Two ways to argue more effectively with a political opponent

It's very difficult to change someone's mind on a political issue. Facts rarely work, because the person you are arguing with has likely already been told the facts and has already formed reasons to dismiss the facts. But there are two science-back ways to argue, according to this Vox article by Brian Resnick, that will give you a better change of nudging someone, ever-so-slightly, in the direction you wish them to go.

Strategy 1: "If the argument you find convincing doesn’t resonate with someone else, find out what does."

Here’s an example. If you’re trying to convince a conservative of the merits of kneeling for the national anthem in protest, emphasize the traditional values around political and religious freedom. Willer suggests, “arguing that the founding fathers were deeply concerned with protecting our rights to social protest.”

Strategy 2: "Listen. Your ideological opponents want to feel like they’ve been heard."

In 2016, the journal Science published a remarkable bit of insight: It's possible to reduce prejudice, and sway opinions on anti-transgender legislation, with one 10-minute conversation. What's more, the researchers found that the change of heart can last at least three months and is resistant to anti-transgender attack ads.

It worked because the canvassers in the study did a simple thing: they listened... In talking about their own lives, the voters engage in what psychologists call "active processing." The idea is that people learn lessons more durably when they come to the conclusion themselves, not when someone "bitch-slaps you with a statistic," says Fleischer.

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How “deep canvassing” works to change people's minds on issues

How do you change someone's mind on contentious issues like gun control, Obamacare, and military spending? It's not easy, but it is possible to slightly shift people's political attitudes. You must use arguments that resonate with the person you are trying to convince, use their morals against them, and listen to them.

Above, a real-life example of "deep-canvassing" by the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

From Vox:

In the video above, notice how the voter starts to come around on the issue when the canvasser asks if she's ever been on the receiving end of discrimination. She talks about being picked on at work and feeling different. He responds by telling his own story of being discriminated against for being gay. It's a real heart to heart between strangers.

And in that moment, the canvasser points out that a transgender nondiscrimination law would help people who feel discriminated against at school or work.

"Oh, okay, that makes a lot of sense," she says.

This technique has only been proven to work with identity issues, like transgender rights. It’s hard to say how to adapt it for talking a relative out of their support for gun control.

But the main message of the strategy couldn’t hurt to try: Listen to people, get them to think about their own experience, and highlight your common humanity.

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