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Tactful communication


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Corporate bullshit Six ways to say 'No' and mean it Rules of Verbal Self Defense Fighting direct verbal abuse Soft propaganda Seven Typical Corporate Email Errors
Socratic Questions Five Points Verbal Response Test Dealing With Negative Criticism Minimize office gossip Never complain about your boss in office Gabor's checklist
Communication with Corporate Psychopaths Communication with Micromanagers The Art of Positive Criticism Psychopaths in Movies Humor Etc


A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worthwhile.


Tact is a careful consideration of the feelings and values of another so as to create harmonious relationships with a reduced potential for conflict or offense. It is acknowledgement of other person "personal space" and "non-intrusiveness" into it.  Tact is considered to be a virtue.

An example of tact would be relating to someone a potentially embarrassing detail of their appearance or demeanor without causing them distress.

Tact is a form of interpersonal diplomacy, the ability to induce change or communicate hurtful information minimizing offence through the use of consideration, compassion, kindness, and reason. Ideally, a tactful person can tell you something you don't want to hear and you feel thankful for the information,

Synonyms: considerateness, consideration, delicacy, diplomacy, discreetness, finesse, savoir-faire, thoughtfulness.

I believe tact is one of the most important elements of office relations.  The ability to speak or act without offending is necessary for attaining successful relations both in family and in office.

The broader concept is diplomacy. The key idea of diplomacy is the idea of minimization and avoidance of conflict to the extent possible. The idea of conflict prevention recognizes that conflict takes many forms. There is some conflict that is destructive, and there are situations that that are from this point of view hopeless and can never be resolved (for all practical purposes) without a conflict. We also recognize that conflict can be a good thing, that good things can come out of addressing it, and sometimes, NOT addressing it is a bad idea. 

So, we need to distinguish destructive conflict and constructive. Destructive conflict is conflict that has a low probability of being resolved, and is primarily personality or emotion driven, rather than conflict that is issue based. For example, if you and I disagree about how much you should pay me, we disagree on a single issue - pay, or one dimensional conflict.   If however you and I aren't getting along because I don't "like" you, this is a situation with many dimensions and it is more difficult to resolve as other dimensions influence our behavior in this one.  

That also means that we should avoid "escalation of the conflict" -- turning conflict over a single issue turns into emotion based conflict.  The reason is simple. As soon as there are other dimensions of the conflict especially emotion or personality based  based, the conflicts are very difficult to deal with, with a relatively low probability of resolution. It's not impossible, it's unlikely. That's why we use the term destructive conflict; because pursuing the issue makes things worse. Sometimes, one must leave the conflict as it is and make the best of it because pursuing it will make it worse.

We are always going to have issue based disagreements and conflict. Well intentioned people often disagree. But they can do it tactfully.

The idea of tactful communication is easier to understand if we look at the opposite traits. Opposite of tact is abrasiveness and rudeness.  But extreme conformism, submissiveness is also an opposite.

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[Mar 14, 2021] How to have better arguments online by Ian Leslie

Notable quotes:
"... People skilled in the art of disagreement don't just think about their own face; they're highly attuned to the other's face. One of the most powerful social skills is the ability to give ..."
"... People will go to great, even self-destructive lengths to avoid the perception that they are being walked over. ..."
"... This is why giving face is so important. It is in a negotiator's interest for their counterpart to feel as secure as possible. Skilled negotiators are always trying to create the adversary they want. They know that when they're one-up, the smart thing to do is to narrow the gap. ..."
"... When a debate becomes volatile and dysfunctional, it's often because someone in the conversation feels they are not getting the face they deserve. ..."
"... arguments between the two sides quickly become clashes of identity. ..."
"... Our goal should be to detach the disputed opinion or action away from the person's sense of self – to lower the identity stakes. The skilful disagreer finds a way of helping their adversary conclude that they can say or do something different, and still be themselves. ..."
"... That's why, when a difficult work conversation arises, the participants often propose to "take it offline". The phrase used to mean simply an in-person discussion, but it has gained an additional nuance: "Let's take this potentially tough conversation to a place where there is less at stake for our faces." ..."
"... It is amazing how often people commit what you might call the overdog's mistake: when, having achieved a dominant position, they brutally ram their advantage home, wounding the other party's sense of self. By doing so, they might gain some fleeting satisfaction, but they also create the adversary they do not want. ..."
"... In a study of 10 international diplomatic crises, the political scientists William Zartman and Johannes Aurik described how, when stronger countries exert power over weaker countries, the weaker ones accede in the short term but look for ways to retaliate later on. ..."
"... Adapted from Conflicted: Why Arguments Are Tearing Us Apart and How They Can Bring Us Together by Ian Leslie, published by Faber on 18 February and available at ..."
Feb 16, 2021 |

... ... ...
The American anthropologist Edward T Hall introduced a distinction between two types of communication culture: high context and low context. In a low-context culture, communication is explicit and direct. What people say is taken to be an expression of their thoughts and feelings. You don't need to understand the context – who is speaking, in what situation – to understand the message.

A high-context culture is one in which little is said explicitly, and most of the message is implied. The meaning of each message resides not so much in the words themselves, as in the context. Communication is oblique, subtle, ambiguous.


Most of us, wherever we are in the world, are living increasingly low-context lives, as more and more of us flock to cities, do business with strangers and converse over smartphones. Different countries still have different communication cultures, but nearly all of them are subject to the same global vectors of commerce, urbanisation and technology – forces that dissolve tradition, flatten hierarchy and increase the scope for confrontation. It's not at all clear that we are prepared for this.

For most of our existence as a species, humans have operated in high-context mode. Our ancestors lived in settlements and tribes with shared traditions and settled chains of command. Now, we frequently encounter others with values and customs different to our own. At the same time, we are more temperamentally egalitarian than ever. Everywhere you look, there are interactions in which all parties have or demand an equal voice. Everyone expects their opinion to be heard and, increasingly, it can be. In this raucous, irreverent, gloriously diverse world, previously implicit rules about what can and cannot be said are looser and more fluid, sometimes even disappearing. With less context to guide our decisions, the number of things on which "we all agree" is shrinking fast .

Think about what defines low-context culture, at least in its extreme form: endless chatter, frequent argument; everyone telling you what they think, all the time. Remind you of anything? As Ian Macduff, an expert in conflict resolution, puts it, "the world of the internet looks predominantly like a low-context world".

If humans were purely rational entities, we would listen politely to an opposing view before offering a considered response. In reality, disagreement floods our brain with chemical signals that make it hard to focus on the issue at hand. The signals tell us that this is an attack on me . "I disagree with you" becomes "I don't like you". Instead of opening our minds to the other's point of view, we focus on defending ourselves.

Protesters arguing during a rally in the US state of Georgia last August. Photograph: Lynsey Weatherspoon/Getty Images

Animals respond to threat with two basic tactics, first identified by the Harvard biologist Walter Bradford Cannon in 1915: fight or flight. Humans are no different. A disagreement can tempt us to become aggressive and lash out, or it can induce us to back off and swallow our opinions out of a desire to avoid conflict. These atavistic responses still influence our behaviour in today's low-context environments: we either get into hostile and mostly pointless arguments, or do everything we can to avoid arguing at all. Both responses are dysfunctional.

You don't have to look far to see the fight response to disagreement: just open your social media feeds or read the comments section on your favourite website. The internet is reputed to create "echo chambers", in which people only encounter views they already agree with, but the evidence points in precisely the opposite direction. Research tells us that social media users have more diverse news diets than non-users. You are almost bound to encounter opinions that upset you on Twitter; much more so than if your only information source is a daily newspaper. Instead of creating bubbles, the internet is bursting them, generating hostility, fear and anger.

One reason online discourse is so often so furious is because it has been designed to be this way. Studies have shown that content that outrages is more likely to be shared. Users who post angry messages get the status boost of likes and retweets, and the platforms on which those messages are posted gain the attention and engagement that they sell to advertisers. Online platforms therefore have an incentive to push forward the most extreme versions of every argument. Nuance, reflection and mutual understanding are not just casualties of the crossfire, but necessary victims.

But it would be a profound mistake to conclude from all this that we are arguing too much. The hollow outrage we see online is actually evidence of the absence of real, reflective disagreements: fight as a smokescreen for flight.

It's often said that if humanity is to rise to the existential threats it faces, we must put our differences aside. But when we all agree – or pretend to – it becomes harder to make progress. Disagreement is a way of thinking, perhaps the best one we have, critical to the health of any shared enterprise, from marriage to business to democracy. We can use it to turn vague notions into actionable ideas, blind spots into insights, distrust into empathy. Instead of putting our differences aside, we need to put them to work.

To do so, we will have to overcome a widespread discomfort with disagreement. Disagreeing well is hard, and for most of us, stressful. But perhaps if we learn to see it as a skill in its own right, rather than as something that comes naturally, we might become more at ease with it. I believe we have a lot to learn from those who manage adversarial, conflict-ridden situations for a living; people whose job it is to wring information, insight and human connection out of even the most hostile encounter.

A t the 1972 Olympic Games in West Germany, a group of Palestinian terrorists seized 11 Israeli athletes. The terrorists made their demands, the authorities refused them. The Munich police resorted to firepower. Twenty-two people were killed , including all the hostages. In the wake of what became known as the Munich Massacre, law-enforcement agencies around the world realised they had an urgent problem. Officers communicating with hostage-takers in order to avoid or minimise violence had no protocol to follow. Police departments realised that they needed to learn negotiation skills.

Hostage negotiators, who may be specialists or trained officers with other responsibilities, are now deployed in a wide range of situations. The best ones are not just expert in tactics; they understand the importance of what the sociologist Erving Goffman called "face-work". In Goffman's terms, "face" is the public image a person wants to establish in a social interaction. We put effort into establishing the appropriate face for each encounter: the face you want to show a potential boss will be different to the face you want to show someone on a date. This effort is face-work.

With people we trust and know well, we don't worry so much about face, but with those we don't know – especially when those people have some power over us – we put in the face-work. When someone puts in face-work and yet doesn't achieve the face they want, they feel bad. If you strive to be seen as authoritative and someone treats you with minimal respect, you feel embarrassed and even humiliated. In some circumstances you might try to sabotage the encounter to feel better.

People skilled in the art of disagreement don't just think about their own face; they're highly attuned to the other's face. One of the most powerful social skills is the ability to give face; to confirm the public image that the other person wishes to project. In any conversation, when the other person feels their desired face is being accepted and confirmed, they're going to be a lot easier to deal with, and more likely to listen to what you have to say.

German officials negotiating with a representative of the hostage takers at the Olympic Games in Munich in 1972. Photograph: Bettmann Archive

No one knows this better than hostage negotiators. Hostage crises can be divided into two types. In "instrumental" crises, the interaction tends to be relatively rational in character. The hostage-taker sets out clear demands, and a bargaining process ensues. In "expressive" crises, the hostage-takers want to say something – to people at home, to the world. They are usually people who have acted impulsively: a father who has kidnapped his daughter after losing custody, a man who has tied up his girlfriend and is threatening to kill her. Most often, negotiators are dealing with individuals who have taken themselves hostage: people who have climbed to the top of a tall building and are threatening to jump. The hostage-taker in an expressive scenario is usually on edge, emotionally – angry, desperate, deeply insecure, and liable to act in unpredictable ways.

Negotiators are taught to soothe and reassure the hostage-taker before getting to the negotiation. William Donohue, a professor of communication at the University of Michigan, has spent decades studying conflict-ridden conversations – some successful, some failed – involving terrorists, pirates, and people on the brink of suicide. He talked to me about a key component of face: how powerful a person feels. Hostage-takers in expressive situations want their importance to be recognised in some way – to have their status acknowledged.

Donohue and his collaborator Paul Taylor, of Lancaster University, coined the term "one-down" to describe the party, in any kind of negotiation, who feels most insecure about their relative status. One-down parties are more likely to act aggressively and competitively, at the expense of finding common ground or coming up with solutions. In 1974, Spain and the US opened negotiations over the status of certain US military bases on Spanish soil. The political scientist Daniel Druckman looked at when American and Spanish negotiators adopted "hard tactics" or "soft tactics". He found that the Spanish team used threats and accusations three times as often as the American team. The Spanish, one-down, were aggressively asserting their autonomy.

When a hostage-taker feels dominated, he is more likely to resort to violence. "That's when words fail," Donohue told me. "In effect, the hostage-taker says: 'You haven't acknowledged respect for me, so I have to gain it by controlling you physically.'" People will go to great, even self-destructive lengths to avoid the perception that they are being walked over. One-down parties often play dirty, attacking their adversary from unexpected, hard-to-defend angles. Instead of looking for solutions that might work for everyone, they treat every negotiation as a zero-sum game in which someone must win and the other must lose. Instead of engaging with the content, they attack the person as a way of asserting their status.

By contrast, there are those who enter a negotiation expecting to succeed because they are, or perceive themselves to be, in the stronger position. They may well therefore adopt a more relaxed and expansive approach, focusing on the substance of the disagreement and looking for win-win solutions. They may also take more risks with their face, making moves that might otherwise be seen as weak, offering a more friendly and conciliatory dialogue. Since they don't fear losing face, they can reach out a hand.


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This is why giving face is so important. It is in a negotiator's interest for their counterpart to feel as secure as possible. Skilled negotiators are always trying to create the adversary they want. They know that when they're one-up, the smart thing to do is to narrow the gap.

A police negotiator offers a telephone to a hostage taker on a bus in Manila in the Philippines in 2007. Photograph: Joel Nito/AFP/Getty Images

In any conversation where there is an unequal power balance, the more powerful party is more likely to be focused on the top line – on the content or matter at hand – while the one-down party focuses on the relationship. Here are a few examples:

A parent says: "Why did you come home so late?" The teenage daughter thinks: "You're treating me like a little kid."

A doctor says: "We can't find anything wrong with you." The patient thinks: "You don't care about me."

A politician says: "The economy is growing more strongly than ever." A voter thinks: "Stop talking to me like I'm an idiot."

When a debate becomes volatile and dysfunctional, it's often because someone in the conversation feels they are not getting the face they deserve. This helps to explain the pervasiveness of bad temper on social media, which can sometimes feel like a status competition in which the currency is attention. On Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, anyone can get likes, retweets or new followers – in theory. But although there are exceptions, it is actually very hard for people who are not already celebrities to build a following. Gulled by the promise of high status, users then get angry when status is denied. Social media appears to give everyone an equal chance of being heard. In reality, it is geared to reward a tiny minority with massive amounts of attention, while the majority has very little. The system is rigged.


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So far, we've been talking about one aspect of face-work: status. However, there is another, closely related yet distinct component of a person's face, which is not so much about how high or low they feel, as who they feel they are.

E lisa Sobo, a professor of anthropology at San Diego State University, has interviewed parents who refuse vaccines. Why were these people, many of them smart and highly educated, ignoring mainstream medical advice that was based on sound science? Sobo concluded that for these individuals opposition to vaccines is not just a belief, but an "act of identification" – that is, it's more about opting in to a group than opting out of a treatment, like "getting a gang tattoo, slipping on a wedding ring, or binge-watching a popular streamed TV show". The refusal is "more about who one is and with whom one identifies than who one isn't or whom one opposes". Sobo points out that this is also true of those who opt in to vaccines: our desire to be associated with mainstream views on medicine is also a way of signalling who we are. That's why arguments between the two sides quickly become clashes of identity.

According to William Donohue, what drags participants into destructive conflict is usually a struggle over who they are. "I've seen it in hostage situations, in politics, in marital arguments," he said. "You don't know anything, you have problems, you're insensitive. One person feels like the other is attacking who they are, so they defend themselves, or hit back. It escalates."

That our opinions come tangled up with our sense of ourselves is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is something we need to be aware of when trying to get someone to do something they do not want to do, whether that's stop smoking, adapt to a new working practice, or vote for our candidate. Our goal should be to detach the disputed opinion or action away from the person's sense of self – to lower the identity stakes. The skilful disagreer finds a way of helping their adversary conclude that they can say or do something different, and still be themselves.

Pro-and anti-Brexit protesters arguing in London in 2019. Photograph: Avpics/Alamy Advertisement

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One way to do that is to have the disagreement away from an audience. In Boston in 1994, in the wake of a shooting at an abortion clinic, the philanthropist Laura Chasin reached out to six abortion activists, three of them pro-life, three pro-choice, and asked them to meet in secret to see if they could build some kind of understanding. Hard and even painful as it was, the six women met, clandestinely, over a period of years. At first, they found their positions hardening, and none of them ever changed their minds on the fundamental points. But over time, as they got to know each other, they felt able to think, communicate and negotiate in more unconstrained, less simplistic ways. The less that people feel compelled to maintain their face in front of allies, the more flexible they feel able to be.

The same principle applies to workplace conflicts. In front of an audience of colleagues, people are more likely to focus on how they want to be seen, rather than on the right way to solve the problem. If it is important to me to be seen as competent, I might react angrily to any challenge to my work. If I want to be seen as nice and cooperative, I might refrain from expressing my strongly felt opposition to a proposal in terms strong enough for anyone to notice. That's why, when a difficult work conversation arises, the participants often propose to "take it offline". The phrase used to mean simply an in-person discussion, but it has gained an additional nuance: "Let's take this potentially tough conversation to a place where there is less at stake for our faces."

