“We hope that after the next election Hughes will be represented by an MP whose views are informed by good science.”
That’s one of the aims of this website. We hope that’s your aim too.
But to achieve that, we need to encourage our fellow Hughes voters to join us. So let’s learn how to best influence them.
The internet badlands
The internet can be a nasty place at times. It’s so easy to fall into the habit of treating people in ways we’d never do face-to-face.
Political conversations are especially prone to angry or scornful arguments where neither side listens to the other. No-one is convinced. We are just all further polarised and further entrenched in our views.
No-one is going to change their opinion or their vote that way.
The experts tell us that this way of communicating doesn’t work, and other ways are better. I want to learn to do better, so I’ve put together 6 guidelines that might help.
1. Understand people
People aren’t blank slates. They already have viewpoints and an identity. Less than 10% of Aussies are hard core climate sceptics. The remaining people are open to change if they’re approached rightly.
2. Get to know the other person
Find out (if you don’t know already) what is important to the person you are speaking to. Building rapport will make for a more pleasant and effective conversation.
3. Decide whether to engage
It is probably best not to engage with hard core sceptics. But having conversations with those who are curious, open or passively sceptical may be the most important thing we can do to promote climate action.
4. Start with the person, not the science
Most Aussies accept that climate change is real. Either they don’t think action is urgent, or they feel the solutions are threatening to themselves or the economy. So presenting masses of scientific information isn’t likely to change their minds and isn’t the place to start.
Instead, find points of contact in their values and interests. Hopefully there are things you have in common with them. Then you will be better able to frame the discussion around values that are important to them.
5. Help people be their better selves
Once we understand people’s values, we can discuss how addressing climate change is something practical and economic that will be an extension of something they already think. Showing them solutions is much more likely to change their minds than hitting them with negative facts.
6. Understand the basic science
It still helps to have a broad understanding of the science. But it is more important to have some information about solutions and how they will save money in the long run.
Let’s be our best selves
Hopefully we can all learn what we need to know, learn how best to communicate, and use these guidelines to engage with our friends and relatives, online and face-to-face after the lockdown is over.
If we all do this, we may yet help shift opinion in our electorate from uncertain to committed.
Get the details
I’ve written this up, with more detail and references to help us all, in How to talk to people about climate change. Please check it out.