I think one of the problems is goes to the very core of conservative beliefs; many conservatives just don’t want change from the status quo, whether it’s due to philosophy or fear or something else. Talking may have an effect on some of them, but not many. Anthropogenic global warming is a good example, where it’s not even just politics but hard science – yet so many conservatives in the U.S. continue to reject it.
At the risk of annoying repetition, though, I think this is assuming the wrong focus. This is not generally a problem of people who are not getting understood or heard. @MissyPants is right that it is more about wanting to be obeyed, though that is more of a Skeletor thing than a universal need you could empathize with. So let me try to split the difference.
This is about the human need, not always listed but definitely real, to matter.
Right now this is a very hard need to fill, and this is one of few cases where that applies even to the otherwise privileged. You can find it in a cause bigger than yourself, but so many of those are now plainly empty. Dreams of humanity’s future have turned from utopias and moon bases into ignoring climate change and collection of marketing data. Social progress is still an important cause, but can’t always fill the need for well-off white men, if they haven’t learned to find meaning as pure supporting cast. Careers are no longer anything to build an identity around, since you always have to be ready to move on, and do not offer much hope for economic advancement. For those who do find it, success often seems to be nothing but inane hedonism. Serving your country turns out to be a good way to end up homeless with PTSD from a conflict meant only to enrich arms dealers. Our increased connection offers niches for those who can find them, but it can also make achievements seem petty and unfulfilling.
In contrast to wanting obeisance, I don’t think wanting your life to matter is a negative impulse, and getting cut off from it is something easy to empathize with. The need to matter is the foundation of so many of the stories we tell and has driven many great things. But without them, it can also turn sour fast as people start inventing enemies they can stomp and finding it at the expense of others. That’s what I see here.
I’ve quoted Orwell’s review of Mein Kampf before, but would like to repeat it here, because I think there is a lot of insight in it:
Hitler, because in his own joyless mind he feels it with exceptional strength, knows that human beings don’t only want comfort, safety, short working-hours, hygiene, birth-control and, in general, common sense; they also, at least intermittently, want struggle and self-sacrifice, not to mention drums, flags and loyalty-parades. However they may be as economic theories, Fascism and Nazism are psychologically far sounder than any hedonistic conception of life. The same is probably true of Stalin’s militarised version of Socialism. All three of the great dictators have enhanced their power by imposing intolerable burdens on their peoples. Whereas Socialism, and even capitalism in a more grudging way, have said to people ‘I offer you a good time,’ Hitler has said to them ‘I offer you struggle, danger and death,’ and as a result a whole nation flings itself at his feet.I think in a movement that has been creeping toward openly embracing Nazism, this is the key impulse for us to understand. Not a failure to be heard or understood, but to find worthwhile things to do, and with that settling for what at least seems like a fight.
I started working on a card game once, to teach de-escalation and active listening. Somewhere between Fluxx and Hearts. I had some difficult people in my life then, not so much these days! I really think you’re onto something.
Maybe I’m an impressionable person, but in my readthrough of Mein Kamp, at least the first part seemed focused on his political history rather than beliefs, and it was pretty easy to get swept up in the feeling of watching this tiny party organize and overcome its obstacles to become a major political force. Then the second part was a disgusting, constant reminder of how awful and hateful that political force was, and I’m not sure how I finished it…
it’s a matter, as I see it, of who is not ‘letting him’ speak. For my part, I am the one who stifles my own voice when I need to be listening to what the problem I don’t yet see, is.
Okay, so, let me see if I can recap what I am reading.
Men like Google Dude have some or all of the following traits (edited):
- Cannot be trusted. They are not acting in good faith. To talk to someone like him not only is a waste of effort (because he is not sincerely trying to be heard, but instead trying to harm) it also is harmful because it gives voice to his toxic ideology.
- Are motivated by a need to dominate and control. They do not understand sharing, mutual appreciation, acting from concern and love. They falsely equate submission and obedience to love.
- Gain a sense of value from hurting others/slaying enemies/hero stories of domination and control.
- They are interested in maintaining the status quo. because change makes them uncomfortable. They would rather reject facts that face the change in behavior that these facts imply.
- They are circle jerking in social media sexist, racist views. We need to remove whatever platforms we can that draw people into the alt-right/right-wing nutjob social media alterna-vortex.
- Are not capable of listening
Is this a good summary?
I would change to read:
I made the edit. Good suggestion.
There is a second empathy circle with Google Guy where there is a meta discussion about empathy. It’s a good introduction to the process. It’s being modeled as well as described. I think the guest in the upper left is really good at doing the empathy skills.
One thing I see them do a lot, though, that I’ve been taught to do less, is they will paraphrase what each other is saying, rather than trying to remember the specific wording being used and parroting back as best as possible the actual words each other is saying.
Of my own brother, yes, spot on. It’s like you’ve met him.
Is there a factory or something?
These are software guys we’re talking about, so there’s not as much a factory as there is a factory method.
He’s a software guy, for a bank. Best of both worlds!!
You mean like how he did for half of the population? Modeling good behavior is what parents do to children, not what the “dismissed” should be required to do to protect the fragile sensibilities of the “dismisser”.
You’ve reminded me of one of Slacktivist’s latest posts:
The reason to listen to someone with bad ideas is to hear their framework. This gives you a chance to speak to them about your issues in a way they can connect with. When you are approaching an issue from a point of view that is completely unrelated to their viewpoint, you have no chance of having a productive conversation and moving them forward.
Here’s an example from my own life. I’ve had a lot of therapy, and my husband has not. Sometimes I’m just so comfortable with therapy terms and he has more of a mainstream general knowledge of these terms. For example, how I think about depression is very different from him. I see it as a treatable disease. He sees it as a social stigma.
But my husband actually has a sophisticated understanding of human behavior that comes from his work in martial arts. He’s studied deeply what happens to people when they go into panicked and defensive states, when logic falls away and people just start lashing out.
When we were able to slow a conversation down and hear this, I was able to speak to him about some of the things I am doing that he has completely misunderstood in a language he can relate to. But it was only when we slowed down and started hearing how we relate to this knowledge so differently that we could connect productively.
I am not surprised at all to read this.
At the end of the second video I posted, James Damore reveals that he is on the spectrum and he asks the empathy experts for help with showing and behaving with empathy. This section starts around 1:15:00 in.
I feel like this study is relevant here:
That sounds really good. I’ll watch this when I have the chance. Sounds like he realized something may be, well, different. Like it got through as a hurdle it was on him to jump, not the rest of the world to. That’s kinda rare, and I expect it would take a very empathetic person to draw such a request from someone heavily on the spectrum. Thanks for the follow up, you convinced me to watch!
I’ll tell you a story. My dad, many years ago. I explained to him that when I am negotiating with someone I figure out what I want, how much I can compromise, and go from there. My dad explained that was wrong, I should figure out what I want, ask for more, and compromise on the more - “like most people do.”
It was illuminating. I can now tell when people are doing this. My past is littered with examples of me walking away from such ‘negotiations’.