Agree with them. That’s the technique! But don’t pretend, or they will know, and you will have failed to persuade them. You must agree after honest dialogue.

Honest dialog is one of humanity’s best tools for reaching lasting agreement, and starts with listening. If you can’t understand your fellow’s position, how can you possibly agree with them? Knowledge of their beliefs lets you know how you can get along with them peacefully, if possible. Don’t assume you know their beliefs; listen and ask questions. Respect their right to believe what they choose, even if you think they’re wrong.

Your fellow must participate in good faith. If they are bent on disadvantaging you with lies or concealment, you might listen if only to learn how best to defend against them. Strong fences make good neighbors, so be clear about your boundaries. Don’t waste too much time negotiating with those who are only interested in making a quick sale, or in coercing you. If you can stick around and defend the important things, maybe you’ll learn to get along in time.

If you can reach a position of mutual trust, you will have a basis for a valuable friendship. It is very easy to agree with valuable friends. You might even say it’s a sure way to persuade anyone: first become their valuable friend. Which begins with listening, finding something they believe you can agree with, and progresses by setting common goals.

We face a terrible reality. The people are divided into partisan camps, for mostly irrational causes. They migrate from independence into the red camp or blue camp and march in lockstep to whatever music the megaphones are blaring. Each camp distrusts the other, so no dialog can take place. Few are interested in finding things to agree about.

Instead, these camps fight for the power to compel obedience by the other. The efficacy of violent power and propaganda masquerading as truth are dangerous delusions. Force and deceit are persuasive, but not without cost. Propaganda erodes trust and increases the likelihood of strife. Violence hardens conflict into the cultural paradigm. We teach our children to crush the opposition, sacrifice the benefits of cooperation to the gods of war, and forfeit the abundance of peace.

No one of us can stop social momentum towards conflict, but each can choose to resist the tide. Our efforts matter, in small ways and large. To resist is simple: reach out to others personally regardless of partisan preferences, and find things to agree about. There’s only one gentle way out of the pickle we’re in, and it starts with wanting to persuade someone you’ve written off. Now that you’ve read this note, you know the best way to start. Good luck!