(Thanks to my friend Wayne for turning me on to this video).
Here are my key takeaways…
Start with where are you agree. The video points are a great example of where Jordan Peterson not only agrees with, but actively expands upon a potential adversaries point, and then takes it just a little bit further to counter the argument. This is a technique that practitioners of Aikido know very well. It’s called blending. In layman’s terms, it is often referred to as “using your opponents energy against themselves.” But I don’t think that sentiment addresses the true nature of the behavior. It’s really about starting by becoming “one” with your opponent, as woo-woo as that may sound. In a true blend, there is, for a moment at least, no difference between the attacker and the attacked.
It is best to speak in terms like these: “it seems like… “, which acknowledges the fact that you cannot truly know what the other person is thinking or feeling. You then go about clarifying the other persons point in a way that they would agree with.“ A-men! This is the “talking stick exercise“ that I’ve discussed in other posts. This is Jedi master stuff.
To (eventually, inevitably) address contentious arguments, start by establishing your good intentions. (4:18) The idea is to defuse the connection between the person with whom you’re speaking, and their ideas. We so easily become identified with our ideas. It makes us hold on. It makes us less likely two let go of an idea, because it means we would be letting go of a piece of ourselves.
BTW, if you approach the whole exercise — especially items in the two paragraphs above — with the agenda of learning “tricks” to defeat you opponent, you’re missing the point entirely.
Separate your own ego from the views that you had when you entered the discussion. Recognize that “your“ views are not really “yours,” and make it clear to the person with whom you’re speaking that you understand this is true for them, as well. Non-identification with your opinions is essential! In Aikido, we train ourselves to enter a confrontation without an agenda. It’s really hard, even in a training scenario. Just keep in mind that you are not attacking (or defending yourself from) a person. You are merely taking issue with a particular argument (or technique) — the attack, not the person who delivered the attack. Don’t think or say “The problem I have with your argument.” This addresses the fundamental need for people to be right; or, conversely, the fundamental fear people have of being wrong. It’s not “your” (or “my”) argument. It’s “the” argument. Do not identify with “your perspective.“
7:45 in the video — if you remember nothing else in this post, memorize this 17 seconds.