Taking a disagreement offline can work, but it should only ever be seen as a second-best option. It means the problem at hand is exposed to the scrutiny of fewer minds, losing the benefits of open disagreements. The best way to lower the identity stakes is to create a workplace culture in which people do not feel much need to protect their face; a culture in which different opinions are explicitly encouraged, mistakes are expected, rules of conduct are understood, and everyone trusts that everyone else cares about the collective goal. Then you can really have it out.

S till, in most disagreements, face is at stake in some way, and while getting out of sight of an audience is one way of lowering the identity stakes, another way is to give face – to affirm your adversary's ideal sense of themselves. When you show me that you believe in who I am and want to be seen as, you make it easier for me to reconsider my position. By being personally gracious, you can depersonalise the disagreement.

Sometimes that can be as simple as offering a compliment at the very moment your adversary feels most vulnerable. Jonathan Wender, a former cop who co-founded an organisation called Polis that trains US police officers in de-escalation, has written a book about policing in which he notes that the act of arrest is a moment of potential humiliation for the suspect. Wender argues that when police officers are making an arrest, they should do what they can to make the person being arrested feel better about themselves.


He gives the example of arresting a man he calls Calvin, suspected of violent assault: "The officer and I each took hold of one of Calvin's arms and told him he was under arrest. He began to struggle and was clearly ready to fight. Given his large stature and history of violence, we wanted to avoid fighting with Calvin, which would inevitably leave him and officers injured. I told Calvin, 'Look, you're just too big for us to fight with.'"

Wender writes: "Officers can de-escalate a potential fight by affirming his dignity, especially in public." It is in a cop's interest to make the person they have arrested feel good, or at least less bad, about themselves. This is common sense – or at least it ought to be. It is amazing how often people commit what you might call the overdog's mistake: when, having achieved a dominant position, they brutally ram their advantage home, wounding the other party's sense of self. By doing so, they might gain some fleeting satisfaction, but they also create the adversary they do not want.

Wounded people are dangerous. In Memphis, when I visited a Polis training session, I watched as the instructor told the class that when he was a cop, he had seen officers hit suspects after they had been cuffed, sometimes in front of the suspect's friends or family. Not only was that wrong, he said, it was dumb: the act of humiliating someone in an arrest "can kill your colleagues". There was a grave murmur of assent in the room. Suspects who have been humiliated do not forget it, and some extract terrible revenge on a cop – any cop – years down the line. Humiliation hurts the humiliators and those associated with them. In a study of 10 international diplomatic crises, the political scientists William Zartman and Johannes Aurik described how, when stronger countries exert power over weaker countries, the weaker ones accede in the short term but look for ways to retaliate later on.

The death of consensus: how conflict came back to politics Read more

Adapted from Conflicted: Why Arguments Are Tearing Us Apart and How They Can Bring Us Together by Ian Leslie, published by Faber on 18 February and available at

[Nov 08, 2020] A fundamental ethical duty of the statesman is the cultivation of empathy: the ability through study to see the world through the eyes of rival state elites

Nov 08, 2020 |

The great realist thinker Hans Morgenthau stated that a fundamental ethical duty of the statesman is the cultivation of empathy: the ability through study to see the world through the eyes of rival state elites. Empathy in this sense is not identical with sympathy.

... It makes for an accurate assessment of another state establishment's goals based on its own thoughts, rather than a picture of those goals generated by one's own fears and hopes; above all, it permits one to identify the difference between the vital and secondary interests of a rival country as that country's rulers see them.

[Jul 28, 2020] Bullying works in international diplomacy as weaker powers have more to lose in a direct diplomatic crisis with a larger power

Jul 28, 2020 |

Kadath , Jul 27 2020 18:46 utc | 8

Re: James #1,

With respect to "bullying works", in international diplomacy it usually does since weaker powers have more to lose in a direct diplomatic crisis with a larger power. This is not to say that they won't push back, but they will be far more strategic in where they do. In essence, weaker powers have fewer "red lines" but they will still enforce those, while greater powers have more "red lines", because they have more power to squander on fundamentally insignificant issues. However, weaker states will still remember being abused and oppressed, so when the worms turns while they won't be the first to jump ship, they will be more than eager to pile on and extract some juicy retribution once it is clear they will not be singled out. I suspect the Germany will be the bellwether, when (if) Germany breaks from the US on a key aspect on the transatlantic relationship that will be the signal for others to start jumping ship. If Nordstream 2 go through, then there will be a break within 5 years; if Nordstream is killed, then the break might be delayed for 5 years or more but there will still be a break when the US pushes Germany to support the next major US regime change war in the Middle East.

[Jul 05, 2020] Diplomacy as exploitation of human biases and weaknesses to get the outcome you want

From the review of Never Split the Difference- Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It . The ke ideas are common-sence: Focus on open-ended questions instead of those that only allow a bipolar - yes or no - answer.
Mr. Voss's negotiation approach is roughly as follows:
1. Listen to the other party carefully. Mr. Voss believes that people wish to be understood and accepted and listening is the best way to do that.
2. Second thing that he emphasises is to spot the emotion in the other party, summarise/ paraphrase what the other person is saying. Summarising may not be by accepting what the other person is saying but by "labelling it". This way the counter party feels safe, understood and develops trust. This makes the other person more open to ideas.
3. People like autonomy and control. Allowing them to say no is often a great way to understand their reservations and also gives them the feeling that they are in control. Understanding their resistance can open up things.
4. Watch out for the phrase "That's right". Human beings like to be understood and positively affirmed. Once that happens, it is possible to get a positive breakthrough.
5. Importance of asking callibrative questions by using words such as "What/ When/ How/ Who". As the author says, this a way of saying no, without saying no and giving the other person the illusion of control.
6. Importance of the parties feeling that they have been accorded "Fair Treatment"
7. Anchoring proposals to get the desired outcome.
Jul 05, 2020 |

Particularly useful is the simple advice to keep asking what Voss calls 'calibrated questions' that begin with 'What' or 'How' in order to put the onus on the other side to help solve the problem. The starkest example is given at the beginning of the book. When told: 'Give us a million dollars or we'll kill your son', rather than saying 'No', he says, 'How am I supposed to do that?'. This makes the demand the hostage-takers problem, and sets up the conversation for a genuine negotiation, while buying time and gathering more information about the situation from the antagonist's responses.

Other advice includes:

Catarina C.5.0 out of 5 stars Reviewed in Germany on 3 December 2018

I am sorry, but should I review this book?

If you read this amazing book, you got the reference. You know how important it is to ask questions and let the other part feel they they are in control during the negotiation. Throughout the book, you will get a comprehensive guide with a plethora of actionables that you can and will want to use immediately in any negotiation.

Some of my favorite tips for improving your negotiation skills are:

* Keep asking (the right) questions in order to lead the negotiation to the outcome you desire.

* Focus on open-ended questions instead of those that only allow a bipolar - yes or no - answer.

* Slow the negotiation process down.

* Make your counterpart feel safe enough to reveal themselves and their deepest needs / motivations.

* Mirror someone else's behavior if you want them to rethink their position.

* Convey that you are listening. Show empathy by describing to someone how they really feel.

* Make a list of the worst things the other party can say about you and revert those accusations in your favor.

* Do not fear hearing the word "no" and do not stay away from conflict. Conflict is what triggers the actual negotiation.

* While negotiating, look for the magical words "that's right". At that moment, you know you have the full attention of your counterpart.

* Be mindful of the adjective "fair" and cautious when dealing with abstract deadlines.

* Ask "how" and "what". Use "why" sparingly.

* Choose to ignore provocations and emotion-based attacks.

* Prepare well for any negotiation and try to identify your counterpart's negotiation style.

* Exploit any similarity between you and your counterpart.

* Review everything you hear from your counterpart and try to gather any relevant piece of information that might change the course of the negotiation.

So many valuable tips in such a concise book! Besides being easy to read, this book is indeed a must-have, because the author, Chris Voss, spent several decades in the FBI. He definitely practised what he preaches and specialized in negotiating hostage situations.

To wrap things up, I cannot recommend you this book enough. Please read it! You will get techniques that actually work and are endorsed by authentic examples from the daily life of an FBI agent.

Finally, in the appendix, you will get a negotiation preparation 101 to help you with your "one sheet", a file you should have with you to every negotiation that might occur.

[Apr 02, 2020] Trump statements about coronavirus in time

Sometimes he was right. But definitely is not a diplomat.
Apr 02, 2020 |

Cam carl sanders9 hours ago ,

Feb. 27: "It's going to disappear. One day -- it's like a miracle -- it will disappear." -- Trump at a White House meeting with African American leaders.

March 7: "No, I'm not concerned at all. No, we've done a great job with it." -- Trump, when asked by reporters if he was concerned about the arrival of the coronavirus in the Washington, D.C., area.

March 9: "So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!" -- Trump in a tweet.

March 10: "And we're prepared, and we're doing a great job with it. And it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away." -- Trump after meeting with Republican senators.

Florida and Texas governors just implement lock down within the last 24 hours and still no federal mandate. Certainly not to blame for the terrible situation but denial and lack of any cohesive plan will result in more deaths the necessary

M_H_Florida_43 Cam3 hours ago , posted comments made by an elected official that isn't a medial professional.'s ignorant...but, anybody getting their medical information from a U.S president (or any president) is an idiot. Trump is A republican, but is NOT the republican party.

originalintent Cam2 hours ago ,

""It's going to disappear. One day -- it's like a miracle -- it will disappear."

Was there a reason to edit out the rest of the statement?

"It's going to disappear. One day it's like a miracle, it will
disappear. And from our shores, you know, it could get worse before it
gets better," Trump said. "It could maybe go away. We'll see what
happens. Nobody really knows. The fact is the greatest experts I've
spoken to them all, nobody really knows."

"and still no federal mandate"

That's because states are responsible. Were you thinking we have enough federal resources to impose such a federal mandate?

[Feb 29, 2020] Diplomat's Dictionary Second Edition (Cross-Cultural Negotiation Books) Chas. W. Freeman Jr., David Ignatius 9781601270504

Feb 29, 2020 |

With its first edition in 1994, The Diplomat's Dictionary quickly became a classic reference book, offering professionals and enthusiasts practical information, witty insights, and words of wisdom on the art and practice of diplomacy. The expanded second edition contains 476 new entries, including definitions for selected up-to-date terminology and hundreds of additional quotations from across cultures and centuries.


Diplomat , Reviewed in the United States on August 16, 2016

Dictionary of Selected Quotes in Diplomacy but NOT Diplomatic Dictionary

This is NOT a "Diplomatic Dictionary", but a bunch of quotes! Nevertheless, it might be interesting for students, but the book should be called "Dictionary of Selected Quotes in Diplomacy".

KBD , Reviewed in the United States on August 9, 2011
Fun to have, but practical? maybe not?

This is a nice book to sit down and read through at random, but it really is just what is says, a dictionary of quotes and advice. So I am glad that, seldom as it happens, when I have spare time I can sit down and glance through it. Is is something that I will ever sit down and read cover to cover? Probably not.

[Feb 29, 2020] Arts of Power Statecraft and Diplomacy (Cross-Cultural Negotiation Books) by Chas. W. Freeman Jr.

Feb 29, 2020 |

Todd P. Hubbard , Reviewed in the United States on May 5, 2016

I use this book in my Ethics course, to ...

I use this book in my Ethics course, to help students understand office politics. If my students don't understand office politics and how to maneuver, they might be drawn into unethical behavior. The book is also important for new faculty members who want to get along, while honoring other faculty members.

Luis Mansilla , Reviewed in the United States on September 30, 2006

Engaging and concise introduction to Diplomacy

This book is a excellent introduction for people into diplomacy and statecraft. In its brief pages, you learn all the definitions, such as the functions of a embassy or a consulate, the way to conduct state relations, the skills for diplomacy, a topic about Intelligence and much more.

Now I understand why sometimes an ambassador is call for consultation!

[Jun 30, 2019] The The science of influencing people: six ways to win an argument by David Robson

Jun 30, 2019 |

Little wonder that discussions about politics can leave us feeling that we are banging our heads against a brick wall – even when talking to people we might otherwise respect. Fortunately, recent psychological research also offers evidence-based ways towards achieving more fruitful discussions. Ask 'how' rather than 'why'

Thanks to the illusion of explanatory depth, many political arguments will be based on false premises, spoken with great confidence but with a minimal understanding of the issues at hand. For this reason, a simple but powerful way of deflating someone's argument is to ask for more detail. "You need to get the 'other side' focusing on how something would play itself out, in a step by step fashion", says Prof Dan Johnson at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. By revealing the shallowness of their existing knowledge, this prompts a more moderate and humble attitude.

In 2013, Prof Philip Fernbach at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and colleagues asked participants in cap-and-trade schemes – designed to limit companies' carbon emissions – to describe in depth how they worked. Subjects initially took strongly polarised views but after the limits of their knowledge were exposed, their attitudes became more moderate and less biased.

It's important to note that simply asking why people supported or opposed the policy – without requiring them to explain how it works – had no effect, since those reasons could be shallower ("It helps the environment") with little detail. You need to ask how something works to get the effect.

If you are debating the merits of a no-deal Brexit, you might ask someone to describe exactly how the UK's international trade would change under WTO terms. If you are challenging a climate emergency denier, you might ask them to describe exactly how their alternative theories can explain the recent rise in temperatures. It's a strategy that the broadcaster James O'Brien employs on his LBC talk show – to powerful effect.

Fill their knowledge gap with a convincing story

If you are trying to debunk a particular falsehood – like a conspiracy theory or fake news – you should make sure that your explanation offers a convincing, coherent narrative that fills all the gaps left in the other person's understanding.

Consider the following experiment by Prof Brendan Nyhan of the University of Michigan and Prof Jason Reifler of the University of Exeter. Subjects read stories about a fictional senator allegedly under investigation for bribery who had subsequently resigned from his post. Written evidence – a letter from prosecutors confirming his innocence – did little to change the participants' suspicions of his guilt. But when offered an alternative explanation for his resignation – to take on another role – participants changed their minds. The same can be seen in murder trials: people are more likely to accept someone's innocence if another suspect has also been accused, since that fills the biggest gap in the story: whodunnit.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Boris Johnson, Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove, Sajid Javid and Rory Stewart taking part in a BBC TV debate earlier this month. Photograph: Jeff Overs/BBC/PA

The persuasive power of well-constructed narratives means that it's often useful to discuss the sources of misinformation, so that the person can understand why they were being misled in the first place. Anti-vaxxers, for instance, may believe a medical conspiracy to cover up the supposed dangers of vaccines. You are more likely to change minds if you replace that narrative with an equally cohesive and convincing story – such as Andrew Wakefield 's scientific fraud, and the fact that he was set to profit from his paper linking autism to MMR vaccines. Just stating the scientific evidence will not be as persuasive.

Reframe the issue

Each of our beliefs is deeply rooted in a much broader and more complex political ideology. Climate crisis denial, for instance, is now inextricably linked to beliefs in free trade, capitalism and the dangers of environmental regulation.

Attacking one issue may therefore threaten to unravel someone's whole worldview – a feeling that triggers emotionally charged motivated reasoning. It is for this reason that highly educated Republicans in the US deny the overwhelming evidence.

You are not going to alter someone's whole political ideology in one discussion, so a better strategy is to disentangle the issue at hand from their broader beliefs, or to explain how the facts can still be accommodated into their worldview. A free-market capitalist who denies global warming might be far more receptive to the evidence if you explain that the development of renewable energies could lead to technological breakthroughs and generate economic growth.

Appeal to an alternative identity

If the attempt to reframe the issue fails, you might have more success by appealing to another part of the person's identity entirely.

Someone's political affiliation will never completely define them, after all. Besides being a conservative or a socialist, a Brexiter or a remainer, we associate ourselves with other traits and values – things like our profession, or our role as a parent. We might see ourselves as a particularly honest person, or someone who is especially creative. "All people have multiple identities," says Prof Jay Van Bavel at New York University, who studies the neuroscience of the "partisan brain" . "These identities can become active at any given time, depending on the circumstances."

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You are more likely to achieve your aims by arguing gently and kindly. You will also come across better to onlookers

It's natural that when talking about politics, the salient identity will be our support for a particular party or movement. But when people are asked to first reflect on their other, nonpolitical values, they tend to become more objective in discussion on highly partisan issues , as they stop viewing facts through their ideological lens.

You could try to use this to your advantage during a heated conversation, with subtle flattery that appeals to another identity and its set of values; if you are talking to a science teacher, you might try to emphasise their capacity to appraise evidence even-handedly. The aim is to help them recognise that they can change their mind on certain issues while staying true to other important elements of their personality.

Persuade them to take an outside perspective

Another simple strategy to encourage a more detached and rational mindset is to ask your conversation partner to imagine the argument from the viewpoint of someone from another country. How, for example, would someone in Australia or Iceland view Boris Johnson as our new prime minister?

Prof Ethan Kross at the University of Michigan, and Prof Igor Grossmann at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, have shown that this strategy increases "psychological distance" from the issue at hand and cools emotionally charged reasoning so that you can see things more objectively. During the US presidential elections, for instance, their participants were asked to consider how someone in Iceland would view the candidates. They were subsequently more willing to accept the limits of their knowledge and to listen to alternative viewpoints; after the experiment, they were even more likely to join a bipartisan discussion group.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest The front pages of two New York newspapers on Friday 2 June 2017, as Donald Trump pledged to withdraw the US from the Paris climate agreement. Photograph: Richard B Levine/Alamy

This is only one way to increase someone's psychological distance, and there are many others. If you are considering policies with potentially long-term consequences, you could ask them to imagine viewing the situation through the eyes of someone in the future. However you do it, encouraging this shift in perspective should make your friend or relative more receptive to the facts you are presenting, rather than simply reacting with knee-jerk dismissals.

