Chapter 8 PERFECTING COLUMBO
Summary:Being thoughtful and reasonable in dialogue with others over differing views is not something that comes naturally, but we can practice! And that practice will move our discussions along in a better direction.
“In any encounter, there are two times when the pressure is off: before the conversation begins and after it’s over. Those are perfect times to focus on improving your technique. Peter reminds us to always be “ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). There are three things you can do to ready yourself to respond. You can anticipate beforehand what might come up. You can reflect afterward on what took place. And in both cases, you can practice the responses you think of during these reflective moments so you’ll be prepared for the next opportunity.” (Location: 1,773)
Note:If I want to love my neighbor to the best of my ability, it is worth my time to think about our conversation after the fact in order to evaluate how I might be more clear in my questions or comments in our next interaction.
“When I ask myself about the three skills of an ambassador—knowledge (an accurately informed mind), wisdom (an artful method), and character (an attractive manner)—I have something specific to focus on. Did I know enough about the issue, or do I need to brush up on something for next time? Could I have maneuvered with more tactical wisdom in the conversation? Was my manner attractive? Did I act with grace, kindness, and patience?” (Location: 1,802)
Note:Good review of the first chapter.
“Sometimes I practice this way when I’m alone in the car, listening to talk radio. After hearing a few comments by the host or a caller, I turn the volume down and then pretend it’s my job to respond to what was said. It’s almost like being on live radio, except if I say something foolish, no one hears.” (Location: 1,814)
Note:Or with books. If we take time to stop and try to respond to an author, we can begin to think for ourselves.
“As a general rule, go out of your way to establish common ground. Whenever possible, affirm points of agreement. Take the most charitable read on the other person’s motives, not the most cynical one. Treat them the way you would like others to treat you if you were the one in the hot seat.” (Location: 1,912)
Note:This is all part of loving the other person, which is extremely hard to view when we feel as though we are being attacked, not our views. One of the reasons we have gotten to such a point as unable to have reasonable dialogue in our current situation is because we have not enabled a culture of interacting with ideas. We need to offer this to others, explaining that we can disagree with them and their ideas but not hate them.
“In this chapter, we focused on refining your tactical effectiveness as a Christian ambassador by exploring three ways you can improve your skill at Columbo. First, try to anticipate objections you might face, and then think of questions in advance. This allows you to formulate responses before the pressure is on. Second, take some time for self-assessment after each encounter. Ask how you could have phrased questions more effectively or conducted yourself differently in the conversation. Enlist a friend in the process, especially if he was with you during the dialogue. Finally, if you think of anything new, work out the details in advance. Write your ideas down, construct a tactically sound dialogue, then role-play your response—and potential pushbacks from the other side—out loud, by yourself or with a friend.” (Location: 1,936)