Tips for talking - and listening
Our correspondent, who wishes to be anonymous, adds to his own suggestions for how to have that difficult conversation that wins the heart and mind of a Brexit supporter the views of two experienced campaigners. Both emphasise the importance of establishing common ground. Listen. Find where you can honestly agree with them. Ask questions to see what they really mean or actually want. Make suggestions.
Make the connexion, find the common ground
What I find works most is to acknowledge what they say, no matter how outlandish. Then try to find some common ground somewhere.
If they despise the EU because of immigration, for example, then acknowledging that completely uncontrolled immigration can cause problems is a great way to get them to genuinely listen to you.
From there you can then try to convince them, with evidence, that the EU doesn't control our immigration policy for non-EU immigrants and that there are more restrictions available in freedom of movement than the UK government applies. If they have problems they should blame consecutive Labour and Conservative governments, not the EU.
That's just one example, but I encounter it most often and find it rather effective. People are more likely to listen to what you have to say if they think you agree with them.
Always stick to facts too. If you cannot immediately provide several sources then don't use the point as they will reject it. If you're using studies and the sources come from a media source they dislike, such as the Guardian, rather than linking them the Guardian article, always link them the actual study.
Counter what they say, but don't be harsh about it. Be understanding, don't belittle them, do try to soften them, again, with as much common ground as you can find.
Ask them questions - give them space to get there
First of all, remember that human beings are tribal. We have 'us' and 'them', So you need to bring them into the same group as you. Find an area of commonality - do you support the same football team, do they have a dog you can pet (or are you both 'cat people') etc. People are more likely to listen if you are 'us' rather than 'them'.
When you're talking to them, remember facts rarely change minds. Find out specifically what they object to about the EU or why they want Brexit. Then dig deeper into that with further questions.
So if they (for example) say 'Sovereignty" open with something like 'I'm not sure what that means'. Normally they come back with something along the lines of 'we can make our own laws'. Ask them what laws have we had imposed on them that they're looking forward to not following.
Immigration - ask what they don't like. If they talk about not being able to control who comes in, I find it fruitful to ask if maybe they'd prefer something like a system where people have 3 months to get a job, or prove they're not going to be any form of burden on the state, or they have to get out. Nearly always they think that sounds good. Then you can drop in that is current EU law, and the UK government decided they weren't going to implement it. But you can also go with other things like whether we should be blaming the government for underfunding schools, hospitals etc, rather than immigrants.
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