Wednesday, August 20, 2008

How to talk to someone who won't listen

Namely Republicans. An older article by George Lakoff but as we are coming up on this election, very apt:
  • Avoid the usual mistakes. Remember, don’t just negate the other person’s claims; reframe. The facts unframed will not set you free. You cannot win just by stating the true facts and showing that they contradict your opponent’s claims. Frames trump facts. His frames will stay and the facts will bounce off. Always reframe.
  • If you remember nothing else about framing, remember this: Once your frame is accepted into the discourse, everything you say is just common sense.* Why? Because that’s what common sense is: reasoning within a commonplace, accepted frame.
  • Never answer a question framed from your opponent’s point of view. Always reframe the question to fit your values and your frames. This may make you uncomfortable, since normal discourse styles require you to directly answer questions posed. That is a trap. Practice changing frames.
  • Be sincere. Use frames you really believe in, based on values you really hold.
  • A useful thing to do is to use rhetorical questions: *Wouldn’t it be better if...? Such a question should be chosen to presuppose your frame. Example:* Wouldn’t it be better if we had a president who went to war with a plan to secure the peace?
  • Stay away from set-ups. Fox News shows and other rabidly conservative shows try to put you in an impossible situation, where a conservative host sets the frame and insists on it, where you don’t control the floor, can’t present your case, and are not accorded enough respect to be taken seriously. If the game is fixed, don’t play.
  • Tell a story. Find stories where your frame is built into the story. Build up a stock of effective stories.
  • Always start with values, preferably values all Americans share like security, prosperity, opportunity, freedom, and so on. Pick the values most relevant to the frame you want to shift to. Try to win the argument at the values level. Pick a frame where your position exemplifies a value everyone holds — like fairness. Example: Suppose someone argues against a form of universal health care. If people don’t have health care, he argues, it’s their own fault. They’re not working hard enough or not managing their money properly. We shouldn’t have to pay for their lack of initiative or their financial mismanagement. Frame shift: Most of the forty million people who can’t afford health care work full-time at essential jobs that cannot pay enough to get them health care. Yet these working people support the lifestyles of the top three-quarters of our population. Some forty million people have to do those hard jobs — or you don’t have your lifestyle. America promises a decent standard of living in return for hard work. These workers have earned their health care by doing essential jobs to support the economy. There is money in the economy to pay them. Tax credits are the easiest mechanism. Their health care would be covered by having the top 2 percent pay the same taxes they used to pay. It’s only fair that the wealthy pay for their own lifestyles, and that people who provide those lifestyles get paid fairly for it.
There's more. (Odd thing, the letter cited at the top of the post did not show up until I highlighted it. Scroll down for the excellent points.)

And speaking of oldies but goodies, Rachel Maddow trying to get Democrats to stop falling into traps:

Things haven't changed much, have they?

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