Building Consensus - Chat
Communication Strategies for Building Consensus - Chat
This Wednesday evening Oct. 20, Dr. Michael Edelstein (see bio below) will be leading a discussion on Communication Strategies for Building Consensus. The workshop will be held at chat.freestateproject.org at 9pm ET. Hope to see you there!
Dr. Michael R. Edelstein is in private practice in San Francisco and is the co-author, with Dr. David Ramsay Steele, of Three Minute Therapy: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life, a self-help book for overcoming common emotional and behavioral problems. The book has been chosen as a selection by the Book-of-the-Month Club and by the Behavioral Sciences Book Club, and also as a featured alternate selection.by Laissez-Faire Books. Michael was awarded "Author of the Year" for the book by the National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists.
Michael lectures nationally and internationally, appears on radio and television, and is published in psychological journals. He is the creator of a five-step audiotape weight-management program, and has produced tapes used for training psychotherapists. He writes the advice column, "Ask Dr.Mike," which appears in the San Francisco Intelligencer.
He is a Training Supervisor and Fellow of the Albert Ellis Institute and holds a diploma in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. He is Past President of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy. He frequently speaks to libertarian groups, having given presentations at Laissez Faire Books, ISIL, the Separation of School & State Alliance, Eris, Free Exchange, and the California LP annual conventions. His topic at LPCCon2004 was "Overcoming Emotional Blocks to Success as a Libertarian."
He is currently writing two books, The Revolution In Psychotherapy (Open Court Publishing) and Three Minute Therapy for Stage Fright (See Sharp Press).
Here is Dr. Edelstein's website.
Here's a transcript of the chat that took place:
21:03:41 [katdillon] Tonight, Dr. Michael Edelstein has generously consented to give a talk on Communication Technques for Building Consenses
21:04:31 [katdillon] I'll turn it over to Michael
21:04:50 [MiclEdlstn] Welcome, everyone!
21:04:58 [MiclEdlstn] First, I'd like to review 18 useful communication principles.
21:05:25 [MiclEdlstn] ...one at a time, so we can discuss each.
21:05:42 [MiclEdlstn] They're particularly appropriate...
21:06:17 [MiclEdlstn] for avoiding and diffusing contentious discussions in FSP chats...
21:06:33 [MiclEdlstn] and on the Message Board....
21:07:02 [MiclEdlstn] and for no extra charge, they'll help you improve your marriage!
21:07:20 [MiclEdlstn] Then, we'll discuss...
21:07:41 [MiclEdlstn] specific communication problems...
21:08:00 [MiclEdlstn] you've faced you wish suggestions on.
21:08:19 [MiclEdlstn] As an experiment...
21:08:45 [MiclEdlstn] I'd like to structure the discussion...
21:09:00 [MiclEdlstn] more like a face-to-face talk...
21:09:10 [MiclEdlstn] and see how this works...
21:09:26 [MiclEdlstn] Should you have a question or comment...
21:09:39 [MiclEdlstn] please raise your hand, like this...
21:09:58 [MiclEdlstn] *Raises hand*...
21:10:11 [MiclEdlstn] or *rh*...
21:10:22 [MiclEdlstn] or simply ^
21:10:37 [MiclEdlstn] (that a hand waving in the air)
21:10:52 [MiclEdlstn] I'll call on you. Thanks.
21:11:15 [MiclEdlstn] Any q's before we start with the first principle?
21:11:50 [MiclEdlstn] Kat, would you display #1, please?
21:12:07 [katdillon] hopefully this works right...
21:12:46 [katdillon] 1. Assume responsibility for your role in a dialogue. Do what _you_ can to improve the process. (As good as it may feel for the moment, resentfully criticizing others for communication breakdowns doesn't help and often accelerates a downward spiral.)
21:12:51 [MiclEdlstn] :-)
21:12:59 [katdillon] (sorry, next one's wont be so slow)
21:13:44 [MiclEdlstn] People tend to assume less power than they have in creating good communication.
