Guns, God, & Drugs: How to Negotiate America’s Political Arguments | Dan Shapiro

Guns, God, & Drugs: How to Negotiate America’s Political Arguments | Dan Shapiro

So here we are trying to negotiate what might
seem nonnegotiable. Why do these things feel so nonnegotiable? One reason is that we hold certain values
and beliefs as sacred. The other side holds alternative values and
beliefs as sacred. And if my beliefs don’t match up with yours
we have an impasse, we have gridlock. The question is, can you get out of gridlock,
and how do you get out of gridlock? Is it true that you cannot negotiate the nonnegotiable? You can. The most powerful tool I know on how to negotiate
the nonnegotiable is the power of appreciation. What I mean by that, it is the ability to
deeply listen to the other side’s perspective not just so that you can argue back but so
that they feel heard. Now this is the hardest thing to do in the
world. If you’re a strong Clintonite or Trumpite,
to say, “you know, start by understanding that other
side’s perspective”—You’re going to look at me like, “you’re crazy.” And even if you don’t think I’m crazy,
you’re going to try and do it, and let me tell you what I see happen a lot. People try to understand the other side and
two minutes later they say, “Oh no, I understand your perspective, but you’re just wrong!” It’s not a two minute conversation. It’s at least a half hour to an hour. It’s not, “Yeah, I get it.” It’s, “No, I don’t get it. Help me understand it. Tell me more. Talk to me.” That’s the kind of conversation we want,
whether it’s in the political sphere or whether it is, you know, an individual negotiating
with their spouse. The moment anybody—with even the most sacred
beliefs—starts to feel heard and valued, their arms are going to uncross, they’re
going to lean forward and they’re going to say “you get it.” Now the danger is they might then say “so
why don’t you come to my side?” you know. But that’s okay. You’ve moved forward. They feel heard. The next most important piece then is to say,
“And just as you have your perspective, I have mine. I have my own sacred values. Would you be open to listening to me and to
my perspective? I understand we are coming from”—notice
the next word. It’s not, “But you’re wrong!”, you
know. And that’s how most of our conversations
take place. You look at the political sphere today: “I
understand, but…” I was recently talking with a congressperson. He said, “Look, I went and I talked to a
whole group of constituents about this one particular issue, and then I said ‘I understand
your perspective,’” which was different than his. And after he explained why he understood,
all of a sudden two minutes later he said, “But.” And I said to him, “Boy, you lost that whole
set of constituents right now. They don’t feel appreciated.” You want to say, “And.” “I hear where you’re coming from, and
I see the value in your perspective. And I’m letting you know.” That can start to break through the walls
of the sacred. Once the other side feels truly heard and
understood, now they’re much more likely to listen to you. And you might start sharing a little bit about
your own perspective. And instead of saying, “Do you get where
I’m coming from,” you can say, “What do you hear me saying?” And simply by asking that question,
what do you hear me saying?”, it forces the other almost to empathize with your perspective,
at least to try and take that stance of understanding. Now success for the other side is accurately
reflecting back what you said. Failure is the failure to actually have listened,
which allows you to then correct. “So what do you hear me saying? I’m not sure I’m being clear about why
I believe in this candidate and what they stand for. What do you hear me saying?” So I think step one is for each side to truly
understand in a really real way that other side’s perspective. And it’s true, it’s not just one side
understanding the other. Each side has to work to understand the other’s
perspective. Now this can easily turn into a fire when
one side says, “You know, you’re crazy. I can’t believe you are my relative—you’re
my son, my daughter… Boy, you know, I didn’t raise you the way
I wanted to raise you. Your value systems are different than the
way I thought they should be. You are wrong for believing what you believe.” Now that moment in time, that’s the critical
moment. Are you going to respond at that point in
time, when the other side is attacking your belief systems, by saying, “F you, no, it’s
your fault! You’re wrong!” Or at that point in time are you going to
say, “You know what? Help me understand more.” And that might seem soft and weak. It is the toughest and hardest thing to do. I’ve worked with hostage negotiators, with
crisis negotiators in situations of war. This is what moves things forward. That ability to deeply listen to the other
side even when they’re throwing that toxic energy at you. You don’t need to absorb it all. You don’t need to sort of swallow all that
negative energy. My advice is just let that negative energy
fly right by you, hit the wall behind you. You’re listening for the message. You are holding onto the meaning that they’re
sharing, but you’re not going to let their approach, their adversarial approach to this
conversation dominate the framing of how you’re going to have a conversation. So people say “listen,” and listening
is the hardest thing in the world to do, you know. When it comes to emotionally charged conflicts,
why is it so hard to listen? Because my identity is feeling threatened. You’re not just attacking some cerebral
ideas I have. You are attacking my value system, what I
believe represents the core safety of my family, of myself. The meaning I bring to life. And once you attack that, oh, it’s really
hard not to have that snake’s head, you know, go and bite off your head. Another tool that you can use in a conflict
situation is to ask advice. The moment you find yourself in conflict with
the other side don’t entrench yourself in your position: “This is my position. What’s your position on healthcare?” Boy that’s going to get you nowhere except
toward impasse and gridlock. Instead ask, “What’s your advice? Look, you know more about the other side’s
perspective than I do. I know more about mine. What’s your advice on how we might work
most effectively together? What’s your advice on some policies that
might address your interests and maybe some of my constituents interest as well?” The moment you ask advice it almost automatically
invites the other person from that role of adversary into the role of colleague.


