Before I go on to consider rational dialogue and productive discussion, I want to address times when my only response is a deep breath and a brain which resembles the photo above. These would be times when the other person really isn’t interested in your point of view at all. At those times, I have learned to quite quickly have a very compelling reason to walk away!
A prime example came when my husband and I struck up a conversation with a man fixing the parking lot gate at our church. We were on solid ground talking about the mechanics of the gate, his expertise, and the weather, which was lovely. Or so I thought. He began to explain to us that the the lovely trails from the high flying jets were not jet vapor but rather poisonous chemicals, part of a secret conspiracy to ..(I don’t know. My brain was getting scrambled.)
Then, not missing a beat, he started in on the murders at Sandy Hook Elementary School. These were actually committed by a mentally ill young man armed with a machine gun who entered the school and mercilessly killed 26 children and teachers. This man began to regale us with the “truth” that it was all staged and that he had lots of evidence to back up this “truth.” Since we knew people who knew some of the victims, this sickened me. My logical brain couldn’t fathom why he believed this. Fortunately, my protective self grabbed my husband, said we were late already, and left.
It would not have been helpful to engage this man in a conversation. I grieved that lies on the internet could persuade a gullible reader. But many manipulators, including nations, knew that already.