21:14:03 [MiclEdlstn] However, if you lay the groundwork...
21:14:11 [MiclEdlstn] as we'll be discussing...
21:14:44 [MiclEdlstn] you will have much power in making communication go well, even with the most difficult customers.
21:15:10 [MiclEdlstn] Qs?
21:15:37 [MiclEdlstn] #2 please, Kat.
21:16:08 [katdillon] 2. Bring up and then address one issue at a time.
21:16:24 [MiclEdlstn] When an interaction gets heated...
21:16:48 [MiclEdlstn] people sometimes recite a history of grievances against the other person.
21:17:06 [MiclEdlstn] It's best to address one issue at a time.
21:17:09 [slye15] ^
21:17:25 [MiclEdlstn] Yes, slye
21:17:35 [slye15] any suggestions for how to remember all the points that they mention while only discussing one at a time?
21:17:44 [MiclEdlstn] Yes,
21:17:54 [MiclEdlstn] suggest starting with one...
21:18:14 [MiclEdlstn] this way the onus is not on you to remember the others.
21:18:32 [slye15] kind of slow them down and ask they stop once they have goten to point one
21:18:44 [MiclEdlstn] When you both agree the first issue had been adaquately covered...
21:18:53 [MiclEdlstn] then ask for the second.
21:19:03 [MiclEdlstn] Exactly.
21:19:20 [MiclEdlstn] Slowing things down, incidentally...
21:19:20 [slye15] alright
21:19:36 [MiclEdlstn] tends to diffuse attack and counterattack.
21:20:12 [MiclEdlstn] Ok, #3.
21:20:27 [katdillon] 3. Remain positive and give the other person the benefit of the doubt. For example, if you suspect they may be using a sarcastic tone, assume the best.
21:20:52 [MiclEdlstn] Especially in internet exchanges...
21:21:09 [MiclEdlstn] it's easy to read a negative tone into a communication.
21:21:32 [MiclEdlstn] Try to be aware of this proclivity...
21:21:48 [MiclEdlstn] and bend over backwards to do the opposite.
21:22:16 [MiclEdlstn] Even if it is meant negatively...
21:22:33 [MiclEdlstn] if you continue in a positive vein...
21:22:52 [MiclEdlstn] your correspondant will tend to drop the negativity.
21:23:26 [MiclEdlstn] Let's go to #4, Kat.
21:23:49 [katdillon] 4. Respond only to the constructive content of a message. Ignore, when possible, sarcasm, innuendo, name-calling, etc. (It's usually possible). This helps avoid escalation.
21:24:10 [MiclEdlstn] Sometimes this involves being a detective.
21:24:44 [MiclEdlstn] Try to discern the useful content...
21:25:13 [MiclEdlstn] and ignore what's useless, sarcastic, irrelevant, etc.
21:25:45 [MiclEdlstn] Ok, on to #5.
21:26:00 [katdillon] 5. Avoid accusations, especially overgeneralized ones, such as: "You never...", You always...", "Why can't you...?", "I can't believe you said that," etc.
21:26:24 [MiclEdlstn] Even if you're feeling disgusted with what you hear...
21:26:42 [MiclEdlstn] you don't have to show it by attacking the other person.
21:26:50 [MiclEdlstn] To avoid this...
21:27:06 [MiclEdlstn] watch your language...
21:27:32 [MiclEdlstn] Again, speak to the specific issue...
21:27:44 [MiclEdlstn] rather than attacking the other's character.
21:28:21 [MiclEdlstn] BTW, these suggestions may sound deceptively simple.
21:28:30 [katdillon] ^
21:28:43 [MiclEdlstn] However, they're often not so easy to implement. Kat.
21:29:27 [MiclEdlstn] Were you just stretching?
21:29:28 [katdillon] Say you're in a disagreement with someone. How do you avoid the temptation to send a really good zinger to make your point? Any suggestions?
