How to Smooth Over Potential Points of Conflicts with Civil Discourse

July 25, 2022


Meeting new and diverse people is one of life’s greatest pleasures, don’t you agree?

But, as people are diverse, so are their opinions, thoughts, experiences, and aspirations. These differences make conversations very interesting and enlightening. They open our minds to new experiences and values; and even help us reevaluate our behaviors and attitudes.

Surely, you have experienced this before? Or haven’t you?

Haven’t you ever finished a conversation feeling enriched, as if you’ve learned more than a year’s worth of study?

However, sometimes these discussions do not go according to plan. There are often clashes when one strongly held viewpoint disagrees with the other. These conflicts and misunderstandings can ruin a conversation.

How do you mitigate this? How do you ensure that a discussion does not degenerate into fights and insults?

Maintaining a polite and fruitful discussion involves being calm-headed and following the laws of logic and the rules of Civil discourse. Suppose you can maintain your cool in a heated argument, respond logically and imbibe the principles of Civil discourse. In that case, you’re more inclined to learn more and keep the discussion from turning into a shouting match.

You’re already wondering what Civil discourse is and how its principles will help diffuse misunderstanding and conflicts in discussions. Continue reading to know more about Civil discourse and how to engage in it to resolve conflicts.


What is Civil discourse?

Conversations can result in conflicts, especially when strongly held opposing viewpoints are discussed. Still, if one is open-minded, presents their points politely, and gets to understand the other person’s perspective, it will make all the difference. And that is what Civil discourse is.

Civil discourse is not a pretentious discussion where disagreements are masked under insincere politeness to avoid conflicts. On the contrary, it is a valuable discussion where anyone is allowed to express their views logically and politely to reach a common and progressive understanding.

This can be achieved when individuals listen to understand and not argue or cause conflict. It is rather the opposite. You engage in Civil discourse to resolve conflicts. Discussions tend to be enlightening and civil when people show sincere interest in understanding a different viewpoint and disagree politely.

Civil conversations lead to progressive thinking. But many people do not know how to.  Engaging in Civil discourse during conflict resolution will result in a more comfortable and knowledgeable experience. Continue reading to find out how.


Engaging in Civil discourse to resolve conflicts


You need to understand that conflicts in conversations do not occur simply because of a difference in opinion but due to impolite voicing of those differences. To resolve these conflicts through civil discourse, you must follow some guidelines.

These guidelines are as follows.


Set clear boundaries

One of the key factors of having a conflict-free discourse is setting boundaries. When boundaries are set, people feel free to voice their opinions without fear of decorum upsetting. In conversations where boundaries are not clearly stated, ad hominems are at their peak.

However, if boundaries are set, people will focus on the topic of conversation and try to achieve the goal of the discourse, which is reaching a mutual understanding. It is pertinent to ensure everyone’s point is acknowledged and contrary views are not ridiculed.


Listen actively

Most people enter a discussion solely to correct the other person’s views; this wrong mindset makes them not actively listen to the other person’s point.

This is not uncommon. It can happen to anyone. But you can listen actively and improve your conversational skills when you focus on the conversation, reiterate their points, and request clarification, especially when you don’t understand their point.


Have an open mind regardless of opinions

In our everyday conversations, our viewpoints are shaped by our cognitive biases. This makes it hard to accept other people’s opinions. Suppose we understand that this also applies to the people we are conversing with. In that case, we may be more tolerant of their perspectives.

To keep your bias in check and ensure that your conversation is productive, you must:

  • Reduce the urge to be defensive, and
  • Understand that contrary views are not made to disparage your point.


Use facts and figures

Conversations can easily derail to personal attacks if you lose sight of what you’re talking about in the first place. Backing up your opinions with facts and evidence gives weight to your argument.

Stick with the numbers and be as objective as possible. Your opponent will probably argue from personal experience, and experiences differ. Still, your argument will make itself if you introduce facts and statistics.


Be confident

Have you had a conversation with an expert in a certain field? You may not have agreed with the expert, but you were moved to mull over their opinion for some time. This is because the expert was convinced in his opinion. This confidence usually comes from being sure of your position.


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