Below are a number of core principles I’d like to suggest and hope to adhere to. It is by no means all inclusive. I will very likely adjust it over time.
- Civil discourse – Focus on the topic (not the participants). Work toward understanding, and where applicable, solving a problem.
- Rational dialog – Attempt to use reason and logic to make and support points.
- Responding over Reacting – We have the ability to pause and ponder before responding.
- Facts over fervor – Hopefully, making an effort to support an idea with something more than passion for a point of view. Supplying data and/or references lends credence to an argument.
- Substance over style – A position well crafted may be less valid than a point poorly delivered. Yet, a point well delivered is not automatically suspect. Emphasis on discernment.
- Definition over defense – Bracketing folks who spend time attacking others and defending their current position without actually defining what their own position is.
- Avoid piling on – Throwing in other content, usually hinders work toward a current topic. Try to stick to the subject at hand and agree to park tangents for a subsequent dialog.
- Confrontation does not equal condemnation – Tough-on-the-issue and soft-on-the-person is valid and reasonable. The opposite is counterproductive. People would be well served to learn the difference and practice it.
- Try to consider the other’s perspective – Sometimes tough. Doubly beneficial in that it can “humanize” your opponent, and it expands your perspective – even if you disagree.
- Shades of gray – Situations and issues are not often binary, clear-cut, or black-and-white. Expect shades of gray. Don’t just expect it – embrace it.
Common to all of these, is a need for effort, on our own part, to exercise more than our reflexes.