Be kind

Here's a lesson that certain polemicists in the media might do well to remember – people are generally much more rational in their arguments, and more willing to own up to the limits of their knowledge and understanding, if they are treated with respect and compassion. Aggression, by contrast, leads them to feel that their identity is threatened, which in turn can make them closed-minded.

Assuming that the purpose of your argument is to change minds, rather than to signal your own superiority, you are much more likely to achieve your aims by arguing gently and kindly rather than belligerently , and affirming your respect for the person, even if you are telling them some hard truths. As a bonus, you will also come across better to onlookers. "There's a lot of work showing that third-party observers always attribute high levels of competence when the person is conducting themselves with more civility," says Dr Joe Vitriol, a psychologist at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. As Lady Mary Wortley Montagu put it in the 18th century: "Civility costs nothing and buys everything."

• David Robson is the author of The Intelligence Trap: Why Smart People Do Stupid Things and How to Make Wiser Decisions (Hodder & Stoughton, £20). To order a copy go to . Free UK p&p on all online orders over £15

[May 09, 2019] Sen. Kamala Harris Reacts To Scolding By GOP Senators The 11th Hour MSNBC

Case study of female bully behaviour.
From the comments it is clear that Kamala diplomatic skills are much to be desired.
Her style is very simple: Bullying and attempt to intimidate. It only works against betas. Typical trick: "Is it true you've stopped beating your wife? Yes or no. Please answer the question. Think carefully about your answer."
May 09, 2019 |

During a Senate Intelligence hearing, things got heated between Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Republican senators on the committee.
" Subscribe to MSNBC:

Liz Tunks 1 day ago

Kamala Harris Is a BULLY. She never lets the person she is questioning to Answer the Questions . I can't stand her.

Carrot Top 1 day ago Y

es or no sir??/?? ...she doesn't even wait for a response. Clearly she has major emotional issues.

brian kingman 2 hours ago

Kameltoe Harris is rude, and lacks the skills necessary to be a Senator

philip gensler 4 hours ago

She slept her way into government sleeping with Willie Brown ex San Francisco mayor Diane Byers 7 months ago Lol what a low class, bottom feeding , smirking ghetto rump!!!!

Ronnie Williams 4 hours ago

She has no civility or decorum. She tries to trip people up.

scott albert 1 year ago

She's lucky the Chairman didn't publicly reprimand her when she raised her eyebrows and then talked over the top of him when he told her to suspend. She's just a bully

Michael Kuhl 7 months ago

The Home-wrecker (Harris) should be in jail, not the Senate (look up Willie Brown, then do a little research on how Ms. Harris was GIVEN her Senate seat). You will be amazed.

Angela Hagerman 8 months ago

Looks like Kamala is taking lessons from Maxine Waters

Tommy Rocket 1 year ago

MSNBC.. what you are saying is completely untrue. Sessions was trying to answer her questions honestly and when Kamala Harris realized she was not going to get the answer her engineered question was designed to achieve, she immediately pressed on with her next question without giving Session the chance to finish.

Typical smoke and mirrors witch hunt over something that just does not exist. I would love to Kamala Harris question Lorreta Lynch... it would last for 48 hours

Kathi Culbreth 7 months ago

Harris is the most ENTITLEMENT MINDED, disrespectful, without integrity hack at this hearing! Please vote her out

Joe Pyne 1 year ago

She seems to have a problem with CIVILITY.

ar1793 7 months ago

I live in California. Harris is an embarrassment to us all!!!!

Marcfj 3 months ago (edited)

The woman is neither as intelligent nor as talented as she would have us believe.

nemo227 7 months ago

This happened in 2017 but Kamala is a very slow learner. Today, 9/13/2018, and she is STILL the same Kamala "bully" Harris. Is she working for the citizens or simply trying to make political points?

Matthew Panko 1 year ago

I have listened to her a few times now and her pattern never changes. I personally think she is a very Rude person.

[May 09, 2019] WATCH 'I do have questions' about how Russia investigations were conducted, Barr said

Barr is a very gifted diplomat. You need to listed to the exchange to understand this high class deflection of very pointed questions.
Notable quotes:
"... I could listen to Barr all day. He has mastered the art of the neutral answer. It's the political equivalent of a poker face. But a bet you in approximately 3 months he is going to crush quite a few people. ..."
Apr 10, 2019 |

Attorney General William Barr told senators during a subcommittee hearing that he has concerns about how the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election was conducted. But Barr said he had "no specific evidence" to cite during the hearing showing there was anything improper about the investigation.

Barr also rejected Sen. Jack Reed's, D-R.I., characterization that he was putting together a "panel" to look into the FBI's handling of the case.

Robert Lee James Welch 3 weeks ago Barr looks very tactful. Cold. He has a whole strategy lined up. This is how you play human chess. Habitual line stepper 4 weeks ago It was a witch-hunt and it was an illegal treasonous attempted coup of of the United States government

Dawn Markey 4 weeks ago (edited)

I respect this man. "I'll use my own adjectives" Brilliant! He refuses to play their silly games. And they won't bully him, that's for sure.

Eagle Twenty1 4 weeks ago

The previous administration, through illegal and unconstitutional spying, used a weaponized intelligence agency to try and perform a Coup on a president elected by the will of the people. Seth Rich was the DNC leaker and he paid with his life ( ref John Podesta Wikileaks email about " making an example of the leaker") and to cover all that up, along with the embarrassing content of the emails, came the " Russia collusion " red herring. This is ridiculous, as a proud patriot its disheartening. The only way for America to heal is for those guilty of treason to be brought to justice.

mike deitz 3 weeks ago The Special Council does not have authority to exonerate to begin with.

Harry Dickus 3 weeks ago Dems are grasping for straws now. The coin will be flipped very soon for anyone who has actually watched the whole hearing and listened carefully.

CanadianLoki76 4 weeks ago The Dems is looking for anything to use as a reason for impeachment. They will say we need to impeach him so he can then face Obstruction charges. Even if those charges are virtually zero chance of causing a conviction. Because they are circumstantial. BUT they will still use it as "we just have to remove him via impeachment so he can be tried".... You just know that is the tune they will sing if there even a SLIGHT inclination of a possible charge. The fact AG, DAG and Mueller all said there is no charge to bring forward. It cannot stand up in court. It clearly must be more of a "there is no law broken, but it was morally wrong".. That however = Exonerated because the law works via court and being found GUILTY. So if no charges are brought forward you cannot say he is "guilty" of anything. Joe 3 weeks ago I got an was a PALACE COUP!!!

maxwell geary 4 weeks ago It is something to realize a prosecutor cannt exonerated that is not his function . Seams that what we have here is a bunch of ignorant indoctrinated partisans . Let's try for some semblance intelligence

Luke Pare 3 weeks ago Barr is so dignified... definitely the only adult in the room

Best Value 4 weeks ago This is juicy. Wonder what the Clintons are thinking?

Ray bassman 3 weeks ago

Obama will go to prison also for his secret "Project Pelican" at a FL. port- treason!!! see clip here. @uu4s

Amy Bork 3 weeks ago

The Obama administration spied on a presidential candidate. Yes, this is much more insidious than Watergate.

Douglas Adams 3 weeks ago

DemoRATS can't figure out that they are deep in a hole in over their heads yet they just keep digging..Blows my mind..

Jerrell Strawn 4 days ago

Attorney General Barr has said he has multiple ongoing investigations about Democrats' attempted (ongoing) coup of President Trump. Democrats are now threatening AG Barr with contempt of Congress charges, impeachment, and removal from office. That's obstruction of justice. CD Jones 1 week ago "I haven't used those terms" is a perfect legal response. Doesn't mean he doesn't agree with the terms, and doesn't mean he won't use those terms in the future. Way to squash the fool Barr!

Susan Giambra 4 weeks ago

So Mr. Barr says Mr. Reed, isn't it naughty that the President used the words "Witchunt, Illegal". Good Lord play with CNN wackadoodles. This man is way above obstructionist games.

zorea 4 weeks ago

They mean Demonrats when they say America. Most americans let the facts form their opinion and know Rosenstein, strolzs and Coomey with others set Trump up for the collusion and the obstruction for a partisan narrative to help the crooks and Congress and deep state (swamp) stay in power.

Jake k 3 weeks ago

I could listen to Barr all day. He has mastered the art of the neutral answer. It's the political equivalent of a poker face. But a bet you in approximately 3 months he is going to crush quite a few people.

[Feb 24, 2019] A l>esson in bad diplomacy

The Dutch historian was trying to hit below the belt, and Tucker entertained it for a while, but finally saw through the con game. Of course, his reaction was not well though out and he looks unprepared, but this does not change that nature of this debate: this was a setup. Attempt of entrapment, which succeeded.
An Interesting diplomacy lesson, though.
Feb 24, 2019 |

Christi G , 2 days ago

Um... this guy, Bregman is a creepy, lying sleezebag. Who cares if Tucker is a millionaire? Who cares where Fox gets funding (don't know, don't care) as long as they let Tucker be Tucker and give HIS opinions and talk about what HE believes matters and gives HIS honest opinions.

Tucker over and over is one of the FEW who tell the truth, one of the FEW who cares about the middle class, and the real problems with immigration.

This guys is speaking gobblygoop because he dislikes conservatives and most likely, by the sound of it, is pro rampant immigration and illegal immigration, which is why he dislikes Tucker.

keepithd2010 , 1 day ago

The problem as it always is that liberals new give Republicans a chance to speak. This guy cut off Tucker every possible second so you could not hear his rebuttal really sad.

Erik Dale , 1 day ago

The Dutch guy is blunt, but still a moron. Idiots will feel vindicated, but glad they didn't air this rubbish.

Endstation , 1 day ago

It's obvious that Tucker Carlson misrepresents the point made by the dutch historian, most probably on purpose. Nobody said that the owners or managers of Fox News "tells you what to say". The main point is that if you would say something different, you would not keep your job, and/or you would not have obtained your job in the first place. That is, Fox News only hires people with your type of political agenda, because your view fits their corporate interests. This is basic capitalist logic and basic economics. They would never hire e.g. Noam Chomsky to host one of their programs. That's the entire point. You get paid by billionaires to say what they want you to say.

Giulio Campobassi , 1 day ago (edited)

Not defending Carlson, or Fox network, but Bregman's strategy was to troll Carlson for a reaction and succeeded. Bregman loses credibility for doing that and also loses credibility for the higher taxes debate for the mega rich, which really does need to be addressed. And as much as Fox is pro-Republican, this channel is pro-Democrat... so buyer beware

Amarandum Valdamaris , 1 day ago

His economic arguments are garbage, but he's correct that everyone's been bought and paid for. We've institutionalized bribery to such a degree that any criticism of it is immediately shut down. Everyone's a shill. Let's all just force them out of power and start over.

Michael Sinclair , 3 days ago

Weak debating skills there, Carlson. lmao

Rachel Rust , 2 days ago

Tucker agreed with him, that's why he invited him on the show. Instead the historian wanted to virtue signal by saying "oh you didn't get on board fast enough". What kind of argument is that?

JNM11787 , 9 hours ago

Tucker was giving this guy a chance and then he goes all personal attack on tucker...he may have a point but it was still a bad move

sdfs , 10 hours ago

Bergman planned this as an attack and continued to talk over Carlson with his childish lisp so he couldn't argue his side. Carlson could have handled it much better, but this guy clearly did this whole interview as a 'gotcha' attempt.

egodeosum , 1 day ago

I don't get what's so great about this. If you don't think Carlson Tucker an honest broker decline the interview. His talk at Davos was great but I'm not going to celebrate someone with whom I agree on certain matters successfully trolling someone with whom I don't. This video will get around for a while in its bubble, get a few chuckles, and accomplish nothing.

Atlee Lang , 1 day ago

So this Dutch guy who is brought on to talk about Davos instead makes a bunch of false and insulting comments about the host. He's a liar with no argument. Also he was smug and stupid and boring. I would have sworn at him and kept him off the air as well.

Patrick McLeod , 2 days ago (edited)

*I'm actually surprised & disappointed that Tucker allowed himself to become so frustrated that he lashed out with insults. That's actually MUCH more commonly seen among leftists.Aside from that, what happened here was a progressive constantly filibustering his opponent.* He wouldn't stop talking and allow Tucker to answer a question for the 2nd half of the conversation.

He just kept saying stuff like "you're a millionaire owned by billionaires" and "you just don't have an answer", etc etc. Literally every time Tucker would begin to answer this guy's accusations, the guy would IMMEDIATELY interrupt and repeat the ^above platitudes again, effectively filibustering the conversation.** If that's what progressives(commenting here) think qualifies as "destroying someone in a debate", or "telling truth to power", then it's no wonder you are so supportive of modern radical leftist strategy!

Because the modern leftist strategy is to DOMINATE conversations, prevent honest & open debate by shouting down speakers so they can't get their points across.

Or simply prevent ANY speaker with a different opinion from giving speeches in the first place. That's pretty standard on most university campuses now(and increasingly so in the news media as well). Many professors deceptively indoctrinate and radicalize their young, impressionable students. Then they ensure the students don't don't come into contact with any ideas that may contradict that indoctrination, by refusing to allow different political & ideological opinions to be heard. In other words, they are running these schools in the opposite way that they should be. Some times non-leftist speakers can't be prevented from visiting and giving speeches.

The leftist strategy in that case, is often for the radical professors to manipulate their more easily manipulated students into showing up at the speech for the sole purpose of continually shouting down the speaker. In the mean time, other radical leftists will often be rioting outside. Bottom line, Marxism, socialism doesn't stand up to scrutiny, which is the entire reason why leftists try so hard to prevent diverse opinions from being heard!

Stephen Wayda , 22 hours ago

Tucker Carlson is far better than the vast majority of puppets on air.

Three One , 2 days ago

Carlson tried to find common ground with Bregman. Well that didn't work.

Dominiq Valentin , 2 days ago

Tucker honestly just got too emotional this mans points were both easy to refute and childish and Tucker clearly wasn't thinking straight.

bob brown , 2 days ago

well to be honest, that wasn't fair play from the dutch guy either. He is basically calling Tucker a thieve and a crooked man that takes money from billionaires and also tells him that he doesn't do his job well and is an opportunist live on air to his face. Well what sort of reaction can you expect?? yeah i mean, he could and should have handled it with more class, but still this dutch guy ins't a "hero" or some sort of visionary. He got invited to talk to a show and took the opportunity to deliver some low punches and insult the guy who brought him on.

Simon Payne , 4 hours ago

The reason why it didn't air was because it was boring. The Dutch guy had to chance to talk about his brave trip to Davos where he spoke the truth to power but then never told us what he did. He had a platform to make a case and instead just started whining at Tucker 'Tucker Man Bad' - yawn. Who wants to see that, it's boring. Tell us what your master plan was, entertain us or inform us but if you do neither there's no reason to listen to your self important nonsense.

Bill Garrity , 1 day ago

In the middle of the interview, it became clear that Bregman was simply trying to set up Carlson for an attack and it didn't work. Carlson agreed with everything Bregman said, and that put Bregman off balance. So Bregman scrambled and began hurling insults and essentially name-calling as well as acting as though Carlson was disagreeing with him when he in fact was not.

vivthefree , 1 day ago

I think Bregman made a mistake here. He should have held his tongue and not insulted his host. He has too much to offer to waste it on taking a shot at Fox News. Fox News are easy to pick apart, and if their viewers can't see how bad they are by now, one interview like this will not change their minds. Better to put an idea before them; better to try bring about broad consensus on the issue.

[Aug 19, 2018] Why we do not negotiate with the USA

Notable quotes:
"... The U.S. sets the main goals in negotiating with anyone and does not retreat an inch from the self-asserted goals. ..."
"... The U.S. does not offer anything in cash or immediate in return for what it receives in cash. It simply makes strong promises and tries to enchant the other side by mere promises. ..."
"... And in the final step, when things are over and the U.S. has received the cash, the immediate benefits, it breaches the same promises. ..."
Aug 19, 2018 |

The Iranian Supreme Leader even posted a special graphic summary to summarize and explain the Iranian position:

This is the U.S. formula for negotiation:

  1. Because U.S. officials depend on power and money, they consider negotiations as a business deal.
  2. The U.S. sets the main goals in negotiating with anyone and does not retreat an inch from the self-asserted goals.
  3. They demand the other side to give them immediate benefits and if the other party refrains from giving in, the U.S. officials will create an uproar so that their partner would give up.
  4. The U.S. does not offer anything in cash or immediate in return for what it receives in cash. It simply makes strong promises and tries to enchant the other side by mere promises.
  5. And in the final step, when things are over and the U.S. has received the cash, the immediate benefits, it breaches the same promises.
  6. This is the U.S.'s method of negotiation. Now, should one negotiate with such a duplicitous government?