21:29:48 [MiclEdlstn] Yes.
21:30:05 [MiclEdlstn] Remind yourself of your ultimate goal.
21:30:06 [katdillon] Sometimes I find it irristable, especially if it's a funny one
21:30:11 [MiclEdlstn] To be understood...
21:30:19 [MiclEdlstn] or to reach an agreement.
21:30:35 [MiclEdlstn] Zingers tend to sabotage these goals...
21:30:48 [MiclEdlstn] so in the long-run you lose out.
21:31:10 [MiclEdlstn] Focus on your basic goal...
21:31:27 [MiclEdlstn] and sacrifice the fleeting pleasure the zinger may give you.
21:31:38 [katdillon] hard to do!
21:31:52 [JohnM] But will the other person think it's funny. That would be important, I'd think.
21:31:53 [MiclEdlstn] It's a pyrhic victory (sp?)
21:32:25 [MiclEdlstn] Yes, it's hard to do. The more you practice the better you get at it.
21:32:48 [MiclEdlstn] JohnM...I didn't see your hand, yet I suspect you have a question.
21:33:04 [katdillon] as my ole dad always says, I can resist anything but temptation
21:33:22 [JohnM] No question. Just commenting on Kat's point.
21:33:26 [MiclEdlstn] Humor is difficult to execute in this format....
21:33:37 [MiclEdlstn] it means knowing your audience...
21:33:54 [MiclEdlstn] You can also send out a test balloon...
21:34:04 [MiclEdlstn] Try one attempt at humor...
21:34:25 [MiclEdlstn] if your correspondant takes it poorly, that tells you something.
21:34:57 [MiclEdlstn] JohnM, does that answer your q?
21:35:05 FTL_Ian enters this room
21:35:41 [FTL_Ian] hallo everybody
21:36:02 [MiclEdlstn] Hi FTL. Welcome.
21:36:05 [katdillon] Hello Ian
21:36:39 [MiclEdlstn] Let's go on to #6.
21:36:51 [katdillon] 6. Say "Please," "Thank you," "I apologize," "Great idea!," etc., generously. These words are the lubricants of communication-- especially "I apologize." ;-)
21:37:15 [MiclEdlstn] This is always good to practice with an IRS agent.
21:38:04 [MiclEdlstn] These words are easy to remember and you can't use them too often.
21:38:37 [MiclEdlstn] # 7, please.
21:38:48 [katdillon] 7. Before criticizing a position, consider feeding it back to the person advancing it, to confirm you've understood it.
21:39:00 [MiclEdlstn] Thank you.
21:39:34 [MiclEdlstn] Especially when communication seems to be frustrating with someone...
21:39:37 [katdillon] Great idea!
21:40:01 [MiclEdlstn] this helps more to break thru some of the morass.
21:40:05 [FTL_Ian] #7 is very good... it shows the person you are listening, as well
21:41:12 [MiclEdlstn] To demonstrate, would someone like to feed back #7, as you understand it?
21:41:41 [katdillon] restate the person's position by telling it back to them in your own words
21:41:51 [slye15] So what your saying is I should rephase the question to them in my own words and see if they agree?
21:41:53 [MiclEdlstn] Exactly!
21:42:27 [MiclEdlstn] And then ask: "is that what you're saying?"
21:43:12 [MiclEdlstn] Don't just say: "I understand."
21:43:13 [DadaOrwell] hey ian!
21:43:27 [MiclEdlstn] Then you think you understand...
21:43:38 [MiclEdlstn] he thinks you understand..
21:43:52 [MiclEdlstn] but you may both misunderstand.
21:43:56 [FTL_Ian] DadaOrwell> hello
21:44:35 [MiclEdlstn] Next, please, Kat.
21:44:42 [katdillon] 8. Do not label the individual you're speaking with, e.g., "You're a troll," "You're intolerant," " ...disrespectful," "...oblivious," "...obnoxious," etc. This rarely helps and often makes matters worse. Similarly, calling their arguments stupid, destructive, "I can't believe you said that," etc.
