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How to Talk About Difficult Topics

By Arel

· Conversation,Personal,Instant Ideas,Psychology

Politics. Religion. Personal views. All taboo topics in America today, and everyone is told to avoid those topics when they can.

Even calling out someone for being late can become a touchy topic.

As touchy as these are, skirting these topics won't lead to the change you want to see in the world. On a micro level, you can't just let someone come late to work all the time. On a macro level, your mileage may vary...

Should you find it necessary to discuss these matters, what is a diplomatic and likable way to handle the situation? This is the topic we discuss on the latest episode of the Art of Likability today! Let's jump in....

Knee-jerk Reactions

When confronted with a highly touchy subject, many people have their own opinions on the matter. They manifest themselves in knee-jerk statements. Here's how that can sound:

On religion: the sworn atheist proudly labels all religious people as sheep who cannot think for themselves. The hard line religious person looks down upon his atheist counterparts and condemns them to irrevocable damnation for their flagrant sins.

On politics: A conservative unreservedly sees liberals as traitors to America. A liberal can't believe how backwards, uncultured, and utterly bereft of compassion right-wingers are .

No matter with which side you may sympathize, I'm sure you've seen enough political debates (and YouTube arguments) to know that shouting and insulting is no way to have an important discussion.

Now I'm not saying you should not have opinions! You should have opinions so you know who you are and where you stand!

If you are a manager who sees an employee come to work late all the time, you are certainly entitled to you opinion that this constant tardiness is no good, and it's time for a talk. But you wouldn't disparage this employee straight up, because you're a likable person (why else would you be here?)

Shouting insults and labels is no way to move minds and hearts. It's ultimately not a good tactic if your goal is to guide turn a fierce battle of an argument into a calm discussion.

broken image

If you can stand for what you believe in a likable way, the following two tactics can be the first step to create the change you want to see in the world.

Technique #1: Just Ask!

We each have our own important experiences and ways of seeing the world. The only thing is that these experiences color our viewpoint on the world, for better or for worse.

You can look back into the reaches of history to get that people just don't see eye to eye to start. Some people used to hold the Earth as the center of the universe, while Copernicus and Galileo's observations and studies told them otherwise.

Someone else's viewpoint may at first seem alien, but that's only because we haven't went through the same experiences they have. That's fine; they haven't seen it from our perspective.

If you're unfamiliar with where someone is coming from, just ask!

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Technique #2: Not Likable? Inadvisable!

If you ever feel a knee-jerk reaction coming on to a point of view, test it out with your own beliefs first. An example...

Let's say someone catches the thought that "[X religion] is terrible!"

The likable person will consider the effects of his words before he speaks. He will substitute his own belief system in, and see how that feels.

If it rubs you the wrong way, then don't say it!

Not likable? Inadvisable!

An Example from My Own Life:

Here are these techniques put into action. In light of the recent school violence tragedies, I wanted to get perspective on what gun owners thought about gun control.

I don't own guns myself, so I had to see what the other side of the argument:

If you'd like to chime in on the discussion, I'd love to hear your perspective on the matter too!

Remember, skirting an important conversation won't allow you to make the change you want to see in the world! Knowing and using the likable way will get you started to on the path to improve our society for everyone.

How have you handled touchy topics in the past? What do you think of these ones? Let me know, and remember:

You Are Awesome! *high-five*