Talking At, Not With: The Problem of Disconnected Conversations

Ever watch two people having a conversation, and neither of them are talking about the same thing?

A while back, I was having a conversation with a friend about politics. It started off pretty even keeled, but the longer we talked the more heated it became. I would make a point. My friend would make a point. Then I would make another point. Then so would my friend. And so that cycle of point-counterpoint continued, each of us building up our points as if there were an imaginary judge that would declare a winner.

Everyone Has Their Reasons: Be Wary of Labeling Others as Irrational

“It just doesn’t make sense.”
“They’re acting against their own interests.”
“I’m sure they’ll listen to reason.”
“They’re being irrational.”

How often do you hear people use these kinds of phrases? How often do you hear people describe those they disagree with, or don’t quite understand, as being “irrational?” When we call someone irrational, we lose the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of that individual’s values. In essence, we write that person off.