21:44:44 [MiclEdlstn] #8.
21:45:19 [MiclEdlstn] This does little to advance the discussion.
21:45:46 [MiclEdlstn] If your looking for a fight, tho, it's great stuff.
21:46:21 [MiclEdlstn] Ok, #9.
21:47:10 [katdillon]>[russellk] had to close yahoo
21:47:13 [katdillon] 9. Keep in mind that "agreeing to disagree" is usually a fine option when stuck in a communication rut. There's often no
21:47:26 [katdillon] right or wrong in our disagreements. Differing opinions may rest on different styles, proclivities, or comfort levels.
21:47:41 [MiclEdlstn] Well said!
21:48:07 [katdillon] Thanks!
21:48:11 [MiclEdlstn] I've seen on many occasions, arguing about the best strategy for freedom...
21:48:29 [MiclEdlstn] when only time will tell what works and what doesn't.
21:48:41 [MiclEdlstn] So if you're a gradualist...
21:48:49 [MiclEdlstn] use gradualist strategies.
21:48:58 [MiclEdlstn] And if you're an abolitionist...
21:49:11 [MiclEdlstn] use abolitionist strategies.
21:49:24 [MiclEdlstn] There's no reason you have to convince the other...
21:49:34 [DadaOrwell] kats computer crashed
21:49:39 [MiclEdlstn] you're 101% right..
21:49:49 [DadaOrwell] she'll be back in about 4 min
21:49:50 [MiclEdlstn] and he's 101% wrong.
21:50:08 [MiclEdlstn] Thanks, Dada.
21:50:49 [MiclEdlstn] Any qs about "agreeing to disagree?"
21:51:19 [MiclEdlstn] #10: If you wish someone to communicate more constructively....
21:51:39 [MiclEdlstn] offer a specific suggestion and begin i twith...
21:51:52 [MiclEdlstn] "I prefer..." For example...
21:52:15 [MiclEdlstn] "I prefer you not call me intolerant. Rather,
21:52:41 [MiclEdlstn] please cite specifically what I said you disagree with."
21:52:54 [MiclEdlstn] (Alternatively, trying to prove...
21:53:01 [MiclEdlstn] you're not intolerant...
21:53:24 [MiclEdlstn] or even launcing a counterattack, rarely is constructive.)
21:53:47 [slye15] ^
21:53:51 [katdillon] (I'm back)
21:54:10 [slye15] Might that make them think your totally dismissing their point without considering it
21:54:12 [MiclEdlstn] Great! We're up to #11.
21:55:03 [katdillon] 11. If you feel the process is breaking down, discuss this with the other person. Collaboratively work to improve it by focusing on future behavioral change, rather than by assigning blame for past communication difficulties.
21:55:20 [MiclEdlstn] The past is dead and gone and can't be resurrected. So focus on future change.
21:55:56 [MiclEdlstn] Okay, #12.
21:56:12 [katdillon] 12. State negative feelings in a positive way by stating the other's best self, e.g., "I know you're a tolerant person," or "You often have excellent ideas." Then let them know you feel they're not living up to their usual high standard.
21:56:43 [MiclEdlstn] People love praise and tend to dislike criticism.
21:57:10 [MiclEdlstn] Here you sneakily use praise to criticize. :-)
21:57:37 [MiclEdlstn] Let's go to #13.
21:57:57 [katdillon] 13. If you're communicating by computer, consider moving to the telephone should communication get stalled.
21:58:17 [MiclEdlstn] This would take much of the guesswork out of reading the other person's tone of voice.
21:58:42 [MiclEdlstn] #14, please.
21:58:55 [katdillon] 14. Give positive feedback, praise, appreciation, "atta boys" wherever possible.
21:59:12 [katdillon] You're doing a great job, btw, Michael
21:59:20 [MiclEdlstn] Can't emphasize this enough!
