Part of being a Natural Born Rebel is having hard conversations.
Hard conversations about hot topics with people who don’t agree with you. Talk about a trifecta of disaster. We watch this go down in the halls of Twitter all the time — screaming, yelling, trolling, and throwing around memes as though we were dueling with swords.
It all ends the same. People become more rooted in their cause, not listening to anything the opposition has to say, because clearly they are unhinged, uneducated, short sighted people who must live in a cave…or an adorable flat downtown. When it’s all done, everyone goes back to their corners, licks their wounds, finding comfort in those who agree with them, and preparing for the next round. Even your elected officials, the ones who are making rules, laws, and funding the things that matter.
This vicious cycle isn’t working.
We have to start talking to each other. And you are going to have to go first. You have to invite yourself to the table, because no one is saving you a seat. It is up to you to initiate it, to find the common ground you both stand on and start there. Talk about your common love for labradoodles before you talk about reproductive rights. Invite yourself into their world on that piece of common ground. Conversations over coffee will do more for your cause than most other things.
Here are a few steps you can take to kick start the relationship.
- Do your research. Figure out where you have common ground. Social media makes this bit of research easy, take a look at their account — looking past all the groups, pages, and people that make you seethe, you already know about those. Look for commonality in sports teams, colleges, hometowns, book clubs, diet plans, dog breeds…whatever, just find something you like too.
- Go to where they are. Many will tell you to find neutral ground, but I disagree. Go where they are comfortable — comfort furthers the conversation. Let them choose the meeting place.
- If you are meeting with your elected official, have a clear plan for what you want them to hear. A nice chat is good, but you are on a mission.
- Go in prepared. Silence your phone (having your fuck the police ringtone go off while meeting with the chief will not help your cause), keep your notebook and laptop stowed away — this is a casual meeting. Make sure you are hydrated and have eaten. Don’t be shriveled up and hangry.
- Send a handwritten thank you note about a week later. Sincerely thank them for taking the time to meet and ask to meet again.
Chances are you won’t walk out of that meeting to a cataclysmically changed world, but that’s not how change happens anyway.
Change happens one person, one meeting, one cup of coffee at a time.
Let me know how it goes! Share your experience with me by popping over to my Facebook page.
It’s Monday, cause some mayhem!
Dr. Melissa Bird