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Opinion: Three questions that could reduce hostile conversations
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You and I could instantly name two or three dozen current topics that often generate hostile discussions, name-calling and even destruction of friendships. Samples: political preferences, homelessness, gender identity, abortion, racial bias, criminal justice and border protection.

Without oversimplifying a solution to the abundant angry disputes surrounding us, I suggest that these three provocative questions could reduce the disruptive hostility that kills conversations:

  • First: “Why do you feel that way?” This question indicates we will listen quietly, patiently and openly to the reasons behind our conversational partner’s unyielding opinions. Demonstrating respect becomes the first step in understanding and relationship improvement.
  • Second: “Will you let me explain why I disagree?” If you have genuinely given the other person an opportunity to state his or her case, chances are good you’ll get a chance to explain your position.
  • Third: “What are some basic opinions we have in common?” After focusing on divisive issues, identifying points of agreement shifts our talking to a positive approach. Often this question prompts surprising answers, showing that we’re not polar opposites.

I’m not an idealistic dreamer. From firsthand experience, I know this conflict resolution formula works with individuals of various persuasions and corporations of all sizes. Try it. You’ll welcome the harmonious results.

Bill Lampton