  1. People just want to be heard, nobody especially hardcore trump supporters want to hear the other side

  2. That's all well and good when you're debating issues of moral relativism. But when you run into someone who refuses to acknowledge scientific evidence – let's take a new earth creationist, for example – there's a limit to how far emotional empathy will get you.

  3. Top quote in elections,
    1. "YES WE CAN"
    2. "If you want to talk about politics, we'll need more than five minutes"
    3. "Take a walk in someone else's shoes"

    1. "LOCK HER UP!"
    2 "boy I'd like to punch him in the face"
    3. "Bowling green massacre was never reported"

  4. He could have just said playing frisbie in a blizzard. in regards to the negative energy and message bit.

  5. yeah Trump, stop winning so much. Our deep state psyop is not working.

    score: Trump 42 – Libtards 0

  6. You can't listen and truly appreciate somebody's opinion or belief when that belief is so corrupt, irrational, and off-putting that wars have been fought over it.

  7. The problem i have is when I say, "What do you hear me say?" they will just jump out of the conversation and say whatever at that point 🙁

  8. Recently dealt with a bout of office politics that this advice would have greatly helped with. In hindsight, it brings to light many things I likely didn't do as well as I could have. Thanks for the vid!

  9. Cause so many people don't listen. They only listen to rely. Which means had there mind made up the second you started talking.

  10. This is all well and good, but how does it apply when the other guy believes stuff that isn't true? Facts still exist. Truth, falsehood, and logic have not been invalidated, despite appearances. I guess you have to have a conversation without letting on that they are wrong. Can you do that without tacitly agreeing with their erroneous belief?

  11. The Formula for Truth:
    1. Only have one perspective.
    2. Conflict with another who only has one perspective.
    3. Choose the person over the information (The hard part)
    4. Choosing other person's perspective over own generates a new third perspective.
    5. Unlocks full spectrum/system on the topic.
    6. Take action based on win-win-win (you, other and entire system).

    Choosing the other person's perspective means you gain access to theirs aswell as your own which unlocks the full spectrum of perspectives which allows you to understand it as a system rather than just one thing. This automatically makes you smarter and able to choose an action that benefits everyone.

    It's always a system that's at a fault, not the person. Fixing the flaws in a system allows all parties to work together to upgrade everything. Nothing upgrades when we blame each other because each person thinks they're right and the fault is with the other person when actually they are both right about what they are right about and the faults are with the system/environment/nature itself.

  12. Yes. All of this sounds great. However, in practice, it doesn't work. No one is actually going to try and talk to the other side. Obama didn't make an attempt his entire presidency, he just used executive orders on things he knew would get hung up in a debate. Nowadays, Democrats have lost all real power in the government so they've turned to holding up anything that tries to go through into law. Republicans aren't getting out of this scot-free either. They aren't making an effort to get Democrats talking right now. As for SJWs and creationists/hardcore religious people, you can't talk to them, they won't budge no matter what and chances are (more in terms of SJWs), they'll start yelling within 5 minutes of the conversation starting.

