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Watching the current state of political discourse, I’m reminded of a time when I, as a student debater, was in the library cramming to prep for my next debate. My debate coach stopped by and, picking up on my state of panic, suggested that when you are short of time, you should prioritize researching your opponent’s position. 

That was a good lesson lo those many years ago that still holds true today. 

Most of our professional (and often personal) communications are attempts to persuade: buy my product, fund my project, give me more resources, etc. If you want to persuade someone of something, it helps to know where they are coming from.

It’s difficult to move someone’s opinion if you don’t first acknowledge the validity of their point of view. But all too often (particularly in DC it seems) people are rushed, aggravated and frustrated and give in to the urge to start every conversation with the phrase, ‘Jane, you ignorant slut’, or the equivalent. 

 So here is a friendly reminder that when you want to convince someone to do something, start out by listening to their point of view, their hopes and dreams or even fears – or researching it if you have to. It will make your discourse more civil while at the same time increasing your odds of successfully making your point.