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How to Talk To Your Enemies: A Guide to Empathetic Communication

How to Talk To Your Enemies by Alicia Dunams, is the prescription we all need. We’re in such a divisive time in our lives that everyone wants to take sides and tear down “the other person”. Few want to take the time to listen, talk and learn from each other, says Alicia Dunams. We might still disagree after we talk, but Alicia Dunams says we can be more empathetic.

In order to make peace with others we must first make peace with ourselves, inner peace. One gem in “How to Talk To Your Enemies” by Alicia Dunams is the 3 step apology:

  • Empathize
  • Apologize
  • Commit to doing better

Part of talking to our enemies is beyond political or moral disagreements, but also when someone offends us. Maybe they were rude or do physical or emotional harm to us. We have an obligation to call them out and address the situation. Our speaking to them might get them to see the wrongness of their ways and change.

Constructive Communication

The first step towards constructive communication with our enemies is to make peace with ourselves. That means taking care of our emotional and mental health, dealing with our biases, and being self-aware. Once you have accomplished this, it becomes easier to focus on others, even those who hold opposing views or have hurt us in some way.

Related: Improve the Way You Communicate and be a Better Leader with Radical Candor

Beyond Politics

Talking to our enemies is not limited to political and ideological differences alone. It can also apply to situations where someone in your life has hurt you, whether intentionally or not. It takes courage and effort to call them out, but it’s essential to maintain a healthy relationship. By calmly and respectfully addressing the situation rather than being vindictive or aggressive, we can help our enemies to recognize the error of their ways, and they might even apologize and work towards making things better.

Listen

Another way to talk to your enemies effectively is by first listening to what they have to say. Encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings, and create a safe environment where they feel heard. There’s always a reason why people behave the way they do, and sometimes taking the time to understand their perspective can lead to a resolution of the conflict.

Related: The Art of Active Listening: A powerful ingredient for good relationships

Lead by Example

Finally, don’t forget to lead by example. It’s easy to get caught up in emotions and allow anger or bitterness to cloud our judgment. However, by being respectful, empathetic, and genuine, you can influence others to do the same. The goal of communication with your enemies is to create a space where mutual respect and understanding can be fostered.

Related: 10 Top Traits of Successful Leaders & How To Develop Them

Communicating with our enemies doesn’t have to be an exercise in futility. We can indeed find ways to connect with them, understand their perspective, and create a space where meaningful dialogue can take place. Alicia Dunams’ book, “How to Talk To Your Enemies,” is a must-read for anyone who wants to improve their communication skills, build bridges with the people around them, and promote understanding in a world that has become increasingly divided. Remember, empathy, active listening, and a sincere desire to learn about others are all essential ingredients for effective communication with your enemies.

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