[Jul 24, 2018] Reader Coping Strategies for Engaging With Committed Liberals by Yves Smith

Notable quotes:
"... By contrast, Americans, who pretend to fetishize individualism, are conformists. Dissent is not well tolerated at work or social spheres. And its only gotten worse as media fragmentation and political strategies based on hitting voter hot buttons means that many people are deeply invested in their political views, whether they are well founded or not. Punitive unfriending and other forms of ostracism have become a new normal. ..."
"... She said the "fake news" campaign has been extremely effective in discrediting non-mainstream views. And since her friends are also PhDs, she was also frustrated at their refusal to consider evidence, or entertain the idea that their preferred sources were biased. ..."
"... One approach she has used that worked was to find information from other sources they could not reject, like Reuters and the Associated Press, that had not been covered in the New York Times or better yet, contradicted what they wanted to believe, such as a Reuters story describing how Germany opposed sanctions against Russia. But she clearly found it taxing to find these informational nuggets. ..."
"... Saying early on that Hillary was an awful alternative to Trump can lower the temperature considerably. Going on to talk about issues and staying away from Trump bashing is a follow through. ..."
"... Speaking as a member of the clergy, I have a suggestion about how to use the teachings of Jesus to reach Team Blue, whether or not they subscribe to Christianity in some form. ..."
"... One of the most radical of Jesus' teachings, one that is often given lip service but is extremely difficult to put into practice, is the commandment that we love our enemies and pray for them ..."
"... I am increasingly encountering extremism as the base line for discussions, really arguments, in my daily encounters. This comes from both ends of the political spectrum. This I perceive as a sign of desperation. ..."
"... Fair enough, Chuck, but I think you might be missing a very important bit: the fact that many people who are otherwise staunch rank-and-file supporters might also have an otherwise invisible breakpoint, or fault line. I say this as a former Dem Party supporter, who did the full song and dance – supported Hillary, supported Kerry before that, and was a total devotee to Obama. I was as tied to the Dem party as anyone not getting a paycheck could be, and when Obama won, I was elated. I thought that things would really change. ..."
"... The Financial Crisis was a rude, rude awakening. The pretty speeches meant little, and did even less. If anyone had a hand in setting fire to my generally moderate viewpoint, it was Obama himself, his worship for Wall Street, and his inability to put up a fight about anything. It was a weird time for me, politically, but 2008-2016 was what set the stage, while the last set of primaries only confirmed what I had felt in my gut for many years. ..."
"... Listen is first. Would you expect to walk into any fundamentalist church or mosque and change minds? Conversation among strangers gets more specific along commonalities until it hits a split point, then drops down a level. If nothing in common, there's always the weather. That's universal. ..."
"... On Russia – the biggest "liberal" fake new angle for years now – I say "Not one single piece of evidence has ever been presented that Russia meddled in the election. Not one single piece. The same agencies that said WMD in Iraq are now telling us Russia meddled. This is Democrat's WMD in Iraq moment." ..."
"... The Making of the President 2016 ..."
"... my point is that she enforces dogma and insinuates disloyalty in any heretic. ..."
"... It would be great if the one group of unthinking believers cancelled out the other group of unthinking believers, but of course the adherents are so blind to reality that that can't see that the difference between Bush's Goldman Sachs' Treasury Secretary and Obama Goldman Sachs' Treasury Secretary is .???? ..."
"... I wonder, sadly, if "engaging with liberals" might be, in fact, a lost cause. Struggling to find common cause with the delusional amidst the collapse of empire, environmental catastrophe, and financial ruin might not be the best use of limited resources. ..."
"... Americans, who pretend to fetishize individualism, are conformists ..."
"... fairness and decency ..."
"... Arguing with entrenched people is a lost cause but sarcasm = mercilessly tearing right into their own hypocrisy does the work of shaming them for a while, especially if you make the point about a topic they are virtue signalling about. These people do not have a policy idea in mind, they are pure virtue signallers. ..."
"... knows what he is talking about ..."
Jul 24, 2018 |

An oft-repeated bit of advice in America is never to talk about religion or politics. Sadly, the reason is that Americans are dreadful at talking across political lines. When I lived in Australia in the early 2000s and adopted a pub, by contrast, I found the locals to be eager to debate the topics of the day yet remain civil about it. That may be because Australians in generally have mastered the art of being confrontational by lacing it with humor and/or self deprecation.

By contrast, Americans, who pretend to fetishize individualism, are conformists. Dissent is not well tolerated at work or social spheres. And its only gotten worse as media fragmentation and political strategies based on hitting voter hot buttons means that many people are deeply invested in their political views, whether they are well founded or not. Punitive unfriending and other forms of ostracism have become a new normal.

And now that we have anger over Trump directed at not the best or most useful objects, like Russia! Russia! as opposed to his packing of the Federal bench, or his environmental policies, or even his push to privatize Federal parks, a lot of educated people expect, even demand, that their friends be vocal supporters of the #Resistance.

For instance, at the San Francisco meetup, I spent a fair bit of time with a woman who had held elected offices in her community. She was clearly distressed by the fact (without using such crass terms) that her friends had turned into pod people. They all believe that the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the New Yorker are authoritative. When she tried arguing with them about what they've read in these outlets, they shoot back, "Oh, so you believe in fake news?" She said the "fake news" campaign has been extremely effective in discrediting non-mainstream views. And since her friends are also PhDs, she was also frustrated at their refusal to consider evidence, or entertain the idea that their preferred sources were biased.

One approach she has used that worked was to find information from other sources they could not reject, like Reuters and the Associated Press, that had not been covered in the New York Times or better yet, contradicted what they wanted to believe, such as a Reuters story describing how Germany opposed sanctions against Russia. But she clearly found it taxing to find these informational nuggets. She also said they would not consider foreign sources, even the BBC or Der Spiegel or Le Monde.

Readers also discussed their frustrations in Links over the weekend. For instance:

Montanamaven , July 22, 2018 at 8:28 am

"Shame" looks to me like the word of the week. I've heard from liberal/Democrat friends that they are "ashamed" of this President. They are embarrassed by his behavior at NATO and Helsinki. I asked, "Who are you embarassed in front of? What does that mean?" Then I got a link to a Thomas Friedman article .

I'm not sure how to answer my friends with grace. I don't want to be condescending by saying "Really, you read Tom Friedman without a red pen in your hand?" What should I say? "I had no idea you were a globalist although you are kind of anti labor, right?" Any suggestions for talking to Dems about this last week?

My usual answer is "I don't know why we need NATO now that the Cold War is over. Bush I promised Gorbachev not to expand NATO into the former Warsaw Pact countries. Putin wanted to join NATO. Russia, especially the populous West is more European than Asian. So why don't we have Russia join NATO. Wouldn't that solve the problem?

Amfortas the Hippie , July 22, 2018 at 10:06 am

on talking to democrats. LOL. you and me both. Haldol as a prophylactic, perhaps. The Berners are a lot easier but the "mainstream" dem people have been difficult to talk to for some time too many triggers and blind spots. They've become as reactionary as the tea party.. The aversion to figuring out what we're FOR must be overcome.

... ... ...

Hamford , July 22, 2018 at 6:10 pm

Montanahaven, great post, and I don't know the answer on how to talk to Dems or the general gammit of duopoly supporters, but I have been working on refining a technique I heard Tim Black talking about: "drop a few lines, and walk away". I am working on inserting a few judgment free comments without argument, however it requires patience in listening to the ramble of the other side. A few examples in my recent life:
  1. Hillary Dem: "But Mueller found Russia was hacking. Blah Blah, Blah, 17 intelligence agencies"

    Me: Did you know in 2003 Mueller helped lead us into Iraq and testified before Congress pushing WMD intel. [I did not follow with anything about along the lines of "Is this guy trustworthy."]

  2. Trump Repub: "People are killing each other in the streets, blah blah freeloaders, murder rate going up, blah blah, this country is not the same, what happened to our country"

    Me: "People are desperate, Americans are addicted to opiates and will get it however they can, but someone peddling marajuana will get 10 years in prison, but the Sackler family who wantonly pushed opiates on all of America are worth billions" [I could have argued that American crime rate has gone down since the 80's, but I just wanted to divert their attention to a part of the current problem, not to start an argument]

    A few weeks later these folks repeated these talking points as their own, which is a win in my book. I have been trying to drop stuff as subtly as possible and hope they find their own way. People get more entrenched on their viewpoint while arguing, and more words often means less average impact per word. My sample size is admittedly low right now, so I will continue observation.

Another approach, although it takes a great deal of patience, is to go Socratic and ask the true believers in your circle to provide the support for their views. You may still be stuck with the problem that they regard people like Louise Mensch or Timothy Synder or (gah) James Clapper as unimpeachable.

Of course, not everyone is dogmatic. On my way back to New York, I sat next to a Google engineer (PhD, possibly even faculty member at Cornell since he'd gotten some major grant funding for his research, now on an H1-B visa and on track to have to leave the US in the next year+ due to Trump changes in the program) who held pretty orthodox views. He wanted to chat and we were able to discuss the Dems and even Russia. He even thanked me for the conversation as he was getting off the plane. But I knew I was lucky to find someone who wasn't deeply invested in his views, or perhaps merely not invested in winning arguments.

Any further tips or observations would be helpful to everyone. Things will only get more heated as the midterms approach.

MassBay , July 24, 2018 at 6:25 am

Nice comments. It is all about ego. Most of us become invested in our own position and will not surrender, because it is OURS!!

Quanka , July 24, 2018 at 8:25 am

This is true. This is why I like Hamford's idea of information nuggets. You have to let people think you are on their side while they come around to your ideas more or less on their own. If you give someone a good nugget that they take in as their own, then you have more leverage to convince them of something grander.

And listen. Just listen. You don't have to agree with people to give them time and space to be heard. They are more likely to reciprocate if you do.

ScottS , July 24, 2018 at 12:14 pm

Letting people "talk it out" works for strangers and acquaintances. They'll eventually run out of road or realize they've monopolized the conversation and give you a chance to react, even if only out of politeness.

I find closer friends and family will chew your ear off mercilessly, and once they start, you're trapped. If you start poking holes in their beliefs after they've gone on for a while, they'll feel betrayed. I find it best to say "that's nice" and walk away to maintain your sanity. Don't mess with tribalism, you'll always lose.

David Miller , July 24, 2018 at 6:31 am

Ha ha these posts resonate with me – my mother is a committed Rachel Maddow watcher and my best friend is a Trump supporter.

And both of them are otherwise very nice people and rather similar in terms of personality, interests, and outlook aside from red team/blue team foolishness.

What I like to do with both of them is use the term BushBamaTrump. And at the slightest bit of pushback just jump right in to all the things that have been done more or less the same under all three. It never gets through and you really can't change people, but still. Gives me a bit of pleasure to at least throw a little wrench into their silly partisan blinkered world view

notabanker , July 24, 2018 at 8:26 am

If you can't shift out of the partisan mentality, then all hope is really lost. My brain just does not compute this way and I find it really hard to understand how someone else's does.

I find it difficult to break this construct without coming off as arrogant or cynical. I readily admit this feature in myself could be a bug.

hemeantwell , July 24, 2018 at 8:31 am

jump right in to all the things that have been done more or less the same under all three

Yes. Even though disagreements appear to be about issues, there's an underlying personal partisanship that often drives conversational breakdown. This is particularly true for people on the right. Saying early on that Hillary was an awful alternative to Trump can lower the temperature considerably. Going on to talk about issues and staying away from Trump bashing is a follow through.

Amfortas the Hippie , July 24, 2018 at 6:47 am

Hamford's approach is one that I have used with the people I live around(supermajority Repubs, altho much of that is habit and/or single issue apathy is the only growing demograph)

Introducing doubt, "short, sharp shock", and then they worry over it for a day or a week, and later they seem to have incorporated it into their weltanshauung.

That is, indeed, a win.

I've much more experience, given my habitus(central texas wilderness) with culture jamming and otherwise undermining the orthodoxy of republicans. To talk about important things with them, one must avoid numerous trigger words that cause salivation or violent conniptions.

Finding these rhetorical paths has been enlightening, to say the least. like talking about unionism by using the Chamber of Commerce as an example, or playing on their own memories of the Grange or the Farmer's Co-Op or even going directly at the cognitive dissonance, as in "hey, wait a minute if we have freedom of religion, aren't I by necessity free to be a Buddhist?"

Similarly, I've found that using the language of Jesus gets results, unless my interlocutor is too far gone into the whole warrior Christ thing. I'm still working on how to do this with Team Blue.

Like with the R's, the D's have an emotional attachment, and a psychological need, to avoid believing that their party is in any way less than pristine and above board.

Similarly, I remember a discussion of the Puma's (Hillary's 08 supporters) wherein they were so caught up with Herstory(!) that an attack on (or even criticism of) Hillary was an attack on their Identity.

Stages of Grief applies the acceptance we wish for is a big step for most people, because the manifest problems are so huge and complex and intertwined that acknowledging them feels like giving in and even giving up.

It's a big problem, and I thank you for addressing it.

The forces arrayed against civil discourse are huge and well funded(which is, in itself, a sort of indictment and indicator)

Newton Finn , July 24, 2018 at 10:45 am

Speaking as a member of the clergy, I have a suggestion about how to use the teachings of Jesus to reach Team Blue, whether or not they subscribe to Christianity in some form.

One of the most radical of Jesus' teachings, one that is often given lip service but is extremely difficult to put into practice, is the commandment that we love our enemies and pray for them.

I have come to believe that the Russiagate attacks on Trump are driven not by reason but by pure hatred, a sin which always blinds. While there are many reasons to oppose much of Trump's policies and actions, we must not allow ourselves to wallow in personal hatred of the man himself. If Jesus doesn't work here for some of Team Blue, MLK, who taught the same message, is an excellent alternative. Take away the visceral hatred of Trump, and he will be opposed, much more reasonably, ethically, and effectively.

Michael Fiorillo , July 24, 2018 at 11:44 am

I agree: whenever possible, Trump the individual should be ignored, since too many people seem unable to separate the man from the systems, processes and interests in play.

When it's all about Trump, he wins. You'd think people would have realized that by now, but take a look at Alternet, where it's literally "All Trump All The Time," and you see how trapped in their fears and illusions liberals are.

As Lambert and others insist, make it about issues and policy; that's how people can (eventually, hopefully) be reached over time. As the saying goes, they lose their minds in crowds/herds, and will only regain their sanity one at a time.

The added benefit is that ignoring Trump's provocations goes a ways toward depriving him of oxygen. Ignoring him is one of the few ways to drive him crazy(er), takes away much of his effectiveness, and provides the personal satisfaction of being able to do something against him, even if just passively.

readerOfTeaLeaves , July 24, 2018 at 12:06 pm

I'm really hopeful that Michael Hudson's upcoming book on the roots of Christianity will open up a whole new conversation for people of all views, particularly the role of debt and 'what we owe to one another'. Or when we should, and what we shouldn't, owe one another.

IMVHO, Trump is the apotheosis of a debt-based form of greed, which conventional politics mostly exalts and exacerbates, but doesn't seem to really understand -- and papers over its social costs [see also: FoxNews, CNBC]. In this form of (leveraged) debt, the debtor owes absolutely nothing to society, irrespective of the social dislocations that his/her debt creates.

I find that people who get caught up in Dem/Repub conflicts are unreachable on political terms, but if the conversation shifts to economics, to outrage at financial shenanigans, to who 'owes' what to whom, the emotional tone shifts and the conversations are much more engaged.

The R's that I know tend to affiliate with 'lenders', but have an abhorrence of debt. They seem weirdly incapable of grappling with the social and political implications of debt. To them, debt is a sign of weakness. I find myself struggling to grapple with their worldview on the general topic of 'debt'.

The D's that I know tend to at least be able to think about debt as a means to an end: an education, a home, a business idea. But they seem to experience debt as a form of guilt, or powerlessness, a lot of the time. The people in my life who fall into this category are very careful with money, but they are also capable of carrying on a conversation about social meaning of debt.

I don't think it is any accident that the two most articulate, informed voices in current politics are on the 'left', and their expertise and focus is on debt: Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. I suspect that is because debt is one of the most fundamental social-political-cultural issues of our time.

ambrit , July 24, 2018 at 6:50 am

I do come across as a bit of a nutter, and bloodthirsty to boot. However, in my defense, I am increasingly encountering extremism as the base line for discussions, really arguments, in my daily encounters. This comes from both ends of the political spectrum. This I perceive as a sign of desperation.

The Third Way 'faux left' movement is running out of steam as the inequality that it was designed to enable takes hold, and disenchants those that the movement required to at least be neutral in order for it to do its 'work.' The Right wing has always cultivated a sense of being oppressed in order to cultivate the sense of 'belonging' to a 'special' and 'chosen' people. I have been called "dirty socialist" and even less salubrious terms so many times, I've developed somewhat of a thick skin to the insult. The problem with that is that those who are doing the insulting are dead serious in their obloquy. This can escalate into actions. Therein lies the rub. the step from verbal abuse to physical abuse must be guarded against and, if encountered, short circuited. Hence, the comment about the probable bad results of trying to crash someone's SHTF refuge.

I have worked with several ex-cons during my work life. Jail is the pressure cooker of power relations for Western society. All the ex-cons said that threats, even when coming from obviously superior physical specimens must be responded to quickly and decisively. As one man put it, "Even if you have to take a beat down. Make the point that you will fight. Once is usually enough. After that, people in jail will leave you alone." Another man related the tale of a small man in prison who was being groomed for 'bitchdom' by a much bigger man. "The big guy poked the little guy in the chest and started to say something. The little guy grabbed the finger and broke it. Then this tiny tornado tore into the big guy. Man! Nobody f -- -d with the little guy again. He was crazy everybody said. Some of the older cons said that he was smart."

