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Learning the vocabulary/language in order to have meaningful conversations

 
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Just last night I heard a news summary on the radio, where the announcer made an error when reporting about a proposed gun regulation (used an incorrect model number for an affected rifle). I get that he may have misread a script, that may have had a typo... but to me it was a glaring, cringeworthy mistake.
The sort of thing that instantly identified them/the news outlet as a outgroup to any gun enthusiast. Leading to a shutdown of communication, “here we go again...how about you educate yourself first, and then maybe we can talk...”
So, how about it? What are people’s thoughts about taking time/making the effort to educate themselves about an issue in order to have a conversation across a divide?
Paul Wheaton wants folks coming to stay at the lab to have listened to ALL the podcasts. In hopes that the conversation can build on them rather than spend the time getting everyone up to speed.
 
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I've had many nice conversations with people who have very limited knowledge of the English language. One man, saw me looking at a Pinoy motorcycle that was for sale. He tapped the gas tank with his fingernails, and said "problems". Then he pointed at his Honda, and said "good one".  I nodded and said thank you.  

Others who don't know how to say left or right, still managed to help me find gasoline, with sweeping arm motions. I've bought fruit and barbecued pork from others with a limited vocabulary.  In each case, I was in their country, and we communicated in my language. So really, I was the one with the limited vocabulary.  

Charlie Odinga, is a 6 year old Luo from Kenya. He introduced himself and 3 others, then shook my hand and peppered me with questions while his mother shopped for vegetables. I don't speak any Luo. Charlie speaks Luo, Swahili  and some English.
 
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Dale, what you say is one part of the communication, but the meaningful conversation Kenneth was talking about is something else and goes beyond words meaning. lol I cannot understand paul's accent very well, so I ever listen to any podcast (if they made transcripts I might have  chance...). I am sure I can have meaningful conversatios though, because meaning beyond translation is a global view of the world, it is how we give meaning to all that is not very coherent. It is about story telling, as we learned from a recent autor here, Matt dicks.


But ok, something is about vocabulary too, and yes if we want to go deeper, we need more vocabulary.


If we need to use the words "insect" or "tree", we cannot talk about our environment with people who really know it!
 
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Kenneth Elwell wrote:Just last night I heard a news summary on the radio, where the announcer made an error when reporting about a proposed gun regulation (used an incorrect model number for an affected rifle). I get that he may have misread a script, that may have had a typo... but to me it was a glaring, cringeworthy mistake.
The sort of thing that instantly identified them/the news outlet as a outgroup to any gun enthusiast. Leading to a shutdown of communication, “here we go again...how about you educate yourself first, and then maybe we can talk...”
So, how about it? What are people’s thoughts about taking time/making the effort to educate themselves about an issue in order to have a conversation across a divide?
Paul Wheaton wants folks coming to stay at the lab to have listened to ALL the podcasts. In hopes that the conversation can build on them rather than spend the time getting everyone up to speed.



I think you're right that the wrong term can sometimes cause us to shut down and think we're being lectured at by someone who doesn't understand or care about what matters to us. A very important aspect of communication too isn't just using the right words, but speaking in terms of values the other party will resonate with. Here's on model of those values:


 
Xisca Nicolas
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I do not really see how to use this big diagram!
We cannot either be some sort of false chameleon trying to use others' values in order to be créate some bond... This looks like strategy I have seen dating men use, or comercials trying to sell!

I find true though that meaning in the sense of making meaning of life, has to do with values, but who has ever met somebody who shares all the same values?

…..


This largely tells the truth about "meaning" being the cement that creates some of our personal coherence, when it has been hurt by some life events and that we had to find a meaning out of it… As we say "so that it makes sense"... and we believe that things happened to us so that we could learn a lesson, learn from a mistake... Then of course, try to make meet 2 persons who received opposite lessons! Who Will want to encounter an old trauma hidden behind a belief, that can even be a false belief that is easier to believe than what really happened…
 
Kenneth Elwell
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Matthew Legge wrote:
I think you're right that the wrong term can sometimes cause us to shut down and think we're being lectured at by someone who doesn't understand or care about what matters to us. A very important aspect of communication too isn't just using the right words, but speaking in terms of values the other party will resonate with.



Caring, and a willingness to understand about other viewpoints and recognizing (and respecting) the other party's values is important for sure.
Using profanity, for example, might turn one person off, or it might open another person up.
Dale's motorcycle shopping experience is relevant, in a way, since the other man cared enough to make the effort to warn Dale of a bad deal.