  13. When others waste away in desolation and with hardship and lose their lives over the differences with wealth and poverty, that everyone was born into during this moment in time. While others greedily and stingily stockpile up immense material wealth with no other intentions beyond themselves. There are those who have piled up this enormous wealth and use it (and many do) for the improved operations of people and create something for the common goodness that progresses everyone.
    However, if there is even a small tinge of the wealth being gained in a manner that is dishonest and greedily and stingily stockpiled up and used for more profit making, war, physical harm to other humans in countless ways then the negotiations will more than likely end in a unpleasant manner sooner or later for everyone.

  14. dang i wanna smoke what he's smoking…. I'm guessing he hasn't watched any videos on youtube. Anytime someone asks them(sex negative or anitfa) to explain their belief they say " it's not my job to educate you". It's believed this is mainly because they are not educated enough themselves to teach their propaganda to you

  15. Argh. It was going well until he substituted "but" with "and."

    Because then he goes into the realm of a con-job. Well-intentioned, perhaps, but a con-job nonetheless.

    I was first told of this trick by a social worker. She'd recently been trained to deal with clients by using the "Yes and" technique. When some unfit parent demanded the children back into the parent's hell-hole, no longer was she to say "No, you can't have your children back because you're an unfit parent." Now she had to say "Yes, and we can keep your children." The theory being that people stupid enough to be unfit parents would hear the "yes" and ignore the rest.

    If somebody ever tried that trick on me I would tell them to go fuck themselves and try to refrain from violence.

    And before anyone tries to twist all this, the social worker was my sister-in-law and she told me of this because she knew I'd find it as annoyingly stupid as she did.

  16. when the other is obviously racist,,, or pulls the God Card on every tough question…… That's always a miserable conversation. AKA a conversation with a 70yr old Republican.

  17. This is why it's important to protect free speech even in cases where you oppose what's being said.

  18. I see the value in your perspective? There is NO VALUE in the white supremacist perspective! They hate black people and jews, where's the value? You can't reason with them.

  19. the man of the law said to the mass murderer:
    "20 victims a year are to much! how about one?"
    "one? oh, come on! you have to talk to me! how obout 5?"
    "ok, I get your needs I see your perspective – lets make it 2!"
    "three and its a deal!!
    "give me your hand!!
    "I think, we saved some serious lives here together today! – cheers!"

    thats diplomacy for you! second world wars chamberlain, yugoslavia – you name it!

  20. It's not "politically correct" language, it's correct language.

    And people think "SJWs" are the people looking to be offended.

  21. God isn't real, evolution is demonstrably true, and the Earth and universe are billions of years old. If anyone reading this disagrees, I invite you to make a case to the contrary. 🙂

  22. I try all this with daily debates with friends and WOW is it incredibly hard. Primarily when or IF they have some seemingly unreasonable and truly fallacious view on certain topics.

  23. I have long ago given up debating these topics with Americans. It is like banging my head against a brick wall. It always ends in anger and deleted friendships. I don't have any more American friends.

  24. Presenting your interlocutor's argument back to them as honestly and cogently as possible is both interpersonally and epistemologically productive, sure. But the potential obverse of this perspective towards debate is one where the point of a discussion isn't truth-seeking but coddling.

  25. Me: "so what's your advice on fixing this issue?"
    other guy: "cites methods that are scientifically proven not to work for this issue or even make the issue worse"

    Ok, now what?

  26. OK its a good ethos for dialogue, but its said by someone who is most likely a liberal. Its a liberal position of compromise and free dialogue which I guess can be held sacred but its nowhere close to believing theocratic and nationalist beliefs that cannot by nature compromise because rational dialogue will erode at the totality of an absolute world view.

  27. I have a hard time understanding how you'd apply this to a disagreement like climate change. It's hard to get on the same page when the other person is insisting that 1+1 = 4.

  28. I spent lots of time getting into the head of the "the other side". Now I fully agree with them on many issues, and think almost everybody is dogmatic, tribal, and unreasonable. It's a strange place to be.

  29. Oh look, a comprimiser – the definition of stupid, weak, and pathetic. We battle it out and the winners get everything, fuck the country, if we don't get what we want, we burn it to the ground.

    BUt but there are good things too! Fuck you token CRAP and creature comforts, NOT good enough.

  30. The system is not made to seek understanding. There would be no more wars, no politicians, no hunger. Even our financial system would disappear. So what is the solution? Stop the BS and go for a resource based economy as defined by the Zeitgeist movement, TZM. The rest will only cause conflict, because it thrives on it. Don't believe you can change people if you don't change the environment.

