Justin Norman's Reviews > How to Have Impossible Conversations: A Very Practical Guide

How to Have Impossible Conversations by Peter Boghossian
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really liked it

I'm a bit torn about how to feel about this book. It focuses on a topic that I think is one of the most important issues in America at the moment: how to talk to people across political divides. The majority of it would seem to be great advice, but I was disappointed to discover that the book did not cover much on communicating through social media. This came as a surprise because I found out about both authors' writing through social media.

The book states that because no techniques have been proven to work on social media, it's better to have conversations in person. This seems like common sense, but personally I don't have many opportunities to talk with people about opposing political beliefs in person. I just don't find myself in those situations very often, and I'm not sure what a good forum for doing this would be. So if I want to debate or discuss these topics with people, I'm much more likely to do it online.

Additionally, the authors don't seem to follow their own advice on the social media topic. They both engage in political debate and mocking opposing ideas on Twitter. This isn't to say their advice in the book is rendered incorrect (it could be advice they aspire to follow but don't), but it does diminish my readiness to practice it.

Those complaints aside, the book is full of advice for having productive conversations in person. This covers ways of rephrasing your argument and asking the right questions to make someone doubt their strongly-held beliefs. This is exactly the kind of thing I wish more people would read to help them communicate better, rather than allowing political conversations to devolve into shouting matches.

Some of the techniques seem a bit manipulative, but the authors acknowledge that particular approaches may be morally suspect. The majority of it, however, seems very helpful. Whether or not I will have many opportunities to try out these techniques in person remains to be seen, but I'm thankful to have read the book in any case.
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Reading Progress

September 24, 2019 – Started Reading
September 24, 2019 – Shelved
October 28, 2019 –
October 29, 2019 –
November 1, 2019 – Finished Reading

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