It may not be relevant yet, but America certainly does seem to be sliding into a full blown Police State. As such, the etiquette of prison is slowly being imposed on the civil society. Pure power relations are becoming the norm. This manifests in our more genteel disputations.
So, my present reply to people who take me to task for not voting for Her Royal Highness is to say; "Thank you for giving us Trump. Without your gallant efforts, we would have had a decent government, under Bernie." Then, as one of the above comments suggests, I walk away, and make sure our Urban Bug In Bag is ready.

Bugs Bunny , July 24, 2018 at 7:02 am

That is a frightening observation and I believe it is unfortunately accurate. Relations in the workplace certainly have resembled this since 2008. Civil society was next.

ambrit , July 24, 2018 at 6:52 am

Skynet ate a longer comment. Short version: "Thank you for running Hillary so Trump could win."

Brooklin Bridge , July 24, 2018 at 10:01 am

A brilliant compaction. And nice (fascinating being even better desc.) to see the longer version as well. Skynet apparently liked it too.

My poor wife has somewhat 'come around' (been dragged along) because many of the predictions (that I get from NC)seem to materialize in one way or another, but on the flip side we have lost what we thought were real friends (fortunately few), largely because of my inability to shut up (at least I don't do it until asked some hard to get out of question) combined with insufficient command of a given subject – alas, all given subjects it seems.

ambrit , July 24, 2018 at 11:37 am

We do find out who our 'real' friends are when we go a little 'off the reservation' with subjects having a significant emotional content. I have found that I also discover personal biases by observing what subjects being 'rejected' by others give me pain. I have been surprised at some of my personal biases. Don't be too hard on yourself about those things that you need to study more. Everyone has those kinds of subjects. I certainly do. Yesterday's thread on the lowly apostrophe was such a wake up call to me.

ex-PFC Chuck , July 24, 2018 at 6:57 am

It seems to me that the longer the person has supported the Democratic Party the more they are resistant to changing their views. The affiliation comes to resemble that of a football fan to her favorite team. People who've changed their political affiliation over the course of their lives, and especially those who have done so relatively recently, are more open-minded and willing to consider evidence contrary to their current views.

ambrit , July 24, 2018 at 7:10 am

Not to quibble, but your observation takes on the appearance of a 'chicken or egg' problem. As the Political Fundamentalists showed, politics is a long term game. That's one reason that Lamberts comment about the Democrat party and their 'missing' ground game is so pertinent.

Di Modica's Dumb Steer , July 24, 2018 at 10:12 am

Fair enough, Chuck, but I think you might be missing a very important bit: the fact that many people who are otherwise staunch rank-and-file supporters might also have an otherwise invisible breakpoint, or fault line. I say this as a former Dem Party supporter, who did the full song and dance – supported Hillary, supported Kerry before that, and was a total devotee to Obama. I was as tied to the Dem party as anyone not getting a paycheck could be, and when Obama won, I was elated. I thought that things would really change.

The Financial Crisis was a rude, rude awakening. The pretty speeches meant little, and did even less. If anyone had a hand in setting fire to my generally moderate viewpoint, it was Obama himself, his worship for Wall Street, and his inability to put up a fight about anything. It was a weird time for me, politically, but 2008-2016 was what set the stage, while the last set of primaries only confirmed what I had felt in my gut for many years.

I think there are many out there, struggling like I did. They'll show. Eventually. I'd say that the famous line about the center not holding applies here, but I'm likely missing a ton of context.

polecat , July 24, 2018 at 11:58 am

My 'turn' was when Nancy P. swiped "impeachment" off the gilded table in 2006, Right • After • The • House • Elections. So, when shortly there after, while listening to Obama give his inaugural address, all I could say was "we'll see ??" . Then came his cabinet appointments, and from then on the d-party lost me with their passive-aggressive "We'll have to $ee what's in it AFTER WE VOTED FOR IT" FU tactics.

Steve H. , July 24, 2018 at 6:58 am

Mediation in kindergarten words: Listen, Talk, Ask, Agree, Write.

Listen is first. Would you expect to walk into any fundamentalist church or mosque and change minds? Conversation among strangers gets more specific along commonalities until it hits a split point, then drops down a level. If nothing in common, there's always the weather. That's universal.

Which blogger was it, trying to change the world when he realized he was only reaching the 5% who thought like he did, & stopped? Think how hard it is to undo economics class learnin' and understand MMT.

Politically, these are not going to be new customers. I can't find number of new voters for AOC, but turnout was less than 1 in 5. She gained trust by knocking on doors. You can't reach the frontal lobes if the amygdala is signalling threat.

If you find points of agreement, you can move the conversation to universal. Then to concrete and material.

ChiGal in Carolina , July 24, 2018 at 8:38 am

This dovetails with hamsher above, whose defiines success as hearing his talking points adopted by those he has dropped them on. The key is to be nonjudgmental .

kimyo , July 24, 2018 at 6:59 am

there are two statements which have worked in my recent exchanges with liberals:
1) Obama has bombed more nations than Bush
2) no one person did more to put donald trump in office than hillary clinton (extreme, indisputable malfeasance against sanders in the primary)

although many seem completely ready to discard 'russian collusion' i still hear 'why is he trying to be friends with putin?' on a regular basis.

any criticism of obamacare is immediately discarded, even though many know someone who has health insurance but doesn't have health care.

i keep trying to argue that democrats are best served if abortion is constantly under threat. that most democratic politicians strongly prefer this situation, as it would otherwise be close to impossible to motivate people to get out to the polls. (or, likewise, republicans and gun rights) so far, this doesn't seem to work.

calling out tesla as a nonsense scam is working pretty well, though. (monorail!)

also, pointing out that new research shows that wifi/cellphone exposure increases miscarriage risk is starting to gain traction. i cringe everytime i see a toddler playing with an i-pad. (obviously not a liberal issue, but it helps to dispel the fog of complacency)

timbers , July 24, 2018 at 7:01 am

Here is my general approach, good or bad towards Hillary "liberal" or establishment think or whatever you may call it. I think it helps put the burden of proof to the fake news'ers

On Russia – the biggest "liberal" fake new angle for years now – I say "Not one single piece of evidence has ever been presented that Russia meddled in the election. Not one single piece. The same agencies that said WMD in Iraq are now telling us Russia meddled. This is Democrat's WMD in Iraq moment."

I ask them to "show me the money" if they can point to any evidence to support the claim Russia hacked. Depending on how much time I have, I can shoot it down (like the click bait social media example that is full of holes) but there is so much non-sense out their I am always up on the latest.

Chris , July 24, 2018 at 7:01 am

Long time NC reader in the DC/Maryland area.

Re: discussing what's happening with people I just gave up. Partially because I couldn't keep calm in the face of being labeled a "white cis gendered Russia loving hate monger." Partially because the medium for debate my friends and I were using was Facebook, which is really not a great tool for serious discussions. Partially because it took so much time and energy and garnered no rewards.

Most of my circle of friends ardently believe the following:

(1) the Democrats are significantly different from the Republicans and suggesting otherwise is lying. This gets you the most violent reactions from most people.

(2) all or most of what Trump is doing is a significant departure from the Obama administration.

(3) withholding votes or voting for other candidates than "electable Democrats" is equivalent to voting for fascists.

(4) US citizens who live in depressed economic areas are to blame for their own problems because they vote against their own interests and won't move to better places.

(5) increased immigration, increased globalism, and free trade agreements like TPP are policies we should support.

(6) Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, etc. are not monopolies and anti-trust law should not be used to break them up.

(7) solutions to inequality in public education should not include busing children from poor areas to wealthy areas. Or vice versa.

(8) our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan must continue.

(9) we need identity politics in this country.

(10) the world would be better off if Hillary was president. P.S. she was robbed by Russians, misogynists, and electoral manipulation from the fascistic Trump campaign.

When I try to mention that all of those points are debatable at best, and admittedly I do that with varying degrees of success, they do not accept it. Any of it. They find discussions of what happened during the Obama administration which either lead to, or was similar to, what Trump is doing now tiring and painful. Mentioning how poorly the HRC campaign was run, how HRC laundered money through local state dem orgs, the wasted millions in consultants, the lack of campaigning in key states, globalism, etc. get you a soulful vomiting of Russia/Misogyny/Fascism. They will ask why you focus on the Democrats, and not the Republicans. It's the Republicans fault we're here and their voters deserve rock suffer.

Humor or analogy doesn't work on this topic either. If you mention something like both parties blame outsiders for their troubles, except Republicans blame people from Mexico and Democrats blame people from Michigan, you get angry stares. If you mention both parties want to go back in time to a better, safer place, except for Republicans it's an imaginary 1950 something and for Democrats is an imaginary 2006, you'll end up drinking alone.

I realized that the only thing I was doing was aggravating my friends and hurting my cause. They're all too high strung to have discussions. They don't want to consider that the status quo ante that they think was great was only "great" for a select portion of the country. They might have admitted that progressives and leftists weren't happy with the Obama administration in 2016. They have no space for that kind of thinking now. So I logged out of FB and Twitter, deleted the apps and spend the time doing other things. I will talk to people about this stuff if they're interested and if it's in person. I stop when I see their body language shift to 'uncomfortable.'

The other thing I've been doing is working to support local candidates who believe in th kind of policies I want to see in my community. I think that's a much better way to use my time and political energy.

Good luck to anyone who wants to try and fight this battle with words. No one is reading or listening anymore. They just want red meat and a torch to join their preferred mob. And with what's happening if you post something a boss or other person finds objectionable, I strongly recommend the virtues of self censorship and keeping your mouth shut until this time passes.

Marshall Auerback , July 24, 2018 at 9:19 am

"being labeled a 'white cis gendered Russia loving hate monger'" Welcome to the club!

Shane Mage , July 24, 2018 at 9:27 am

Please. When mentioning Facebook bots, *always* put the scare quotes about the word "friend."

Chris , July 24, 2018 at 11:02 am

These were all people who I know and associate with off line. What surprised and saddened me was that they couldn't leave an argument behind.

I can leave an FB discussion on FB. I have other topics to discuss when I'm with my friends. They can't do that anymore.

It was that fact more than anything that lead me to believe there was no benefit in trying to post articles or participate in social media discussions. No one is listening. Everyone in my socal circle is feeling too raw to have measured discussions about how we got here and where we could go next.

flora , July 24, 2018 at 11:29 am

I've experienced the same from long time friends or who I thought were friends. For months after the election all they could talk about was 'Hillary was robbed.' I let them vent because it seemed like a grieving time for them. After six months or so, when they still could not talk about anything else even if I tried shifting the conversation to family or gardening or something, then I knew they were caught up in more than grieving. I'm starting to wonder if this is the fury of people who suspect they've been conned and are determined to prove they were not conned. 'The most qualified candidate ever' was a terrible campaigner.
From 2016:

My outlook now is that people determined to prove they were not conned then will need to find their way back to calmness.

flora , July 24, 2018 at 11:39 am

adding: she couldn't turn out the vote. simple as that. imo. but not something people who are determined to prove they were not conned want to hear.

Arizona Slim , July 24, 2018 at 11:40 am

In Roger Stone's book, The Making of the President 2016 , there was a passage about people, many of them on the left, who view those who disagree with them as truly evil people.

What comes next explains a lot about what we've seen since the election. Quoting Stone:

"This is a very immature worldview that produces no coping skills."

Hence, the meltdowns that go on and on and on

christy , July 24, 2018 at 7:01 am

Yes! Plz someone tell me a way to discuss immigration at the border and separating families. The word on the street that 10k of those 12k children being separated were ACTUALLY being 'trafficked' and WITHOUT their REAL parents in the first place.

There are a lot of Dem Nuts on facebook that harrassed the heck out of me and since I posted #walkaway, as an astute BERNIE supporter, this has SHOCKED many and I been unfriended 5 times.

8 million MISSING children and our FBI has only reunited/found 526?

Someone plz tell me wth?

marym , July 24, 2018 at 8:56 am

Please don't post such serious charges about trafficked children without sources. As far as I know not even the Trump administration in its own defense is claiming to have identified trafficked children at those levels.

I'm going to try to put together a comment later today about what we know of the current situation, the need to understand what was happening pre-Ttrump, and what may be happening to the children now after separation. It will probably be on the links thread, as it's not directly related to the coping issue of this thread.

Carla , July 24, 2018 at 10:02 am

Thank you, marym. Hope I can find your comment later.

christy , July 24, 2018 at 7:10 am

Joker Hitler Burgler Spy This is how he does it.

fresno dan , July 24, 2018 at 7:40 am

So, I made the below comments in today's LINKS. But I will emphasize a different aspect here – in the Links comment my point was the reporter was wrong (about Obama representing the 1% – I think he did). Here my point is that she enforces dogma and insinuates disloyalty in any heretic.

fresno dan
July 24, 2018 at 7:25 am
Why So Many Reporters Are Missing the Political Story of the Decade Washington Monthly. Versailles 1788.

Frankly, someone needs to tell this guy (i.e., Bernie Sanders) to sit down and shut up for a while. Reinforcing the notion that a party that was led by Barack Obama for eight years has merely been representing the one percent contributes to the divide and reinforces Republican lies.
party that was led by Barack Obama for eight years has merely been representing the one percent
BESIDES believing that Obama DIDN'T represent the 1%, I'm sure this reporter believes:
1. The earth is flat
2. Elvis is alive
3. The living head of John F. Kennedy is kept at the CIA
4. There are 2 Melania Trumps
5. that Hillary got more white women voters than Trump .
other examples are welcome

Amfortas the Hippie , July 24, 2018 at 8:29 am

on that inability to confront the less stellar record of Obama: it's the same process that happened(and is happening, I'd argue) on the Right .and that happens, over and over, when science chips out another block in the wall of religious certainty.
Fear of the disenchantment of having been wrong, or fooled they'll resist tooth and claw from admitting being descendants of apes .even when they feel/know in their secret hearts that it's true.
With the Dems(non-Berner subspecies), it's acute right now.
They must defend the paradigm at all costs, because to do otherwise is to open the door to a frightening and incomprehensible world that would demand their attention and resolve. For so long, the ire was safely directed at the Right it's their fault we can't have nice things, they are a regressive existential threat, omgomgomg. This is rendered tolerable by the belief that the Dems are their team, on their side and the polar opposite of the hateful Right.
This latter set of assumptions was thrown into existential even ontological doubt by numerous reports, surveys and even by plain old look-out-the-window observation.
The belief and the Reality couldn't be reconciled(America is not already great for a whole bunch of folks) and the Nature of the newly perceived Reality was so ugly, and so huge, that they recoil into paradigm defense.
a giant edifice of bullshit is inherently unstable, it turns out.

The challenge, as I see it, is to acknowledge that the Way We Do Things is falling apart, and that it should fall apart, if we really believe all the high minded rhetoric we perform to each other and then to try to figure out what system/paradigm we'd like to replace it to use the chaos and destruction of the trump era to our advantage.
So more and more, in lib/dem/prog* social spaces, I'm asking "what are we for?"

(* the confusion of tongues here is both instructive and disheartening and encouraging(!). asking folks to define such things is resulting in less fury and spittle and froth, and more with either silence or thought and honest questioning. at least in my little circles )

fresno dan , July 24, 2018 at 11:37 am

Amfortas the Hippie
July 24, 2018 at 8:29 am

I can't beat what notabanker said:
July 24, 2018 at 8:26 am
If you can't shift out of the partisan mentality, then all hope is really lost. My brain just does not compute this way and I find it really hard to understand how someone else's does ..
"Independent" self sufficient Americans .join groups called political parties that as a rite of passage evidently require the adherents to believe idiotic, inconsistent things.
But another thing is that the number of people who even belong to political parties isn't that great. But they set the agenda.

It would be great if the one group of unthinking believers cancelled out the other group of unthinking believers, but of course the adherents are so blind to reality that that can't see that the difference between Bush's Goldman Sachs' Treasury Secretary and Obama Goldman Sachs' Treasury Secretary is .????
NOW, of course there were real differences between Obama and Bush .Obama droned a LOT more.

Colonel Smithers , July 24, 2018 at 7:53 am

Thank you, Yves and the community. This situation applies in the UK, too. It's amazing to meet people who took time off to protest against Trump, but won't against homelessness or austerity.

PlutoniumKun , July 24, 2018 at 11:59 am

Yes, the Irish media used to be moderately independent, but they are getting in line too. Over the weekend I nearly threw my copy of the Irish Times away in disgust at reading some of the articles from writers I'd consider pretty clear minded normally. They are just gradually absorbing the message by osmosis I think.

When someone here rants about Trump, I usually say something like 'well,what exactly has he done thats worse than anything Obama did to, say for example, Libya, or Honduras?' I'd love to say I get a thoughtful response, but thats rarely the case. Interestingly, I find that its the people who profess themselves as non-political or don't read the newspapers much who are more open to discussion.

Watt4Bob , July 24, 2018 at 8:15 am

I'm sure that a lot of NC readers have, over time, experienced some amount of pain associated with the dissolution of long-held beliefs surrounding the American dream, and faith in our economic, and political systems abilities to ' self-correct '.

It's been very painful to realize that ' things ' are not going to get better if we simply vote for the other team.

Over many decades, both the ' other teams ' have pointed fingers at each other and invited us to believe that our problems originated on the other side of the fence, when in reality, as many of us now understand, our two political parties have all the while, worked in collusion to forward the interests of the rich and powerful, the result of which has been wide spread, and extreme economic hardship for most of us.

This failure of our politics has engendered a wide spread visceral hatred of our leadership class, that so far, has remained loosely in the control of the two political parties, but, and I think this a good thing, there is a dawning understanding among a significant number of us, that the hatred of Hillary, and her party, is well deserved, and rooted in exactly the same reality as the hatred of George 'W', and his party.