Willingness to communicate often involves patience, which can be in short supply if the other party is asked to both teach you about the topic, and argue for their stance on the issue. I tested the resolve of a vegan coworker, by asking lots of questions as I got to know him (he is now a dear friend) and more than once, he told me that I "...could look all this up on the internet, you know."

Xisca Nicolas wrote:
I do not really see how to use this big diagram!



I think the diagram is a bit like a thesaurus, where some people think the different things when asked about the topic. For example: ACHIEVEMENT, one person might think INTELLIGENCE, while another might think CAPABLE, which might mean one person values a college degree, while the other values real world experience/on the job training.
 
Xisca Nicolas
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Ok now I can see it, like different examples of how we can value each theme. What can make us feel we reach achievement, or feel security…

I try to express my values in terms of "this is how I see this in terms of causes and consequences".

In my somatic tradition, "meaning" means how our mind "glues" things together to make sense of our experiences and integrate them. The same story can one day change meaning because after an accident as a child, we had for example seen the anger of our dad and it felt bad and then after some personal work about the memory and the emotional let go, the person can suddenly see another meaning, dad was not angry at me and my mistake, but so upset that I might have died! So he loved me and now i can feel it and see it so clearly! This is the sort of thing that i call meaning.
 
Matthew Legge
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Xisca Nicolas wrote:I do not really see how to use this big diagram!
We cannot either be some sort of false chameleon trying to use others' values in order to be créate some bond... This looks like strategy I have seen dating men use, or comercials trying to sell!

I find true though that meaning in the sense of making meaning of life, has to do with values, but who has ever met somebody who shares all the same values?



Hi Xisca,
I think you're raising some good points here! My purpose in sharing that particular image wasn't to say you have to do something with it if you don't want to. I think it does a good job of showing how there are different values out there and research suggests that if we're thinking about one value, we'll tend not to think about an opposing one. We're each complicated and full of contradictions! So the point isn't to try to manipulate people, but it is to think carefully about what values are we encouraging by our communications and what values are we blocking? Each of us has a range of these values but if you care a lot about one and I care a lot about another that can make it tougher for us to hear each other. I agree with what Kenneth says here:

I think the diagram is a bit like a thesaurus, where some people think the different things when asked about the topic. For example: ACHIEVEMENT, one person might think INTELLIGENCE, while another might think CAPABLE, which might mean one person values a college degree, while the other values real world experience/on the job training.



I think these values were studied in around 30 countries so they should be relevant cross-culturally to a degree, but they're still only one theory with other ones out there too. Thanks for your more recent post on this thread too, which draws attention to the ways our understanding and experience of meaning can change.
 
Xisca Nicolas
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Thanks Matthew you are pleasant to read and obviously walking your talk!
I cannot copy from my phone now I was reacting about taking others values into account because when people do, I feel they are not true to themselves.
If you read me about veganism, it is easy with some neighbours because we have respect for our values. But if I felt hidden contempt , that would be different.

About vocabulary, I am super picky about meaning,  with the challenge of a foreign language added... because I got it transmitted by my mom unconsciously.
As a child she realized quite late that her mom had not lost a child in the forest but that this elder brother had died.

We all have some sort of emotions behind our reactions!
 
Xisca Nicolas
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Matthew do you talk about neuro diversity?
As an Aspie, I find difficult to use words precision without getting some emotional reactions!

I  believe there is enough neurodiversities to complicate the ways we react and cannot believe sometimes how others react.

It would feel so good to be more informed about some big differences in the autistic spectrum. Neuro different people trigger each other and misunderstand each other.

Being also a dog behaviorist,  people also fight with their dog for the same reasons!  We are similar enough but miss the differences!
 
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Xisca Nicolas wrote:
As an Aspie, I find difficult to use words precision without getting some emotional reactions!

I  believe there is enough neurodiversities to complicate the ways we react and cannot believe sometimes how others react.

It would feel so good to be more informed about some big differences in the autistic spectrum. Neuro different people trigger each other and misunderstand each other.



You  bring up a good point about reactions. Some words are emotional triggers for people. Saying the wrong word can escalate a debate into an argument.

At the same time, we can't know everyone's trigger words, and I think people are responsible for their own emotions. But if my goal is to keep a nice debate going, and I see an emotional reaction to something I said, I try to apologize quickly. I explain what I meant by that word and ask what it means to them.

If their is a gap in knowledge about the debate topic, it will take some extra time and patience to have a productive conversation. I enjoy this kind of conversation, but not everyone does, so I think it's acceptable to politely step out and refer the person to learning materials.
 
