Note the time in political discussion

somebody's hands checking the time on a watch

When somebody has what they feel is a strong point, you can sense they want to force it on you. Check to see what the time is and write that in your notepad, then say something like “Ok, you have my attention on (the topic), please, tell me everything you know and please provide as much detail as possible”. 

During this time, you should be thinking of questions about talking points within their explanation. Jot these down in your notebook with a look of focus, briefly look at them in the eye, nod, and act totally engaged. During this time, you do not interrupt until they are done talking…or ever, its a sign of weakness. 

Tell them their time and why

figure of a man holding a stopwatch

Once you note how long it is from start to finish, just let them know the length of time it took if they told you “everything they know” (if people are more stand-offish, you might want to skip this step). Jot down the final time and determine the length of discussion.

If you have questions, go ahead and start asking them. If you choose, you can hold off on giving them their time. Quite frankly, I don’t usually mention it unless the talker starts getting angry or arrogant. Letting them know shows control over the conversation, provided its in a neutral delivery. You don’t want to come off as arrogant, but rather explanatory.

Thank them for the viewpoint, then let them know of the time of what they said. If it was 5 minutes, for example, then say “So that took about 5 minutes to cover (this topic). There’s a good possibility that there are years and years worth of different takes on this very topic from tons of info sources.” Tell them this is why you don’t believe in giving a right or wrong verdict. Instead, you absorb them and add them to your current knowledge on the matter.

Use with caution

Again, you might want to hold off on this method if the conversation is a bit heated. Because timing them on their knowledge could be viewed as insulting. When egos are at the forefront, nobody likes the idea that they weren’t in charge. By telling them their own time, it is a version of a power move which can be threatening to someone who is immersed in their own ways. When in doubt, its best to maybe skip and just roll with the questions.

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