21:59:36 [MiclEdlstn] Thanks, Kat. And, of course, so are you.
21:59:54 [MiclEdlstn] You're a fast learner, BTW.
22:00:05 [MiclEdlstn] Let's try #15.
22:00:24 [katdillon] 15. Preface constructive criticism with positive feedback.
22:00:49 [MiclEdlstn] With a little thought, you usually can think of something positive to say.
22:01:11 [MiclEdlstn] For example, it's great you're with the FSP. We need you!
22:01:25 [MiclEdlstn] 16, Kat.
22:01:38 [katdillon] 16. If disengaging is a viable option with someone who seems generally angry and negativistic, politely end the dialogue. Alternatively, consider suggesting ending it for continuation at a future date, when one (or both of you) will have had a chance to collect your thoughts and calm down.
22:02:15 [MiclEdlstn] There's no reason you must continue a destructive interaction.
22:02:27 [MiclEdlstn] It's useful to recognize when to cut and run.
22:02:55 [MiclEdlstn] Two more left. #17?
22:03:09 [katdillon] 17. Keep in mind that everyone is a free agent with free will, consequently you can't force anyone to understand or agree with you, no matter how self-evident your view seems to you.
22:03:40 [MiclEdlstn] It's easy to think you can bully someone into your position...
22:03:48 [MiclEdlstn] with powerful rhetoric...
22:03:59 [MiclEdlstn] or cutting sarcasm.
22:04:12 [MiclEdlstn] Sadly, this usually doesn't work.
22:04:29 [MiclEdlstn] Often the more you push, the more you get pushed back.
22:04:52 [MiclEdlstn] It's an art to gracefully accept disagreement.
22:05:22 [MiclEdlstn] Ok, our last communication principle:
22:05:33 [katdillon] 18. Remind others--and yourself--of our common goal: to build a free society. Consequently, collaboration, rather than one-upmanship, is essential.
22:06:03 [MiclEdlstn] Ok, what communication problems have you had...
22:06:22 [MiclEdlstn] or have you witnessed, that you wish to discuss or ask about?
22:06:38 [MiclEdlstn] Remember to 6.
22:06:53 [MiclEdlstn] That's ^, I meant to say.
22:07:43 [slye15] ^
22:07:49 [MiclEdlstn] Slye
22:08:36 [slye15] Great suggstions, so far. How do you deal with a person that will continuely try to steer the conversation to details when the main point they can't defend?
22:09:16 [MiclEdlstn] You can try: "I'd love to discuss those other points later...
22:09:33 [MiclEdlstn] but first let's reach agreement on this one.
22:09:46 [MiclEdlstn] Would that be ok with you?"
22:10:13 [MiclEdlstn] (In proposing something like this, try to get the other's..
22:10:18 [slye15] makes sense
22:10:27 [MiclEdlstn] explicit agreement by asking for it.)
22:10:29 [slye15] oen thing at a time is what I need to learn
22:10:50 [MiclEdlstn] Simple, but not easy.
22:11:31 [katdillon] ^
22:11:31 [MiclEdlstn] If you find yourself in the midst of a communication spiral...
22:11:54 [MiclEdlstn] it's never to late to suggest going back to square one...
22:12:11 [MiclEdlstn] and starting again with one issue this time.
22:12:33 [MiclEdlstn] Would anyone like to add techniques you've found helpful?
22:13:44 [MiclEdlstn] Any final questions, comments, or discussion?
22:13:53 [katdillon] yes
22:13:59 [FTL_Ian] Where did the list come from?
22:14:00 [MiclEdlstn] Ok, Kat.
22:14:13 [slye15] Thanks, excellent suggestions/guide lines
22:14:29 [katdillon] Let's say you've got a decision to be made, and you and the other party need to come to an agreement
22:14:31 [MiclEdlstn] You're welcome.
