Category Archives: Skills for talking politics

Open Mic Night in Middleton: Speaking Our Values

Join us on Thursday evening, March 19, 6PM, at the Craftsman Pub in Middleton for Open Mic Night. We’ll be discussing “Speaking Our Values: The Key to Effective Political Speech.” Good music, good food, good beer, and great conversation! Continue reading

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Jeff Smith: The common ground is always there.

Jeff Smith has more experience in political conversation than most of us ever will. He believes that our neighborhood political conversations are better focus groups than those manufactured by political consultants, and that in those informal focus groups we can come to understand why our neighbors believe what they believe and—yes—counteract misinformation. His advice for productive political conversation: Establish trust by listening to find the common ground. Continue reading

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What are they trying to do? Understanding motives in political conversation

When talking politics, it’s useful to be aware of the participants’ motives (both your own and your conversation partner’s). This blog post explores how to identify and respond to the types of motives people often bring to political conversations. Continue reading

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The Inigo Montoya problem: I do not think it means what you think it means.

Main point: Words and phrases have different meanings for different people and as a result, our conversations will suffer if we assume both speaker and listener are thinking of the same thing even when they are using the same word. … Continue reading

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Political conversation in action: Once spoken to, Larry Orr now speaks for peace.

Larry Orr was not born to speak for peace. One of his first, strongest memories is of being a 3-year-old playing in his back yard in Muscatine, Iowa when two P-38 fighters flew over at treetop level.  Their deafening noise … Continue reading

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George Lakoff recommends…

George Lakoff was in Wisconsin for the past few days lecturing at several different events. While I didn’t hear him say anything that wasn’t in at least one of his books and don’t agree with everything he teaches, the question-and-answer … Continue reading

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If you are not a paid pundit, don’t talk like one.

Main point: It’s useful to learn about ‘messaging’ and ‘framing’ for one-way communications like letters to the editor, and so that we know when polished political spin is being used to manipulate us. But speaking in the phrases recommended by … Continue reading

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