All that hatred of the political parties and their leadership has so far, resulted in Trump, which in an odd sense is evidence supporting optimism that the two parties strangle-hold on our lives is not invincible, and that there exists a wide-spread thirst for change.

I think that thirst for change is the point where we have an opportunity to make conversation fruitful, and find common ground.

fresno dan , July 24, 2018 at 11:45 am

July 24, 2018 at 8:15 am

I'm sure that a lot of NC readers have, over time, experienced some amount of pain associated with the dissolution of long-held beliefs surrounding the American dream, and faith in our economic, and political systems abilities to 'self-correct'.

It's been very painful to realize that 'things' are not going to get better if we simply vote for the other team.
I don't know how many times I have heard that voting for a third party is "throwing your vote away"
REALITY, that voting for a democrat* or a republican is throwing your vote away, never seems to sway anyone.
* maybe there are individual democrats that are worth voting for, but that is usually due to some screw up by the party apparatchiks

festoonic , July 24, 2018 at 8:34 am

I wonder, sadly, if "engaging with liberals" might be, in fact, a lost cause. Struggling to find common cause with the delusional amidst the collapse of empire, environmental catastrophe, and financial ruin might not be the best use of limited resources. There's a guy running for local city council whose campaign I intend to work for, and anyone campaigning on Medicare-for-All (free at the point of care, of course!), a minimum wage humans can live on, and anything else beneficial to people who work for a living will get my jealously-guarded vote. But the rest looks more and more like the re-arranging the proverbial deck chairs.

macnamichomhairle , July 24, 2018 at 8:39 am

I also think that this is not the time to try to argue. Many people (liberals) seem to have been shocked to their core by Clinton's loss and the arrival of the barbarians. The world has come unhinged, it appears to them.

That is a deeply unsettling feeling that can induce a deep distress and panic. I think it's also new to most liberals because things in America had proceeded pretty much sensibly, even during the Bush years. Also, I suspect many are at a stage in life when they have settled their own sense of their lives on a platform of comfort with the status quo as personified by the liberal consensus; or they are deeply committed ideologically for other reasons of self-identity.

The liberal establishment everyday is whipping the flames of people's panic and resulting outrage, and has created a huge firestorm. The "resistance" gives people a way to make sense of the world again. They will hold onto the "resistance" with all their power because admitting that the "resistance" is in any way flawed throws them back into a chaotic world. So any argument about this stuff derives from a deep place and is not conducive to reasoning. You threaten them, if you try to take away their "resistance" bear.

I also think it is better to put energy into other things, like building positive political movements or structures of life that extend "under" the current debate. (If you go down below general political buzz words, you can sometimes find agreement across political barriers.)

I still make general comments non-locally, but I do not engage with people individually about this. It's useless right now.

Eric , July 24, 2018 at 8:41 am

IMO, these factors contribute to the problem:

Some additional tribes: Wall St bankers, corporate CEOs, police, teachers, Congress, your town, your state, sports fans, etc.

GeorgeOrwell , July 24, 2018 at 8:41 am

Very relevant commentary to which I can completely relate. I had to leave a certain FB group because it became increasingly apparent that these mostly PhD, higher education types were not really interested in being the resistance or fighting fascism. No, what they really want is a safe space/echo chamber in which they can whine about everything that has gone to shit while completely ignoring how they themselves and the 'Democrat' party facilitated said shit's construction. The level of cognitive dissonance was simply mind boggling.

No rational thought about how going along to get along contributed to the current situation, that the lesser of two evils still gets you to the same destination. My working theory is they suffer from social detachment disorder due to their comfortable government (many tenured professors) jobs. As I attempted to explain to one of them, the economic damage created by the policy responses following the GR directly contributed to the door opening for Trump or something like him. These PhD types seem to be completely willing to overlook the social injustice of the Obama tenure, growth of the surveillance state, economic monopolies etc.

Many of these people have not had to worry about a paycheck for some time, thus the complete disconnect from the realities of the current economy. They talk a good game about fighting for social & economic equality, but when push comes to shove many of them are willing to throw their working neighbor under the bus so they can keep their comfortable (not rich mind you) tenured positions and lifestyles. If nothing else, the level of cognitive dissonance in this group certainly made me think about tenure from a much different perspective. Certainly not an encouraging picture of higher ed for sure.

TroyMcClure , July 24, 2018 at 10:45 am

Thomas Frank has repeatedly pointed out that credentialed professionals were the most reliably Republican voting block in America for decades. Now they're firmly democrat. Did their politics/interests change? Doubtful

The decades-long purge of any hint of leftists from the American university system (which started right here in California in the 50's then spread out) has led to our extremely conservative tenure class of professors.

I've had the same experience with these credential class types. Their politics are uniformly anti-labor and elitist. There's no convincing them.

jrs , July 24, 2018 at 11:37 am

I think that it is seldom clear in discussions what differentiates credentialed class from not. Just a bachelors degree? Bachelors degree attainment is over 30% now among young people. They are luckier than many who don't have the degree, but with every white collar job wanting a bachelors degree (often for fairly lowly work that didn't used to) and with a bachelors degree no guarantee of anything (nope not even that white collar job) I'm not sure its all that. (BTW I don't have a bachelors degree, but I'm in no good shape economically at all, if I had a degree maybe I'd be allowed to live, that is all .. so I consider it but without illusion at 40 something).

I think what really protects people's jobs etc. is licensed professions (lawyers, doctors, CPAs, landscape architects etc.) and in some cases those requiring post-bachelors attainment including years of additional training (physical therapists etc.). Well and unionization in the public sector obviously and tenure in academia.

jrs , July 24, 2018 at 11:23 am

it's not in their class interest to care, well the tenured ones, the adjuncts it depends on who they identify with, with the working class or with the tenured ones whose life they can't get anyway.

The average office worker would be more likely to care, although usually not political, and though they usually pretend otherwise, and though they are taught to sympathize with the bosses, there is a chance they might at some level ultimately know the are pawns in a game that they don't control and that can eat them alive (unlike those protected with tenure).

TroyMcClure , July 24, 2018 at 11:39 am

Ask the professors at Vermont Law School, 75% of whom just had tenure stripped unceremoniously. It's coming for them all. I give it less than 10 years. These tenured types total lack of solidarity within their group or any other will finally come home to roost.

My dear friend has been slogging through the trenches of the adjunct lifestyle for the better part of a decade and it's only now at this late date starting to dawn on him that he'll never get regular work at the university. Those waves and easy smiles from tenured faculty hid what they were thinking all along, "Better you than me pal!"

David , July 24, 2018 at 8:45 am

Not my country, but this is less a question of talking to "liberals" (who have their own problems) than of talking to conspiracy theorists. All over the world, certain groups of people are finding that history has suddenly, in the last few years, veered off in directions it has no right to. Since they refuse to believe they are responsible, however distantly, and since they seek, as we all do, simple explanations for complex problems, it must be a conspiracy. And anyone who questions the existence of a conspiracy is by definition part of it.

Because conspiracy theories serve essentially emotional and ideological purposes, rational discussion is by definition useless, and studies show that pointing out that people are factually wrong actually makes them more likely to cling to their beliefs.

I'd recommend a site which discusses and dissects conspiracy theories (, and which has discussion threads on how to argue with conspiracy theorists.

Darius , July 24, 2018 at 8:47 am

I was a Keynesian. I thought that meant the same as being a Democrat. Obama cured me of that mistake. Now, I'm in the Modern Money camp. Explaining that to paygo liberals is an even bigger chore.

Jeff N , July 24, 2018 at 10:33 am

Yes, although I've found that when I simply explain basic MMT concepts to either repub or dem friends, I come across as non-political. Because neither dems or repubs support it.

And I gain instant credibility/solidarity with them when I agree with their knee-jerk reaction that state/local governments ARE constrained.

Carolinian , July 24, 2018 at 8:59 am

Americans, who pretend to fetishize individualism, are conformists

That's spot on. Perhaps it has to with out lack of a set class structure which makes people socially insecure. Plus the rise of the meritocracy means that the worse thing you can call someone these days is "stupid" meaning uneducated. Life experience gets little credit at a time when knowledge has been overly formalized.

However we can take some comfort in a history where periods of intense conformity such as the 1950s provoke periods of more liberated thinking as in the 1960s. Things do seem to be changing–hopefully not for the worse. Patience with those vehement NYT and WaPo readers may be necessary until the fever breaks.

Amber Waves , July 24, 2018 at 9:02 am

My concern is that we have a poisoned public space, as it is hard to find the facts in the press or the body politic. Hard to find common ground to discuss or solve problems. I think our democracy, what is left of it, is in deep trouble. I agree that we need to talk to our neighbors about issues of the day. It is hard to overcome the do not talk about politics meme of the last 30 years.

Utah , July 24, 2018 at 9:02 am

I try really hard these days to talk about the system. Trump is a product of the system that we created and we need to change to better everyone.
I try to be compassionate above all else. Trump supporters are not evil or selfish. They believed the lies of someone telling them he was going to save jobs. We, as a nation, believed the lies of Obama's "hope and change" and it got us nowhere except a little more hopeless. Its not about political affiliation. Its about the world oligarchs having entire control. I refuse to be divided by what they want me to be divided by.

Brooklin Bridge , July 24, 2018 at 9:10 am

A fascinating and often painful subject. Being mostly a dismal failure in my own attempts, I've been keenly interested in and come up with several 'types' (hardly exhaustive) that seem gifted with varying degrees of success in communicating though I'm not sure about convincing others. Making others sit up and think (I should say 'having that effect' rather than 'making') might be as far as most in this select group will ever get but I strongly suspect such exchanges can ultimately be very powerful (meaning the 'other' will almost always do the changing of pov, or the expansion of understanding, under their own steam and in their own time).

Trite as it may seem, those who have a strong core of honesty, or who always tend to gravitate toward truth, have the most success in the above. They are the ones who seem to make headway under the most ridiculously difficult or impossible conditions. That they often have a strong command of their subject seems (to me) to be a natural outcome of the affinity for truth rather than truth being a result of knowledge breadth. They aren't always likeable but are often admirable.

After that, there are the 'warm intellectuals' and note that this categorization does not preclude honesty. My father was such. He had a way of making all present feel welcome and valuable despite the intricacy of the discussion. One usually had to ferret out his opinions or his 'take' on something as he rarely made an issue of it. But his conversation and 'presence' always made fairness and decency seem cool; the natural order of things, and I know for a fact he had a profound influence on at least some people – some hard core ones as well.

The ability to bend and compromise for a greater good (or in some cases for another purpose) is yet another 'type' who I see as potentially having considerable power in their exchanges with others. I see them as having emotional energy and an ability to see through the 'facts' or to 'suspend' them for a period. This is obviously a tricky – perhaps flawed (although in reality they are all flawed) – category, home to intellectuals inclined toward the Machiavellian as well as do-gooders quickly judged and relegated -not always justly- to the lot of suck-asses, and I image it has mixed results. It includes but is not the sole domain of those with the facility to put themselves in anther's shoes (and occasionally get lost in so doing).

I am only describing those who can influence others of extreme or highly contrary positions and beliefs, not the relatively larger group who can be eloquent in their own right but are not of note in dealing with made-up minds. Since we are all banging about under varying degrees of illusion , the truly or profoundly successful ambassador, along with his/her close cousin the successful negotiator, even the mundane every-man commenting on a blog or at a social gathering that provokes others to reassess, is a rather unusual individual indeed. That there is some preponderance of such individuals on NC does not contradict the rarity in general.

Perhaps just a very long winded way of saying, "Don't be too hard on yourself."

Brooklin Bridge , July 24, 2018 at 9:38 am

What I meant to say in the last sentence is, "I won't be too hard on myself ", but put in the general form while thinking of it applying to me. I don't presume to give others such advice (though I imagine it holds for others as well ).

Also, since the process of changing or simply being influenced, always takes time, it is almost impossible to see or assess; an unhappy circumstance for those who try at it rather than let it be an outcome..

Bite hard , July 24, 2018 at 9:11 am

Arguing with entrenched people is a lost cause but sarcasm = mercilessly tearing right into their own hypocrisy does the work of shaming them for a while, especially if you make the point about a topic they are virtue signalling about. These people do not have a policy idea in mind, they are pure virtue signallers.

Sarcasm is not to be confused with irony, which allows people to react mildly along "ha, ha, ha, oh my, what a world we live in". You can always escape from irony but a good, hard sarcasm put the moral dilemma right out there and people cannot escape their own crap poorly founded opinions.

danpaco , July 24, 2018 at 9:23 am

Political talk has really become a competition as opposed to a conversation. If the conversation decends into competition I'll try to ask "are there are any rules to this game?". When all else fails, go Socratic. Their answers can be enlightening.

Skip Intro , July 24, 2018 at 9:24 am

I think it can be effective to do a virtual cannonball into the kiddie pool of their belief system. Like Maddow squared but willing to connect the dots.

'Of course the Russians put Trump in, but the whole hacking story is part of a scam and a distraction. There's barely a connection between the leaked emails and the election results. They are a sideshow to get Assange. No, the real story is that the Russians had a high level operative inside the DNC. That's how the emails leaked. That is why the campaign was diverted away from Wisconsin, for example, in favor of Arizona. It is why the campaign pulled strings to get airtime for Trump during the GOP primary. It is why the DNC relied on bad software models and ignored experienced campaigners. Heck, it is why the DNC ran Hillary, even though she was over 43% animatronic by the end of the primary.'

Then you reveal that the mole is Mook.

The more facts you can weave into an acceptable narrative, the more secret landmines you can slip into their bubble, until the critical mass of cognitive dissonance causes a rupture

ambrit , July 24, 2018 at 11:58 am

Watch out for the response being a psychotic break. I have had that happen when I got too carried away with 'weaponized humour' in my arguments.
I mean not just angry outbursts directed in my direction but actual punches. These times are becoming physically dangerous.

William Hunter Duncan , July 24, 2018 at 9:24 am

I will generally, when I encounter a true believer Left or Right, let them get comfortable, agreeing with their critique of the Other until they say something grotesquely hypocritical or patently false or deranged, and then I will call out the hypocrisy/bs by way of pointing to it in their own party, then segway into something like 'MSNBC is part of the DNC, CNN is mockingbird CIA/DEEP STATE, and FOX is Rupert Murdoch's geriatric limp dick. Sometimes I call myself an anarchist, because I am liberal about some things and conservative about others and hypocrisy sucks. Wtf are Americans left and right going to pull their heads out of their buttz and realize the country has been gutted and the people put in debt servitude to globalist corp, bank, billionaire and eternal profiteering war/surveillance machine? Oh, and capitalism looks like a death cult if you are a pollinator or an ecosystem, so wtf about your bloody party ."

Which rant I can sustain as long as the person can hear it. Sometimes with liberals though I just ask why they think Hillary would have been a better president, and they usually realize at some point they have tied themselves in knots.

voteforno6 , July 24, 2018 at 9:26 am

One quibble: It should be "Russia!Russia!Russia!", not "Russia!Russia!" – it makes the Jan Brady jokes a little funnier.

Anyway, with some people, I'm not sure if people should really be trying to "talk to" liberals, with the intent of changing their minds. I remember similar discussions going on in Daily Kos around 2006 or so, but there they discussed how to "talk to" conservatives, or people in rural areas, or "low information voters," as they liked to call them. It does seem a little condescending – some people believe what they believe, and you're not going to be able to argue them out of their positions. As macnamichomhairle posted above, the election of Trump really seems to have caused a psychic break in certain segments of society. I'm not sure if agitating them any further would really be that helpful. It's gotten to the point that I wonder (only half-jokingly) if Trump Derangement Syndrome will be included in the next volume of the DSM.

So, if you want to argue with people about something, make it sports. It seems that Americans are much more civil and mature when it comes to arguing about that topic. That is, unless they're from Philadelphia.

Arizona Slim , July 24, 2018 at 11:44 am

From Philadelphia? Whatsa matter with that?

Says Slim, who was born in Pittsburgh and raised outside of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

fresno dan , July 24, 2018 at 11:52 am

vidimi , July 24, 2018 at 9:28 am

thank the lord i don't live in the united states.

when facing russia! putin! arguments, i usually retort with a big "i don't care" and paraphrase Mohammed Ali: "ain't no vladimir putin ever set the middle east on fire and crash the global economy".

Newton Finn , July 24, 2018 at 11:11 am

Utter genius line.

Arizona Slim , July 24, 2018 at 11:45 am

Me? I use these arguments as an opportunity to practice my Russian language skills.

Carolinian , July 24, 2018 at 10:10 am

Caitlin Johnstone has a column on how to respond to the Russiagaters.

pretzelattack , July 24, 2018 at 10:58 am

thanks for that link. the debate is very familiar to me.

The Rev Kev , July 24, 2018 at 10:20 am

At first I was going to suggest using a lead pipe on so-called liberals as a coping strategy but I think that this is too serious to joke about. Think about this. The US midterms take place on Tuesday, November 6, 2018 and only 16 days later you will have Thanksgiving in the US. If you think that people are on edge now can you imagine what it will be like around Thanksgiving tables this year?
Look, it is a real bad idea to tie your identity to any political party. Too much putting your faith in princes here – or princesses too for that matter. I don't think that the US voting system helps either where they want you to register for Party A or Party B which, when you think about it, kinda defeats the purpose of a secret ballet.
If people with phds are drinking the kool-aid and are not using their critical thinking skills, then how can you expect average people to be convinced? I am not sure that you can but what you can do is undermine their beliefs. Don't let them shape the battlefield of argument ('Or course everybody knows Russia did it!') or else it is a losing game. In any case, this whole thing reeks of the old identity game where those in power set two sides to fiercely combat each other while skimming profits all the way to the bank. An example of this? Democrats and Republicans hate each other's guts but when it come time to vote $1.5 trillion to the wealthiest people in the country then it was bipartisan all the way, baby.

