Despite having the best of intentions, it's often easy for your well-meaning advice to be taken as an attack — perhaps with good reason. Philosopher Daniel Dennett has some thoughts on how to foster a more receptive audience with compassion.
Dennett's advice is rooted in game theory, according to Marla Popova at Brain Pickings. Rather than succumbing to the temptation to "caricature one's opponent," you might be better received by doing the following:
How to compose a successful critical commentary:
- You should attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.
- You should list any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).
- You should mention anything you have learned from your target.
- Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.
This advice seems especially helpful in the faceless landscape of Internet Arguments. The entire post is absolutely worth reading, as well as the suggested further reading about refuting arguments according to Susan Sontag.
Image originally by Dmitry Rozhkov