  31. Im an OBAMANITE, or atleast I used to be, before all the fake delusions and perceptions that were twisted to disuade me from believing he would always be trust worthy. When things dont make sense, it makes us question why. Those we trust shouldnt play games like that, and now were supposed to feel bad that we feel duped? I feel betrayed and fooled and it better damn sure been worth it after the false Apocalypse! Not sure how its gonna play out, but it appears to be a fakery big time happening. Im quite upset i wasnt invited to participate!

  32. This is all corporate media manipulation of Tribal behaviors. What you need to do, is stop talking about non-issues that exist as the result of higher level problems.

    Racism is a ground level issue. But, it is based on something else? Poverty. So you should be discussing how Poverty creates racism and how to end Poverty is ending racism. But you don't, you get mad about racism like a primitive fuckpotato.

    Gun Violence is a ground level issue. But, it is based again on Poverty. So you should be discussing how Poverty creates a culture where gun violence is highly encouraged. But again, you don't. You want to talk about gun regulations… Like a fuckpotato.

    Drugs boil down to education. The average person does not have enough information to make an informed decision about prescription drugs, or recreational drugs. But this is a failure in our education system, and the horrific result of corrupt corporate ownership of the Healthcare system in this country.

    Yet again, Education, or access to it, depends on your socioeconomic environment. Ergo, Poverty. Once again.

    All political arguments boil back down to Poverty, the Wealth Gap, and Corporatism.

    You are all arguing about the wrong fucking thing like useless fuckpotatos, while the wealthy exploit and abuse your ignorance.

  33. It seems that by replacing the word 'but' with 'and' is just another form of manipulation and lip service.

  34. It isnt just my identity being threatened, it's my life. Trans people are being killed and there is no value in understanding the views of people who hate that intensely.

  35. The strange thing to me is the HATE that exists. If one were to break it down are we not ALL in favor of everyone on the planet getting enough food? Medical care? Don't we all favor a clean, non polluted earth? There are big differences to be sure. Those who think government has too much control and those who believe government has too little. But LISTENING to the other party frequently leads one to change ones mind. A different perspective is seldom something to avoid. You want to KNOW all the options when buying a car, or sending your child off to school. Why then the resistance to more knowledge about how to FIX things? We, for whatever strange reason see the other side of the aisle as the enemy. One side wants to provide for everybody. The other wants to instill in those without the skills and confidence to take care of themselves. The END game is the same. Isn't it? No one likes to be talked down to or be ignored. Both sides are horrendously guilty of just that. And when I say both sides I'm putting way too fine a point on it. Almost NOBODY tows the party line completely. We all distance ourselves from some of our parties platforms. In essence we have far more in common than we have differences. We must open our eyes and LISTEN. I wish your message was required reading for everyone. And understanding what you say just as important.

  36. Ok, I hear what Shapiro is saying. I can see where this understanding listening would be useful. However, keep in mind that this approach assumes that our differences are the result of different values. If that's the case, great…but there are also a lot of arguments made that are simply factually false, not because of principles, but because of numbers and empirical facts. What then?

    In addition, when does the actual persuasion start? You can't persuade people with your ears. Persuasion comes from showing people, if not the flaws, the limitations of their beliefs. It doesn't matter how much you listen, you WILL be in conflict if you are having a political debate, and all the active listening in the world won't change that.

  37. It's also am issue of feeling that a compromise is less effective than your particular solution, which can impeed progress with the feeling of "settling" rather then executing the best solution.

    I guess your step one, that's step two

  38. Fascinating. Evidence that evolution is ongoing. The human super-organism still learning how to use the biology with which it is endowed to communicate.

  39. Thinking about family relationships; so many thing here where we that we all know instinctively but keep getting wrong.

    Slow down, relax and listen

  40. the problem i find with this technique is that the other side is perfectly happy to go on and on with their ideas (?) and toxic rhetoric, they'll talk endlessly. but when you say now listen to my point of view they have no interest. they are confirmed in their own righteousness, have no interest in facts or ideas which contradict their world view. you find that you have just wasted an hour of your life.

  41. Stupid. Dont say "but", say "and". Isnt that being agreeable? It doesnt matter how many "ands" you string together, if you have any intent to refute or reject, a "but" inevitably has to follow at some point.

  42. this guy is like the total opposite of Ben Shapiro. lol he's all about compassion and understanding the other side, Ben is all about making u look like a dumbass in front of people lol

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