Arizona Slim , July 24, 2018 at 11:47 am

My birthday comes shortly after the election. I'm thinking of throwing a party for myself and inviting liberal Democrats, libertarians, Republicans, Greens, independents, and those who refuse to be classified.

It'll be fun!

flora , July 24, 2018 at 12:18 pm

Thanksgiving in the US. If you think that people are on edge now can you imagine what it will be like around Thanksgiving tables this year?

hmmm if the MSM determine too many of the midterm winners are the *wrong* sort of people then watch out for more MSM, Thanksgiving weekend, crazy stories, as in 2016. Properly speaking or not. ;)

vlade , July 24, 2018 at 10:21 am

For a discussion to occur, both sides have to be willing and able to listen. While most people claim both, in my experience especially the latter (able to) is a learned skill which majority lacks (of all bents, not just liberals etc.).

Hence after this was tested, I do not discuss anymore, I rant, if I feel like it.

tokyodamage , July 24, 2018 at 10:27 am

Talk about small, but 'respectably' sourced news stories instead of whatever's dominating the current news cycle – stories where the DNC spokespeople haven't already poisoned the well by telling people "This is your team's official position, there's no need to make up your own mind."

Give the liberal a chance to make up their own mind on the small story. Chances are that they sympathize with the underdog in that story – showing how 'liberals care'.

Then – if you're in the mood – spring the trap:

"You're absolutely right to be concerned about the underdog in [story A]. The compassion -that's why people like liberals! By the way, why do you think that [famous dem spokesperson] doesn't show the same compassion regarding [morally analogous but more mainstream news controversy B]?"

That's all i got.

tokyodamage , July 24, 2018 at 10:32 am

"Russian meddling, eh? That's a scary country. I've been reading about Russia in the 90s. The average life expectancy of the whole country went down by years after the communist government collapsed. Old people dying alone in their apartments from easily treatable illnesses. Yeah, it IS terrible. Yeah it IS disgusting and immoral. Oh by the way, that's around the time they switched to a for-profit medical system like we have. Weird huh?"

Brooklin Bridge , July 24, 2018 at 10:39 am

The inability to talk politics with others of differing views is hardly limited to the US even if it expresses itself in different ways. I have family in France (je suis une piθce rapportιe – in-law) and it's almost identical to the US. As even my wife is somewhat of a 'guest' when we go over now, You simply avoid subjects where you know it could get too hot and so do they among themselves. Things are not at all as cut and dry as they were (at least seemed) back in the late 60's early 70's when students AND workers united massively in common cause.

A few years ago, I had a discussion that turned into an argument with a friend visiting from France who is an economist by training but made his pile (of comfortable not gargantuan size) in real estate. It turned around Jeremy Corbyn with my argument that as long as people are really hurting, social/political/economic justice movements will thrive and often succeed in radical change and his argument that 1) he is an economist and therefore knows what he is talking about and 2) Corbyn is simply unacceptable and unworkable in todays economy , c'est tout!

How horribly frustrating for me not to have a good command of the subject, getting hot under the collar is not a compelling argument, (though I didn't let him get away with the, being an economist, braggadocio), but on the good side, our friendship survived the bout and we holstered our pistols for the rest of their visit.

Eureka Springs , July 24, 2018 at 10:57 am

I find arguments of systemic problems, corruption, absence of actual solutions, divide conquer, class war, rather than D vs R work best.

Ask anyone who has a problem with immigrants why not one politician demands an arrest of a ceo and board members for illegal hiring practices. Put them in jail just for a weekend and things would dramatically change over night. We don't need to cage many thousands of desperate people, just a few greedy ones. Like them or not, quit blaming desperate poor people for crawling through a nasty river and horrific desert to get a crappy job. If the illegal hiring didn't exist they wouldn't come. As for children and adults, once 'we' have them captured, under our control, how they exist is all about us, not them.

And then I shut up. You have to know when to shut up.

At other times I love reminding D's or R's and especially those who are neither, the D's and R's are at best 27 percent of the eligible voters. Independents are far greater in number than they are and 'refuse to vote' for any of them are greatest of all. The D's and R's both have a super majority against them for good reasons which are being ignored at all our peril. That they are not listening, not asking, not representing. They are owned and we are all being played like a two dollar banjo. Fighting for either one of them is exactly what they want and need to keep the con alive.

I keep reminding people this is not professional football, you don't have to watch, much more you are not forced to pick between two teams, please choose neither like most of us are doing because we need an entirely new game. Issues, not personality. Because all owners are always a winner, cashing in, if you do.

Adam Eran , July 24, 2018 at 11:01 am

More generally speaking, there are actually clinical trials of ways to be persuasive. Doctors need this for the difficult patients: the heart patients who don't want to take their meds, the addicts who don't want to quit, etc. It's worth looking up: Motivational Interviewing . The link is to a course offered by Citizens' Climate Lobby, designed to help their members deal with climate change denial.

The key, they say, is forming partnerships. Disagreement can take the form of fights, arguments or partnerships, with only the last providing some prospect for relief.

So providing the "perfect squelch" or putting down one's opponent is the very last thing you want to do. Finding areas of agreement and building on those is the royal road to something more positive.

I've also found some of the worst offenders in the environmental community. These are often former bureaucrats who want to keep the (bankrupt) process in place, but encourage a different outcome. They want to be the "good guys," and judge the environmental "bad guys" rather than make a significant change.

Ah, the human ego! Gotta love it!

Quite Likely , July 24, 2018 at 11:11 am

I tend towards the Socratic approach, both for establishment Democrats and the larger universe of people I disagree with in person. It generally means doing more listening than talking, which I know is a downside for some, but letting people talk things out in front of you with occasional nudges in the right direct does a decent job of moving them gradually in the right direction, and leaves them with an impression of you as a friendly good-listener with whom they have some disagreements rather than that asshole yelling about nonsense.

JohnnyGL , July 24, 2018 at 11:12 am

I'm going to throw out my tips that I've used for years to talk politics in various environments (office, family gatherings, etc).

1) Keep context in mind if you're in the office, keep encounters brief and cordial, couple of news headlines as you breeze by for a couple of minutes. Crack a couple of jokes and try to keep it light. But choose your topics with care, especially if you don't know the person really well.

2) Find common ground: with trumpers you can rail against clintons, obamas, and dem hypocrisy. with clintonites you can talk about how excited you are that Ted Cruz has a real challenge, Paul Ryan's retiring, all the damage Trump is doing to the establishment repubs, etc. Tell them the positive thing about Trump winning is that ALL THE OTHER REPUBS LOST .badly!

3) As far as genuinely changing minds .THESE THINGS TAKE TIME! Some minds aren't open to being changed, some will periodically open and close, and some of us are genuinely trying to figure out WTF is going on in the world (which is why we come to NC!) In any case, minds get changed over weeks and months, not a couple of hours.

4) Understand and remember that you DO NOT have all the answers and think about all things you've changed your mind about over the years and it helps to open minds to SHARE stories with people about what changed your mind and why. If you're not sure why you think what you think, go figure out why! :)

5) Once you've got a certain comfort level, don't be afraid to crack a joke that aggravates the other person, but don't overdo it and don't do a lot of public mocking/shaming.

6) When someone else uses 5) on you, practice to make sure you DO NOT get too mad about it. Get thicker skin, if you can't do it .then you aren't ready to talk politics.

7) Yes, that includes people saying ignorant stuff. That doesn't mean you have to grin and bear it, you don't and you shouldn't. Drop a mild rebuke (no more and no less) and change the subject. Don't ostracize or shame. Keep interacting with people, as much as they want to do so. We've all said stupid $h!t at one time or another, we can and should all be able to forgive/forget. I've certainly said my fair share. But also, people do change their minds over time. It's helpful if you can guide them in a positive direction.

8) Talk about the context in which things happen and put yourself in other people's shoes. This is something I've learned a lot in the last few years and people forget to step back and look at things from a high level. I've been amazed at how much more sense things can make when you think more about context.

marym , July 24, 2018 at 11:34 am

My coping method is mostly avoidance, but if I did intervene it would be something like this:

I agree Trump is ill-suited to the job and has horrible policies.

If Russia (or Russians) interfered with the election, if Trump and his cronies participated in that, or if Trump and cronies had other dealings with Russian that are illegal, Mueller is the right person to figure it out. His whole career has been defending and strengthening the pre-Trump status quo, the "norms" of the military-industrial-corporatist-security complex. If there's a way to push us back in that direction, there may be no one on earth more committed to that job.

Our job is to examine the impacts of current Trump policy, the roots where applicable in those status quo "norms", issues other than Russia that weaken and corrupt our electoral system, failures of centrist Democrat policies to solve problems; and to promote alternative policies and politicians. None of this will be adddressed by any negative Mueller consequences to Trump, and maybe to a few of those around him.

RUKidding , July 24, 2018 at 11:39 am

Whether it's committed liberals (eg, super strong Big D voters) or committed conservatives, there's really not much point in "talking."

I accidentally said something truthful about Trump's/the Republicans' recent tax law, and my super conservative sister launched into a tirade that came right out of Rush Limbaugh's mouth. I hadn't meant to stir the pot, either, and what I said was pretty nothingburger. I let her rant for a few minutes; explained my side very graciously and calmly (mainly that MY taxes have been raised, not lowered as advertised), and then I changed the topic.

I know a very few D voter friends who are starting to pay more attention – it's taken a while but they are – and they're starting to see that Big D is NOT their savior, at least, not as they currently exist. Of course, I have Big D friends who revile Bernie Sanders as the worst of the worst, and they're HORRIFIED that he's a socialist!!!111!!!!! Well, there's nothing to say there.

Mostly if I'm thinking about it, I'll drop in a few salient points – as some other commenters have suggested, above – and then mostly walk away.

The Big Fat Propaganda Wurlizter has done it's job, and HOW. And it's not just about conservatives ranting out the usual Fox/Rush rightwing talking points. Now it's so-called liberals ranting out the latest from, I guess (no tv, never watch), Rachael Maddow and similar.

I can barely ever listen to what passes for "nooz" on NPR, but possibly they get their talking points from there, as well. Some of those talking points now come up regularly in the weekend game shows. I duly noted that "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" had James EFFEN Comey on last weeked. R U Kidding ME???? Of course, I didn't listen.

So, go figure.

Both sides are being heavily brainwashed by our M$M. For me: No TV at all and precious little radio (mostly music stations). And judicious nooz paper reading.

Get my real info at sites like this one.

Thanks to all who comment logically here in reality-land.

timbers , July 24, 2018 at 11:41 am

In general, the way I deal with the liberals, partisan Dems, Hillary crowd or whatever you call it, is in person (I'm not on FB) with this type of statement:

"Not one single piece of evidence has every been presented showing Russia meddled in the election. Not one. We don't even have grounds to investigate such a thing. And what evidence we do have points away from Russia. The same agencies that said WMD in Iraq are now saying Russia meddled in the election, have you learned nothing? Russiagate is Democrat's WMD in Iraq moment."

That usually silences them because they don't have any evidence and some even know that. If they offer "evidence" (like the social media click bait adds) I am usually familiar enough show how silly the examples given are.

meadows , July 24, 2018 at 12:02 pm

I hike regularly w/my buddy who is a 73 year old Nam vet, I am a 65 year old conscientious objector he is blue collar for generations, I am college educated family for generations New Deal Dems forever.

Our concerns in life are the same, the well being of our adult children and grandchildren, our relationships w/our spouses, how to manage our retirements. But Oh do we talk politics! He teases me that I'm a Trumpster because of my deserved critiques of Clinton, Obama and my anger at that gang of liars, as if that means I think Trump and his band of "obligerant" oligarchs are great! (oblivious and belligerent)

The executive branch is a huge about-to-become-extinct dinosaur w/the brain of a tiny reptile, little realizing only the little mammals will survive, while still imagining itself to be king of the place forever.

[Mar 14, 2018] "Never corner your opponent" to the point where they turn back and bite.

Mar 14, 2018 |

luke8929 13 March 2018 at 07:03 PM

In a lengthy TV interview March 11, Putin spoke of an episode of his early years in St. Petersburg when he was chasing a rat from an apartment block house where he lived with his parents.

"So I cornered the rat," Putin recollected, "and it suddenly turned back on me. I was scared and fled all the way back up to my apartment, but the rat continued to chase me."

The lesson Putin said he learned from that incident was, "Never corner your opponent" to the point where they turn back and bite.

[Jun 07, 2017] The Tools of Argument How the Best Lawyers Think, Argue, and Win by Joel P. Trachtman

80 reviews of Amazon.
Jun 07, 2017 |


The best book for any person who wants to understand how ... , February 29, 2016

The Tools of Argument: How the Best Lawyers Think, Argue, and Win (Paperback)

The best book for any person who wants to understand how American Courts work! At times we all ask questions like "How can this criminal get off on technicalities if it is obvious that he/she committed crime?", or "How can this be fair?" or "How can a lawyer defend this "bad guy/girl"? This is totally wrong! He/she is a criminal!" The author explains the difference between law and common sense, law and ethics, understanding of crime in legal terms and in laymen words.The book closely examines the logical reasoning of the law professionals , demonstrating the "tricks" used in court rooms. Fascinating reading!!!

WARNING: the book will not prepare you to go to court and defend your case! This is not a "how-to" manual for folks who are planning to go to court. Hire a lawyer if need be.

However, if you want to learn how to present and defend your point (any point, not just legal issues) as an intelligent and convincing person, this book is for you! Chances are, by the time you are done with debating your next case, your opponents will at least respect your opinion (or hate your guts, which still might give you some satisfaction).

This book is for anyone who wants to boost up their skills in logical persuasion, finding loopholes in opponent's logical reasoning.

Lots of interesting and valuable information for a pretty small price! It is written in a short and clear format: each chapter discusses specific idea, giving examples from court cases and average daily life (parent-child, husband-wife, employee-supervisor), concluding with a practical application summary argument vs. counterargument.

So, no reason to read the entire book from beginning to end. One can just pick any chapter and read about how this or that legal (logical) rule can be applied in daily life.

[Nov 12, 2016] MC MCSE Corporate Speak Dictionary for programmers

Even if you are in a technical position, you may still find yourself dealing with sales people and other corporate types. You may also discover that they speak a different language and use an arsenal of corny phrases that might just give you the hives. This article is a glossary of our 35 favorite terms and phrases.
Aug 08, 2012 |

[Nov 12, 2016] Jargon busters

Jan 01, 2005 |

The obscenity that's corporate jargon is my pet hate. So imagine the response to Hewlett-Packard chief Mark Hurd's spin on the company's decision to lay off 14,500 workers, or one in 10 of its employees. ''The majority of the head-count reductions will be achieved trough involuntary actions," he said in a New York Times report. It was bad enough that sacking someone morphed into ''downsizing'' and ''rightsizing''. Now they're calling it ''involuntary action''.

With his terrific anti-jargon book now hitting the American market, Paul Keating's former speech writer Don Watson has a web site asking people to send in weasel words.

[Aug 14, 2016] More Hillary bullshit

Notable quotes:
"... When GWB came out with "compassionate conservative" this was on my mind. But they had a pretty good handle on happy garbage-speak back in the early 90s too…. ..."
reslez , August 12, 2016 at 7:06 pm

Francis Urquhart : [commenting on the party conference speakers] Michael Samuels – environment. "Intelligent", "sensitive", "caring" – all in the same sentence, I bet you.

Michael Samuels : …That doesn't mean a return to subsistence farming. What it does mean is sensitive exploitation of natural resources, intelligent self-interest to motivate long-term gains in a caring capitalist concept.

Francis Urquhart : Told you.

–House of Cards(1990)

When GWB came out with "compassionate conservative" this was on my mind. But they had a pretty good handle on happy garbage-speak back in the early 90s too….

armchair , August 12, 2016 at 10:27 pm

25 words and phrases is not enough. Some additions.

Streamlining, takeholders, The come to Jesus talk/moment, We're going to eat a plate of dicks on this one [maybe that's just my workplace]

I'm genuinely surprised that streamlining and stakeholder didn't make it. BTW, streams are a mess and stakeholders are vampire killers.

tegnost , August 12, 2016 at 4:12 pm

"….recalibrate their primary message to appeal to aspirational voters across the middle of the political spectrum - independents, college-educated suburban moderates and a substantial slice of Republicans who can't abide Trump"

recalibrate? yeesh, who were they appealing to before now?

dems can…"offer anxious voters a hopeful counterpoint to Trump's fearful narrative - a positive plan for parlaying our country's strengths in technological innovation and entrepreneurship into stronger economic growth that works for all Americans."

Hope is not a plan. Don't you remember pulling that one on us a couple of cycles ago?

next…"But it doesn't speak to the aspirations of middle-class voters who now mostly work in offices, use digital technology to boost their productivity, and understand that their jobs depend both on keeping their skills up to date and on their companies' ability to succeed in global competition."

this describes an ever decreasing slice of the electorate, but does manage to include the word aspirations, which is kind of an airy word, an insubstantial kind of hopey thing

"however, the party's candidates can't sound like Sanders."

no, the left must be kicked.

