Tips to Tame the Tone at any Table!

Did the 2016 campaign leave you craving civility from all sides? Did you long to communicate – without demonizing or diminishing others who disagree? Civility starts with each of us – but it quickly extends to others. How so?

My students enjoy the civility tasks central to all discourse in class. At first they simply imagine a table where all speak up, all feel heard and where differences add delight to all exchanges! Rich responses come back from every angle. 2016-election-toxin-lesson

Using posters, videos and back and forth exchanges, we show how tone skills help us to disagree in ways that value people who differ. We transform table (or circle) talk into an awesome exchange that plays with differences! Capture1

We disagree – while building goodwill with all who differ

Students are required to give evidence they learned key insights from those who differ. They listen to and learn from an opposing view (on a sizzling hot topic) and we all see how minds expand and delightful wonders emerge from any topic as we grow community together – based on differences among us. Why run from interesting questions such as “Should we welcome immigrants?”My students embrace such challenges. They also bring back feedback about how their skills worked beyond class.

They tend to agree that tone – comes in handiest across tables where narrow opinions and assumptions cascade into valid views on another side.

We may start class by imagining a mind-bending skill that builds goodwill, opens awesome opposing views on any topic, and helps us all to communicate with civility across differences. Student exchanges quickly go deeper from that launch pad, and they are challenged to take the lead in a country that sometimes forgets the power of civil circles that embrace diversity.

Students lead and we all learn to use tone tools in and beyond class

Why wait for leaders whose tone skills transform disagreement into an art that draws together differences  across  controversial topics. Why not lead ourselves with tips for tone to sidestep subtle barbs launched from folks who may lack basic tools to disagree well.

Looking to lead with a few top tone tools in your next roundtable discussion?

Rather than avoid disagreement or run from fun topics that fry our assumptions at times, we  enjoy sizzling exchanges with these five tools:

  1. Affirm another person’s thoughts before sharing your views on the other side – to show that you really heard, sorted, and valued them. (notice I did not say agree with them)
  2. Thank people for different ideas presented and show how you’ve tried or considered them further. Toss your own ideas into the ring to show and explain differences you see.
  3. Share personal experiences respectfully as another angle to think about together – rather than as a need to replace the original ideas that were presented. Remember you are looking to stir and learn from diverse sides of the issue.
  4. Ask two footed questions… rather than offer your own opinion too quickly. . For instance…  Have you thought about…? What if…? Could another possibility be …?
  5. Add unique ideas to the mix – to inspire with confidence – more as part of a good discussion – than a need to top the original points. Make sure you support your best ideas with concrete examples to help people see possibilities presented.

Congratulations, you’ve likely just drawn interesting exchanges from multiple talents to disagree while building goodwill among those who differ at your table.

Teach younger members to lead by taming their own tone skills

Teens love to navigate skills that open new possibilities in any circle! 209. Tone to Disagree - Poster Why not teach your teens to lead mind-bending tone skills at your next exchange. Why not help them to welcome and lead disagreements on hot topics – while building goodwill around your table! Can you imagine the magic!

Can you see tone skills advancing leadership for a finer world from teens to teachers to tots?

2 thoughts on “Tips to Tame the Tone at any Table!

  1. Kim@OCBeachTeacher

    This is such a valuable lesson, and I appreciate the tools! I don’t think many adults know how to disagree with civility (we weren’t taught) and maybe our students could be the ones to teach their parents some of these tips! Thank you for sharing.

  2. eweber Post author

    Kim thanks for the inspired ideas! I so agree – we were never taught. But luckily it’s never too late and I’ll be teaching an elder’s community these tools soon 🙂 What fun! They change the discourse so that communities roll forward with the best and most diverse possibilities often. So many more benefit – and that alone leaves students charged! Sadly – even a chat room which could go so deep to teach us treasures on several angles of vital issues – get truncated by poor tone skills that attack rather than propose possibilities we can run with. Families can break up over tone, and people feel silenced when they have awesome ideas that raise curiosity of issues we all care about. Words and Online Body Tone count enormously here and my own students literally get high on “serotonin chemicals” 🙂 when we use tone skills to go after hot topics together, NO TOPIC is off limits in my class – because the toughest topics allow us all to create innovation possibilities that navigate all sides past the problems so many face when attacks arise. Even depression can follow poor tone insistence – and it took me a lifetime to see the power punch of tone that enjoys ideas on the opposite sides. “Nuff said – except I am so grateful you are part of the TpT community, Kim!

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