“[…] What you have said above [in the pre-requisite note], is quite difficult to do when you’re faced with people who would NOT reciprocate it back. As in…I could see their view as what they FEEL to be true, but they would always believe their truth to be the ONE and ONLY truth. Makes it hard for me to be understanding. […] but I guess that’s pretty selfish of me isn’t it? I should be understanding to BE understanding….it shouldn’t be a bargain ‘I’ll be understanding if you are too’ […]”
so what do you do if you understand that people share experiences, not truths, but the other people don’t? they start the argument, they attack, and they refuse to listen? they shut you out.
my brother and I were discussing relativism. and that’s such a relative topic by itself, that disagreement is inevitable, except if you approach it this way:
my brother said “relativism is this…”
I reply “I think you’re right, because I believe that different people understand realism differently depending on what they know about the subject, which definition they read, from which education and cultural background they come from, etc. what I read and know about relativism gave me my own understanding of it. i feel relativism could be a label, understood differently by different people. i would usually try not to use labels, as they could lead to misunderstandings. instead i prefer to explain the way i see things. to explain my own experience of things. just to prevent these labels from creating misinterpretations. and i believe that sometimes, a big percentage of the population can explain a label in the same way. and for that group, they would have reached a common understanding; and i feel each should explain his understanding of the label, so that they can all agree that they understand it similarly, and also share it with those who have experienced it differently. the way I understand relativism, which I’m sure is different from the way other people understand it, is this…”
notice, my brother started with ‘relativism IS…’ which was my cue. this means that he believes he’s sharing a truth, not his understanding of the label, and that he’s also expecting to hear a truth in return. I could have very simple said: “no! that’s not relativism…” or “yes, but that’s not what it is…”
and instantly that would have created a clash in the mind of my brother. because even thought he expects to hear a truth, by taking the ‘yes-but’ or ‘no’ approach, i would have also supported his unhealthy expectations, and made him believe that he is wrong, that I am right, and that i’m going to lie to him by telling him something that isn’t THE truth. this instantly stops him from listening. this causes his brain to think of ways to fight back and attack, regardless of what I’m going to say next. even if I say ‘yes, but…’ and I just repeat exactly what his definition, he will answer back with ‘you’re wrong…’ and add something meaningless to his own definition.
so let me dissect my first reply to my brother, and explain why I believe it works. and it has proven to really work in 100% of the situations that I used it in; so far. I also have to mention that in most cases only steps 1 through 5 are required. I’ve included 6 through 9 to cover some extreme cases of truth expect-ors, or when you have no idea how the other person will react. use them as you see fit. and never change the order. that’s how I’ve experienced the mind to work, and this is the order that the mind generally responds to. here’s the dissection:
- ‘i think you’re right…’ this drops his defenses, and he’s ready to listen now, because he expects to hear a truth, and you just approved that what you will say will match his archive of truths; he can relax and listen now. notice I didn’t use the word ‘but’. because as a general rule, the way the word ‘but’ is perceived, is that it automatically deletes or negates everything before it. if I say ‘yes, but’, I just cancelled the yes. meaning that I just told my brother that he lied to me, because he told me the WRONG truth.
- ‘[…], because…’ after I told my brother that he’s right, the word ‘because’ creates curiosity. people love to know the ‘why’. they love to understand, and hear someone telling them ‘why’ they are right. this makes them 100% receptive to what you’re going to say next.
- ‘I believe that…’ now that my brother is 100% receptive, I switch his expectations from: ‘he’s going to tell me the REAL reason to why I’m right’ to: ‘he’s going to tell me why HE believes I’m right, which might or might not the true’. and since people love to be right, and I’m telling him why I believe he’s right, his mind will find ways to justify what I’m saying, and convince itself that what I’m saying is true.
- ‘different people understand things differently…’ here I give him the reason why he’s right. I’ve prepared his mind to convince itself that what I’m going to say is true. and this makes him accept that the way he presented relativism might be different from the way I will present it, AND it will not clash with his presentation, because each of us can understand it differently. this also justifies why he’s right. he’s entitled to his own explanation, and for him to remain ‘right’ he was to also allow me to be ‘right’.
- ‘I feel relativism is…’ this goes hand in hand with the expectation I planted in my brother, he expects my interpretation, I gave him something even better: ‘a feeling’. which is something more personal than ‘I think’, and it’s even more justifiable in his head that 2 people can completely feel 2 different things about the same topic.
- ‘[…] i would usually try not to use labels, as they could lead to misunderstandings, and instead…’ after setting up the stage to explain my experience of relativism, there’s one last vital thing I did before I actually shared my experience. I gently diffused his belief that a word has only one definition, and i de-associated the word ‘relativism’ from his definition of the word. I also called it a label. people generally agree that the same object can have many labels, and many objects can have one label. now he’s ready to listen to how ‘i’ label relativism, and he’s totally ok and even expecting it to be different from his label.
- ‘[…] my own experience of things, just to prevent these labels from creating misinterpretations, I believe that…’ here i’ve explicitly told him that I will share an experience, prepared him for one, and explained the consequences to expecting a truth. now it’s also important to keep reminding him that i’m sharing an experience. you can see the keywords that I used throughout my reply to do just that.
- ‘i believe […] a big percentage of the population can explain a label in the same way […] and reach a common understanding; and i feel each should explain his understanding […] so that they can all agree […] and also share it with those who have experienced it differently…’ here, I gave the mind of my brother a justification to this objection that he had: ‘but there are facts, truths, and these have nothing to do with how people perceive them!’ and since he still wants to be right, he will use the explanation that I just fed him to self-diffuse his own objection.
- ‘ […] the way I understand relativism, which I’m sure is different from the way other people understand it, is this…’ finally, I share my experience of the subject. without forgetting to remind him first, that I’m still sharing an experience. and that this experience might be different for every person.
expect to hear an experience and prepare the other to hear an experience every time. now you can. understand the mind. learn the steps, and you’ll be armed with one of the more powerful tools to deal with people who believe their truth is the only truth.
ps. highly related and soon: “but: a double edged sword. how not to cut yourself in the process?”
- I think you’re right because i believe different people understand this in different ways …
- I feel that …
- I believe …
- my own experience is …
- the impression i personally got from what you said is … (instead of: you were mean)
- what you said made me feel … (instead of: you were patronizing)