"According to a Progressive Policy Institute survey, the swing voters who hold the balance of power in key battleground states aren't particularly angry and don't see the economy as rigged against them. They give priority to growth over fairness and are more inclined to help U.S. businesses succeed than punish them. While worried about jobs going overseas, they see trade on balance as good for America. And they don't have much confidence in the federal government, which they believe fails to reward people who work hard and play by the rules."

the traditional republican base.

"They need a plan to attack today's popular discontents at their root - by breaking our economy out of a slow-growth trap that's been holding down wages."
traditional republican thinking

"Although it's easier to blame trade or Wall Street or the 1 percent, slumping productivity growth is the real culprit behind the meager gains in wages and living standards Americans have experienced since 2000"

sure thing will, wasn't it a couple paragraphs back where you were referencing everyone's increased productivity in their office? Wages have not kept up with productivity for many years including the past 8 with a democrat pushing the same agenda you are

"major public and private investments in modern infrastructure"

oh here we go, the ka'ching

"a strong push for advanced materials and 3D printing to keep America in the vanguard of advanced manufacturing;"

um…too much there, but briefly, think of the raw materials you're going to have to have piled up in the garage to match the panoply of alloys metals plastics paper glue and all the rest of it so your 3d printer will do all the thing this offhanded comment is suggesting

"a strategy for digitizing the physical economy and accelerating the "Internet of Things";"

again, but this aspires to even greater ridiculousness

"pro-growth tax reform (including bringing business taxes down to globally competitive levels)"

republican, or really in this case globalist comparative advantage

"systematic lowering of regulatory barriers to innovation and startups"

republican, oh and look it closes with a sop to the losers, isn't that nice

"a robust system of career and technical education to equip workers without college degrees with skills and credentials valued by employers"

valued by employers, yes employers have no reason or incentive to train or keep workers, besides robots self driving trucks etc, how did this aspirationalist message leave that part out?…but this robust system can and likely will load these people up with non dischargable debt, so there's that

Short version

democrats should be more republican

Sorry for the length, but it was a gift that wouldn't stop giving…

Lambert Strether Post author ,, August 13, 2016 at 2:34 am

Yes, wasn't that splendid?

redleg , August 13, 2016 at 11:43 am

Remember that aspiration also means sucking something into your lung that's not supposed to be sucked into a lung.

I think the talk of aspiration is much closer to reality using this meaning.

[Oct 04, 2015] How Not to Be a Networking Leech Tips for Seeking Professional Advice

Sept 26, 2015 | The New York Times

Businesspeople generally think of networking as a mutually beneficial meeting for both parties. But that's not usually what it is. Far more often, it is one person asking the other for a favor.

I have been a management consultant, business owner and speaker for more than 12 years. Before that, I was a business executive and a trial lawyer. Along the way I have received invaluable advice from others - guidance that educated me and helped me make important professional connections. Because this advice has been such a great help to me, I believe in helping others in the same way, without expecting anything in return.

During the course of a year I receive numerous requests from people I do not know, asking me to network. I respond by meeting at least once a week with someone who is seeking advice on their careers or businesses, either in person or on the phone.

In the course of these meetings, I have come across people who fall under the category of what I call "networking parasites." These are people who fail to understand that I am giving them information that my regular clients pay for.

I am not alone in this. Doctors, accountants, plumbers, computer experts, lawyers and financial advisers all must deal with people shamelessly asking for meetings, free advice or free services or treatment - without remotely acknowledging that these professionals make their living selling that time and expertise. Over the years, dozens of experts have told me about being accosted at parties and on airplanes by strangers who ask for a free consultation under the guise of "conversation."

Surely you do not want to be the kind of person who antagonizes professionals in this way. So here are some tips to help you avoid becoming a networking parasite.

Margaret Morford is the owner of the HR Edge, a management consulting firm, and the author of "The Hidden Language of Business."

See More "

A collection of "Preoccupations" columns published in The New York Times.

Coping with Difficult People by Robert M. Bramson
the real difficult person is inside you, March 19, 2003
Reviewer: Haseeb (Tempe, AZ United States) - See all my reviews
Most people have difficulty in dealing with certain personality types. An inability to deal effectively with others can cause very serious problems in morale, job performance and self esteem. It has been said that most problems related to losing one's job has more to do with human relations than with job performance per se. As a person who has been fired many times, I can attest to that statement. I've seen incompetent people keep their jobs, but I've seen several people (myself included) lose their jobs over inter-personal conflicts which seem silly in comparison. The more one is able to resolve and or avoid conflicts, the more successful they will be in the long run.

This book divides difficult people into seven different types namely "hostile-aggressives", "complainers", "silent and unreasponsives", "super-agreeables", "negativists", "know-it-all experts" and "indecisives". Each type of behavior is explained and real-world examples of each in action are given. The forte of the book is how it explains how to cope effectively with each type. In my dealings with others, I've found that the coping advice given is right on target. Chances are, any type of difficult person will fit into one of the aforementioned categories. If not, they will be a variation or a combination of two or more of them. The coping methods given in the book are not always easy to implement because they require a lot of practice and may require a great deal of courage. This isn't a book to just read once, the methods must be studied and practiced if you wish to benefit from it.

One of the most interesting things I've discovered when reading this book is that I have fit into some of the categories of difficult people at times. The more effectively I can learn about and fight my own difficult behavior, the easier it will be for me to deal with others who possess the same traits. Regardless of how much one knows about dealing with difficult people, it can still be a battle to implement the methods given in this book. Therefore, coping with difficult people is not about using some simple trick, it's all about confronting the difficult person within each of us.

Effective Leadership A 22 Question Leadership Test by Colleen Kettenhofen

There's a big difference between just being a team leader, and leading so that people will willingly want to follow you. The real leadership test is influence. For example, what if you were employed with a volunteer organization, and your employees' livelihoods, perks and benefits were not based on whether or not they did what you asked? Would they still do as you say? Do you think they admire, respect and trust you as a role model, mentor and team leader?

Leadership Test: Below are 22 questions to ask yourself about how you are performing as a leader. Do you demonstrate honesty, credibility and competence? You may also want to pass this leadership assessment on to your team. How well are they performing compared with other team members? Consider using this leadership test in performance reviews and for discussions in meetings.

  1. As a team leader, how do I show that I am honest? Do I do what I say I am going to do?
  2. Do I make competence, character and credibility priorities? How?
  3. Do I listen effectively to others with an open mind even when I may disagree?
  4. How do I demonstrate honest yet tactful communication with team members?
  5. Do I demonstrate good people skills, or effective leadership skills with my team?
  6. How am I thoughtful and considerate of others in the department?
  7. How do I demonstrate my vision and the organization's vision in a way that others clearly can understand?
  8. Do employees see how this vision applies to them and to the big picture?
  9. Do I understand my own goals and how they tie in with organizational goals?
  10. Are the company goals and my individual goals specific, measurable and in writing?
  11. How do I take responsibility for my own job?
  12. Am I proactive in taking on or looking for additional responsibility?
  13. How do I tactfully suggest better ways of doing things?
  14. How do I offer ideas for improvement without putting others on the defensive?
  15. Do I show up on time for work and begin work immediately in a way that contributes to the team?
  16. Am I alert and "mentally" present for work?
  17. How do I work to promote better morale with my team and other departments?
  18. How would I grade the overall quality of my work?
  19. Do I complete assignments on time and without being negative?
  20. How do I put forth my best in producing a product or service in which others can take pride?
  21. Have I received leadership training in the area of conflict resolution?
  22. Am I open to leadership training in the areas of personal and professional development? If I've received this type of training, am I applying the skills learned?

Go back and reread the first five questions of this leadership test. As a team leader or manager, how are you demonstrating character, honesty, and credibility? I've found that in conducting leadership training worldwide, these are key characteristics employees want to see for them to willingly WANT to follow their leader. Were you able to answer "yes" to most of the questions? How would other team leaders in your organization score?

Remember, if people know they can trust you, they'll follow you.

"Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without strategy." General H. Norman Schwarzkopf

Thriving practices can often attribute their success to positive work relationships.

When members of a practice trust one another, everyone can perform his or her job more efficiently and effectively.

Practices that value diversity and mindfulness are open to new ideas and appreciate people from various backgrounds.

Each member of a practice should model these characteristics to encourage their systemic development.

Practices should also hold meetings for discussion and reflection to promote understanding and action.

We have observed seven interdependent characteristics of work relationships in successful practices. (To assess your practice's performance in these areas, use the tool below.)

How to get there

Fostering these characteristics of positive work relationships in your practice is not the responsibility of a single person, such as your practice manager. While leadership can play an important role, each member of a practice should be expected to lead by example. Modeling desired behavior is one of the most effective ways to encourage the systemic development of these relationship characteristics.

For example, physicians should treat staff with respect and recognize how their actions affect the rest of the practice. They should make an effort to communicate messages effectively and encourage both social and task-related relationships by being social themselves.

Work relationship assessment form

Plot your practice's performance in these seven critical areas on the continuum below. You may want your colleagues and staff to assess your practice as well, then compare and discuss your ratings. This form can be downloaded as a PDF.


What does it look like?

Where is your practice on this continuum?


• Seeking input from others.

• Allowing others to complete their work without unnecessary oversight.

• Feeling comfortable discussing successes and failures.

| Always | | Sometimes | | Never |


• Including people who have different backgrounds or perspectives.

• Encouraging those who think differently about important issues to share their opinions.

| Always | | Sometimes | | Never |


• Being open to new ideas.

• Talking freely about what is and isn't working in the practice.

• Adjusting routines in response to current situations; not running on autopilot.

| Always | | Sometimes | | Never |


• Being attentive to current tasks as well as larger goals.

• Being aware of individual roles and how they affect other functions and people in the practice.

| Always | | Sometimes | | Never |


• Being considerate, honest and tactful.

• Valuing others' opinions.

| Always | | Sometimes | | Never |

Varied interaction

• Understanding the importance of both social and task-related relationships.

• Encouraging people to pursue activities outside of work.

| Always | | Sometimes | | Never |

Effective communication

• Understanding when certain methods of communication are more appropriate and timely than others.

• Using "rich communication" (e.g., face-to-face meetings) for more sensitive matters.

• Using "lean communication" (e.g., memos) for routine matters.

| Always | | Sometimes | | Never |

Practices also should allow time to meet and discuss important issues. Practices that meet often provide the opportunity for group interaction and reflection, which results in learning, increased understanding and appropriate action.

Finally, practices should pay close attention to other factors that can influence the quality of their work relationships, such as the hierarchical nature of the staff or the physical layout and organization of the practice. Anything that could potentially hinder the creation of successful work relationships should be examined.

Trust, diversity, mindfulness, interrelatedness, respect, varied interaction and effective communication may seem like simple concepts, but they are critical. When these characteristics are modeled, developed and nurtured, the practice has a better chance of operating successfully.

Recommended Books Speaking Your Mind in 101 Difficult Situations Books Don Gabor

Don Gabor, in his book Speaking Your Mind in 101 Difficult Situations, gives these examples as ways to boost your listening skills:

Person 1. "I'm not all that crazy about it." < - - - underline indicates key words

Person 2. "Tell me exactly what you don't like about it."


Person 1. "It ought to be pretty clear what I think about that great idea of yours."

Person 2. "I have no idea what you think of my idea. Do you like it or not?"


Person 1. "You know what I'm trying to say!"

Person 2. "No, I don't know what you are trying to say. Please tell me exactly what you mean."


Mr. Gabor offers these tips for using TACTFUL conversations:

DOs and DON'Ts to Accompany T-A-C-T-F-U-L Strategies

DO be direct, courteous and calm DON'T be rude and pushy
DO spare others your unsolicited advice DON'T be patronizing, superior or sarcastic
DO acknowledge that what works for you may not work for others DON'T make personal attacks or insinuations
DO say main points first, then offer more details if necessary DON'T expect others to follow your advice or always agree with you
DO listen for hidden feelings DON'T suggest changes that a person can not easily make.

Could You Just Listen?

. . . Author Unknown

Improving Presentation Skills

Making effective presentations to groups or key individuals is a regular part of an executive's job. Delivering a clearly understandable message that gains the support of the listeners obviously requires expertise in public speaking. Less obviously, it requires that you understand the perspective of your audience and be willing to adjust your presentation based on feedback during the session.

Experts tell us that public speaking ranks highest on the list of situations people fear most (followed by death!). Overcoming this fear requires education and practice, practice, practice!

Few of us are born to be excellent public speakers. We offer encouragement to those who feel insecure don't give up! Organizations such as Toastmasters (and many others) offer proven techniques for overcoming fear and assistance in mastering master speaking skills. We have seen many, many people become accomplished speakers, who in the past became speechless when asked to speak in public.

A personal experience: Many years ago, I (Barbara Taylor) worked for a boss who recognized that a co-worker and I would not progress well in our careers if we did not learn to overcome our fear of public speaking. The boss was program director for a national professional association and scheduled us to speak at their upcoming convention (a year away). We (naturally) were horrified when he told us his plan for us to speak there!! He explained that he would spend the year teaching us and coaching us how to speak in public. We were quite skeptical at first. After several months of coaching, we had lost our intense fear of speaking in public. By the time the convention came, we were excited and confident. We felt that we could talk about anything to anybody - because we had been doing it in so many different ways as part of our training. It was a wonderful learning experience for both of us and helped us both immensely as we progressed into management.

Some tips for improving presentation skills:

  1. Know your subject! This is most important.
  2. Prepare for the speaking situation (outline, writing the entire presentation, delivering it to friends or whatever works for you). Even professional public speakers take time to prepare themselves.
  3. Prepare outlines and overheads to help develop your confidence in your presentation (part of knowing your topic well).
  4. Have your outline (or overheads, slides or note cards) with you to refer to as you make the presentation and to trigger your thoughts as you speak.
  5. In the early stages of your preparation, ask someone you trust to listen to your presentation and give you honest feedback in a one-on-one situation. Ask them what works well and what needs improvement. The more important the results of your presentation are to you, the more important it is to get help in refining your presentation.
  6. Take classes where you are able to develop presentations and have them critiqued (e.g., classes in public speaking or verbal presentation skills, Toastmasters).
  7. Tape your presentation (videotape is best) and ask others to critique your presentation. Watch yourself and learn to look for subtle body language clues to your confidence or insecurity.
  8. Talk to people you respect about how they learned to speak well. Ask them to coach you (if that is appropriate) or try to find someone you admire who will work with you.
  9. When you are confident, relaxed and enthusiastic about your topic, that comes through strongly to your audience. Remember how much comes through non-verbal clues.
  10. Ask for feedback from your audience about your presentation and pay attention to what they say.
  11. In workshops, ask the participants to introduce themselves, state why they are there and what they hope to gain from the presentation. (This is most appropriate if you are making a speech or giving a class to strangers). Based on the participants' needs and expectations, you may adjust your presentation as you go through it.
  12. In a management presentation especially (e.g., to present your new budget or present sales information), stop occasionally to ask if people understand what you have said.
  13. If you have an executive coach (or someone who can play that role), have them sit in on your presentations and help you pick up clues from the group. (We did this very effectively with one of our clients who had been promoted to department manager. We used hand signals and other cues to let her know when she was going too fast, too slow or missing the body language of an executive group where she gave regular presentations.)
  14. Practice, practice, practice!

An aside about written communications:

The disparity in methods of delivering messages is why it is so difficult to write something that is clearly understand by large audiences - only 7% effectiveness is achieved by the words alone!

That is why good visual presentation using graphics, color, balanced design layout adds so much to a written message. These additional "clues" can help compensate for the non-verbal aspect of a written message by triggering emotions on the part of the reader. Without such non-verbal clues, the Internet would fail miserably as an effective communication tool.

Notice the difference in these two graphics (one animated and one plain) and the word by itself.

Which one gets your attention? Keep this little example in mind as you develop overheads, handouts and other written material for your presentations.

Leadership Communications Skills

Leaders, executives and managers need to be very clear about what they expect from others. One of the best exercises we have seen to assist in this area is from the book, The Leadership Challenge by James Kouzes and Barry Posner. One of their suggestions for setting an example and behaving consistently with your stated values is to write a "Leadership Credo."

How to Write a Leadership Credo

  1. Imagine that you are being sent on an assignment to a remote post for nine months. You will be unable to communicate in any way with your team during the time you are away.
  2. After nine months, you will return and resume your present responsibilities.
  3. You are allowed to leave behind a one page guideline (your business beliefs, philosophy, values, credo) on how people should conduct business in your absence.
  4. Write a memo with your guidelines to your team members and others.
  5. These guiding principles will be given to everyone who works in the organization you lead.
  6. Take the time to do this exercise.
  7. Treat it as real.
  8. Share it with the people on your team.
  9. Read it to them and give it to them in written form.
  10. Ask them if they understand it.
  11. Ask them if they can adhere to the values you have given them.
  12. Review and revise your statement as necessary.

This "simple" exercise is a very powerful way to measure your effectiveness in clear communication. It forces you to create a document that is clear, powerful and succinctly captures your business philosophy. It is also a strong measure of your ability to translate what you feel into succinct communication that others can use, understand and learn from.

One example of a leadership credo actually put into practice.

If you are willing to do this exercise, it will forever change you for the better. It may lead to pleasantly surprising results with your team members.

Example of a Leadership Credo

(Comment: the last line was suggested by the team members).

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