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I think it's really important to take the time to understand an issue before you start engaging with someone with a different viewpoint, especially if you're going to be telling them what to do. I've had a lot of non gardeners tell me that I shouldn't do this or that with my yard because they don't understand what I'm doing and have never done it themselves, but are parroting conventional wisdom, which is often wrong. It can feel like too much effort to explain from square 1 why I'm doing what I'm doing so I often just shrug my shoulders and say we will see. It's not really an issue since few things I want to do are illegal or at risk of becoming illegal, so it doesn't matter if they agree with what I'm doing or not. I've never owned a gun but I've seen a lot of sloppy communication from people who don't use guns but think they are qualified to write gun legislation. It's getting to the point where I'm starting to get annoyed on behalf of other people. There are a lot of assumptions about both guns and gun owners floating around that I know aren't true, but more nuanced voices don't make as good of a sound bite I guess.
 
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Some great points being brought up here!

To answer the question no I don't get into neurodiversity or mental health issues in the book. In part I chose not to do that because there's a lot of controversy out there about how to define different conditions like autism - is it one condition, a number of distinct conditions, a spectrum, what are the cut-off points, etc. It's a very complicated topic and I didn't feel I could address it well (and the book already had a ton of content). One issue that's very significant in some violent conflicts and communications problems that I didn't get into is fetal alcohol syndrome.

In terms of triggers and emotions, that comes up in a few places but chapters 7, 8, and 16 in particular. I agree that we can do our best but we can never know which words will trigger which responses in people since literally any word could trigger someone in unexpected ways. I also talk about the drawbacks with trying to censor words and impose trigger warnings etc.

And finally yes, it is extremely important to approach an issue with curiosity rather than certainty. That alone makes a huge difference to how the conversation will go. If those people asked you, Meg, "Why are you doing thing X with your garden?" in a way that showed they were sincerely curious rather than being preachy or judgmental, even if you didn't feel like explaining it in detail to them, you might still have had a richer conversation that both of you got more out of.

When someone doesn't have curiosity, one tip you can use is to ask them how questions. How does their belief work? If they're just parroting something they don't understand too well, it's unlikely they'll know the specific details about how it works. So if they say "You should be doing your gardening like this." You can respond with "How would that work?" Once we try to explain things and discover that we don't understand the mechanisms at play as well as we thought we did, studies find that our certainty (over-confidence really) is greatly reduced. So this can open up a space for dialogue better than trying to simply convince the other person that they're wrong. More about this in Chapter 6 of the book, which you can get for free on the website https://arewedonefighting.com
 
Xisca Nicolas
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I have a suggestion too about people feeling more judgemental than curious... Why are they not curious?
A puppy can show the answer! FEAR.
So if you have the time to guess this before you are too emotionally triggered...
I would answer by this question:
"What surprises you about what I have done?"
What we feel as judgement is often a spontaneous reaction of surprise! And surprise holds some fear, destabilisation at least.

So if you ask a question that both addresses the material reality and the emotion... it might help.
At practical level, it can inform you very precisely, so that your next bit of sharing can look like this :
"You could not know it but this ... made it impossible"

Most people have general ideas, even good ones, but forget  that they do not know the context.
 
Xisca Nicolas
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Matthew thanks for coming back!
The point of autism is interesting because it is also called neuro DIVERSITY. And in the end do we take diversity into consideration that much?
Not enough.

Talking about words and meaning, I am forced to accept the words "mental health" though not appropriate because mental is more about thoughts, and it doesn't cover the ANS.

Due to many factors, some people have more in common than others. Also we are no more formated by small groups as before. As a result, we surprise each other too much. Also, due to neglecting the ANS or Autonomic Nervous System,  though it drives all other systems, we often fail to believe what others say about themselves, what they can and cannot do.

If you say you cannot lift a certain weight or have a weak arm due to an accident to the bone or  muscle system, you will be believed. And people will be happy to help!

Now if you cannot do something and mention a real blockage, it looks invisible enough for people to not believe you cannot do what they can! Not only you get no help but you can be shamed and at least told to "make an effort".
But it hurts as much as damaging muscles. You go over-threashold.

Yes it is a major cause of bad communication. Also unfortunately people can fake more easily in this field.

I have seen people with high chemical sensitivity who were said "she is crazy" by a neighbour... This woman could not believe I believed her symptoms!

About the autistic spectrum, and Asperger's being a "soft side",  the important is to mention people on this spectrum are so different that they migh not even recognize another Asperger's.

