From Bryar Keyes (Springfield, MO)
1. Be Attentive
Breathe, listen, learn.
In the process of civil discourse and action one must truly be attentive, to the situation, to the topic, and to the others involved in the conversation.
To truly be attentive, there are three main components to keep in mind.
Listen to understand, not to respond.
Know where you are, physically, and frame of mind at the time.
Understand where your conversational partner is coming from and pay attention to what they are saying, both verbally and nonverbally.
You can’t converse to respond, or you aren’t carrying out your half of the deal. You should respond when you have something of quality to say back to make the conversation more profound, and have listened and thought about what the other party has put forth. Eye contact is crucial to listening to someone, countless studies show how eye contact provides maximum retention.
You also need to take into account your surroundings and be aware of where you are and your place in that situation. This means understanding your experiences and personal feelings about the topic of discussion as well as the setting of the conversation.
If you take these into account you will also be understanding of the other party in the conversation and where they are coming from, their frame of reference, their feelings, and their motivations for their behavior. By keeping these tactics in mind during the conversation you can prevent many of the bad situations that may arise, and open the door to the other tenants of civility, you are more likely to be able to partake in the discourse with a greater dexterity and therefore make more progress through civility.