May 14, 2007

Yesterday, we talked about the rough language of argument. Today, we’ll discuss the gentle language of discussion. Sometimes, when you are talking with a friend, you have a secret intention. You want to change him, make him more like yourself. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t; this is how to determine that.

Indicate to your friend that you hope to influence him. Slide your character sheet forward and line up its edge with the edge of his, so that they touch and make a single rectangle. Secretly, each of you marks one of the messages on your character sheet. Conveying this message is your agenda. Sometimes you’ll have more than one agenda, but let’s talk about the case case.

Now carry on talking and interacting as you would. When you express one of your beliefs, you are said to be performing an overture. Place a stone on the centre of the belief in question.

Now your friend will respond; if he shows agreement, he slides the stone to the spot on the inside, next to where the sheets touch. If he shows disagreement, he slides the stone to the spot on the outside, and he expresses the basis of his disagreement via one of his own beliefs, placing a stone on that belief’s spot as well. Once he’s responded to your overture, he has the first opportunity to make one of his own.

Once you are both done making overtures, reveal the agendas that you’ve expressed (don’t mention ones you didn’t) look at the stones on your sheets. If your agenda was rejected by the other character, then he acquires a message that opposes it! Put some chips on this new message, as many as you have stones on the outside of your sheet—the intensity of his counterreaction is based on how strongly he disagrees with your entire worldview.

Similarly, if your agenda was accepted, the other character gains that message, with chips equal to the stones on your inside. Also give him a star of war—unconsciously he recognises that he has been controlled.

Finally, see which side of your sheet has the most stones. Add a chip to the beliefs with stones on this side, and take one off the beliefs with stones on the other. If you take all the chips off a belief, then remove it from your sheet.

In this way do we influence the hearts and minds of our fellows.

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about the garden of arguments.

I’ll explain the maroon line later on too.


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