Having trouble with canvassing, political conversations on Facebook, in the pub or even round the dinner table at home? This could be just what you need…There’s an audio link (no good for me, too deaf!) and a transcript to a fantastic conversation that all political activists should give their attention to. It’s an interview by Love + Radio with Daryl Davis, who you could say has some of the trickiest conversations of all, as he’s a black American guy who befriends KKK people. Yes, that’s right, the Klan. Along the way, this interview answers so many of the questions about how to have good conversations (as opposed to fights) with people.

There’s also a transcript, but as a lot of people find reading long texts as difficult as I find listening to interviews, here’s a quickie summary.

If you’re talking to someone, hoping to persuade them of a political point, these are the things to consider…

Stuff to do

1. Understand their position

That means either doing your homework before you meet them or, if you don’t have warning of the encounter, asking questions and listening before spouting your opinion.

2. Conversation is better than debate

Debate is: you stand on your ground, I stand on mine and we play for points. It’s not a good way of making friends. Conversation is sharing and comparing ideas and information.

3. Look for points you agree on

Conversation can develop from there. There are probably more points of agreement than you think, even with your worst enemy. We’ve all got the same basic needs and feelings.

4. Keep talking

Amazingly, I find I can quote Margaret Thatcher here – me agreeing with something Thatcher said! What a fab example for point 3 above! “Jaw jaw jaw is better than war, war war.”

5. Study patience

“while you are actively learning about someone else, you are passively teaching them about yourself” – so just standing there listening may be hard work but you should get the hang of it because it is building a relationship.

Stuff not to do

1. Don’t meet incorrect “facts” with abuse or denials

If someone tells you something that’s not true, it’s tempting to get shrill or insulting. Keep calm, present your evidence to the contrary, or ask them for their evidence.

2. Don’t explain people – or their movements – to them

Let them do it. Then quote them, question what they say. Don’t *tell* them what they say.

3. Don’t confuse ignorance with stupidity

Ignorant people can learn more easily, if given information.

I’m not sure about that last one – speaking as a former teacher-trainer, it’s just that it’s easier for some than for others to find the keys to learning. But there’s lots and lots of examples and think-food on that very topic if you read (or listen) to the whole interview, and they are answers to those situations where you think “I am just never going to get anywhere with this……… person.” Here’s the link…

The Love + Radio interview

And some more Daryl Davis stuff…

KKK members leave clan after befriending black musician – Al Jazeera article