Tough on ideas, not the person

Many of my friends (and clients too!) roll in social justice circles. We discuss feminism and equality and all the wonderful things that happen in the world. They've taught me much—the difference between equality and equity, what is emotional labour, why a group that was formed because it was excluded by another want to exclude. What's right, and what's wrong.

One of the my main learnings of skilful communication is to not take be wary of taking a position. Positional arguments gloss over the needs of the conflicted parties; you're more likely to gain mutual understanding and rapport if you back up and build your solution collaboratively on shared values, and a collaborative process will, in a virtuous cycle, build rapport and understanding. Be wary of positions. Focus on the future. Neutrality is gold. Let go of rights and wrongs.

But, in this world, there are rights and wrongs.

There are facts and untruths. How do we tease out facts from untruths without attacking the person who spoke? What scripts do we have that make us attack people instead of ideas? What new scripts and habits do we need?

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