As the Presidential election heats up, I’ve noticed myself becoming increasingly drawn into a conversational topic that I try hard to avoid: politics. I highly encourage you to avoid it as well, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. If you do talk politics, make sure that it is out of the office first, and second, make sure to do so in a bipartisan, non-judgmental, non-confrontational way. Specifically, do the following:
Avoid logical fallacies. I don’t care how logical you think you are, unless you’re the kind of person who scores perfect 180s on the LSAT without blinking, you do this as a matter of course. That’s ok (everyone does), so long as you recognize it, apologize, and correct it. Some common logical fallacies that I’ve been hearing a lot lately are:
- The straw man fallacy;
- Ad hominem;
- Composition fallacy; and
- Hasty generalization (this one is the most common fallacy I see among managers).
Avoid second-person pronouns. The person you’re speaking to is more likely to feel defensive if you repeatedly use the words “you” and “your” instead of first and third-person pronouns and passive language, such as “it appears that,” “I understand that,” etc.
Listen first, persuade second. Better yet, if you’re not an expert on the particular topic at hand, just stick to listening and asking questions.
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