficult conversations. This tool is a reflection of our commitment to becoming more effective communicators and more impactful changemakers. So if you’re still reading, thank you for sticking around! The path to effective communication is ongoing, filled with learning and unlearning, speaking and listening, challenging and being challenged. Let's continue to grow, reflect, and engage on this road together, using our voices to try to find understanding, respect, and progress. I believe that learning from our past conversations is a powerful engine for progressivism as a whole, and is the type of thing that if enough of us were to do, over time that would cause a more informed, empathetic, and ultimately improved world.


Edit/Update: When I emphasized the importance of engaging with differing viewpoints, I noted that understanding their mindset was as crucial but outside the scope of my series. I've since discovered a valuable resource that perfectly complements this discussion: Adam Conover's YouTube video, "What Liberals Get Wrong about the Right with Corey Robin". Their fascinating conversation goes deep on the topic and compliments my points on the importance of not writing off conservative perspectives. While this content is independent of my original post, I highly recommend it for those interested in expanding their understanding of engaging across the political spectrum.












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