The common point seems to be the vagus nerve that has been hurt, especially the social engagement system. Also as said in the book the GAP's diet, the digestive system also often suffers, and it is indeed linked to the vagus too!

So there will be some common point with people having some sort of PTSD and even occasionally with anyone who has accumulated upsetting events during the same day or week etc!
In the end, this spectrum  can teach us to believe more about some incredible differences we can have!

Believe people and excuse yourself from any spontaneous reaction by sharing your emotion of surprise, cool down and take the path of curiosity.

Matt, I hope you will get interested in more about the vagus, diversity and the polyvaga theory! It needs to be known more!
Thanks!
 
Xisca Nicolas
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Typing on my phone, so sorry for some un-elegance of phrasing and sometimes being short which can feel abrupt....
;) part of the topic?
 
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Matthew,

I assume this diagram is an outgrowth of the Five Factor Model. The fascinating thing to me is that a functioning social network of more than a handful of people will benefit from people all over the spectrum, but we tend (in my social circle anyway) to see certain traits as better. It is totally subconscious, as can be seen in the statement you made

And finally yes, it is extremely important to approach an issue with curiosity rather than certainty

. As you can see those traits are on opposite sides of the openness axis. But there are times where certainty is a desirable trait. I would recommend avoiding surgeons high in openness. Mechanics probably are not strong in openness.

Society needs both, and it benefits from people who are not as polar to help them interpret data and maybe reach a consensus. Just one of those paradoxes of social psychology that makes it so interesting!
 
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Tj Jefferson wrote:Matthew,

I assume this diagram is an outgrowth of the Five Factor Model. The fascinating thing to me is that a functioning social network of more than a handful of people will benefit from people all over the spectrum, but we tend (in my social circle anyway) to see certain traits as better. It is totally subconscious, as can be seen in the statement you made

And finally yes, it is extremely important to approach an issue with curiosity rather than certainty

. As you can see those traits are on opposite sides of the openness axis. But there are times where certainty is a desirable trait. I would recommend avoiding surgeons high in openness. Mechanics probably are not strong in openness.

Society needs both, and it benefits from people who are not as polar to help them interpret data and maybe reach a consensus. Just one of those paradoxes of social psychology that makes it so interesting!



Hi TJ,
If you're interested in the research informing the diagram see: https://scholarworks.gvsu.edu/orpc/vol2/iss1/11/

Thanks for raising the idea that one area of focus isn't necessarily "better" than the other in the diagram. I think I was trying to imply that with what I was saying about seeking to understand where other folks may be coming from and to appreciating their values too, but I didn't make the point explicitly and it's an important one.

What I touched on in one my posts is that as much as we might like to think we have just one fixed way of being in the world that's always rational and consistent, actually all of us have some amount of each of these values, we're motivated in different ways depending on the situation, and if we're focusing on one area, such as how it's good to be open minded, that will inhibit our focus on another, such as how it's important to follow tradition. None of us is purely and consistently one way or another. We're each full of contradictions. And yes, at a societal level those play out in fascinating ways too, as you're describing.

In the book I argue in many cases how balance can be beneficial and that each of us have our own biases which can be balanced out by engaging with folks whose perspectives are different from our own. In some cases that may be more useful than in others.

My statement "And finally yes, it is extremely important to approach an issue with curiosity rather than certainty" was made in a particular context, which was in agreement with Meg's comment "I think it's really important to take the time to understand an issue before you start engaging with someone with a different viewpoint" in the case of people criticizing her gardening practices without understanding them, which itself was in response to Kenneth's question "What are people’s thoughts about taking time/making the effort to educate themselves about an issue in order to have a conversation across a divide?"

I don't think your examples (surgeons and mechanics) are quite the same as what we were talking about. It is very true that in some cases like those, narrow technical expertise and a high feeling of certainty can be more beneficial than being too open to other distracting or conflicting ideas, techniques, etc. (One would still hope that somewhere along the line there was someone with some genuine curiosity who helped to develop and test those techniques though. Some surgeries to shoulders, for instance, have been studied against placebo surgeries (making the incision and then just stitching the person back up again) and found to have no additional medical benefit.)

The point I was trying to make, though, is that in the context of disagreements with people about an issue like what to do with one's garden, curiosity, which is not the same thing as agreeing with the other person, but rather is simply about trying to genuinely listen and understand why they believe what they do, what values underpin that belief, what experiences led them to it, etc. is very beneficial. Curiosity is “associated with less defensive reactions to stress and less aggressive reactions to provocation” among its many other benefits: https://hbr.org/2018/09/curiosity.

 
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