22:14:39 [MiclEdlstn] Kat, did you have a q?
22:14:47 [katdillon] but find yourselves totally deadlocked on opposite sides of the fence
22:14:58 [katdillon] Any suggestions for breaking the deadlock?
22:15:06 [MiclEdlstn] There are many ways...
22:15:33 [katdillon] when agree to disagree isn't really an option
22:15:33 [MiclEdlstn] one is to agree on a third party to referee or arbitrate.
22:15:51 [MiclEdlstn] Another is to take turns:
22:16:17 [MiclEdlstn] "This time we go with your idea, if next time I have priority."
22:16:53 [MiclEdlstn] A third is bribery: "I'll give you $100 to agree."
22:17:02 [katdillon] lol
22:17:04 [slye15] ha
22:17:05 [MiclEdlstn] Hey, we're capitalists, right?
22:17:26 [katdillon] Certainly!
22:17:44 [MiclEdlstn] You can also find a third idea that neither of you are thrilled about...
22:17:54 [MiclEdlstn] but are willing to embrace as a compromise.
22:18:10 [katdillon] (Ian, I believe Michael wrote up this list)
22:18:51 [MiclEdlstn] It came from my 30 years experience working with couples and businesses in negotiating consensus.
22:19:16 [katdillon] Good ideas, thanks Michael
22:19:29 [MiclEdlstn] Working thru problems in my own marriage also gave me practice.
22:19:34 [PhilD] Yes, thank you
22:20:08 [MiclEdlstn] For this I thank my wife, Janice, who refuses to take my back talk.
22:20:39 [JohnM] LOL
22:20:49 [MiclEdlstn] You're welcome, Phil, Kat.
22:21:23 [MiclEdlstn] If you have qs that come up in the future--real incidents--feel free to ask me.
22:21:37 [MiclEdlstn] I'm always happy to help Free Staters.
22:21:53 [katdillon] That's great! Thanks
22:22:17 [JohnM] Yes, thank you, Michael. Those are all good suggestions.
22:22:26 [MiclEdlstn] Also, if you wish to join Kat and me in forming a group that helps put out flaming wars on the Message Board...
22:22:39 [katdillon] how can people reach you if they have questions, Michael>
22:22:54 [MiclEdlstn] please send me an email: DrEdelstein@ThreeMinuteTherapy.com
22:23:05 [MiclEdlstn] or 415-673-2848,
22:23:28 [MiclEdlstn] I believe Kat will be posting...
22:23:46 [MiclEdlstn] all 18 principles somewhere on the website.
22:23:53 [MiclEdlstn] Is that right?
22:24:27 [katdillon] Yes, several places if I can
22:24:30 [slye15] I also saved them if anyone wants a quick run down of them
22:24:42 [katdillon] on the forum and freestateproject.org/training
22:24:54 [MiclEdlstn] Great!
22:25:06 [PhilD] That should help us have more and less
22:25:06 [katdillon] along with the transcript of tonight's chat
22:25:34 [MiclEdlstn] Thank you Kat for coordinating these chats. You provided a great service.
22:26:00 [katdillon] Oh, it's been my pleasure. You're quite welcome
22:26:31 [MiclEdlstn] Phil, I'll bet posting smiley faces is a great strategy to assist good communication.
22:27:15 [MiclEdlstn] Good night, everybody. Thanks for attending and being such a good audience.
22:27:38 [katdillon] Thank you again, Michael for taking the time to do this.
22:27:58 [JohnM] Good evening, everyone. Thanks, Michael. Thanks, Kat.
22:27:59 [PatK] Thank you
22:28:07 [DadaOrwell] nite all!
22:28:13 JohnM exits from this room
22:28:22 [PhilD] Thanks Michael and Kat - May flights of angels...and all that
22:29:36 [katdillon] Good night all! Hope to see you next week for Phil's Speaker's workshop
Note: The above strategies are also conveniently listed at Communication Strategies For Building Consensus.