THE HUMAN METHOD
AKA HUMAN PRACTICE
AKA HUMANITY PRACTICE
Subtitle: I just didn't know what else to do.
In the wake of the 2016 election, many people, myself included, threw our hands in the air and cried "What can they possibly be thinking?!" If you've ever wondered what in the fuck is going on in the mind of a Trump supporter, The Human Method is an extremely subversive way of finding out. This technique, which I probably did not invent, but which I named and documented, will actually give you a great deal of insight into the minds of people radically and unfathomably different from you and me.
The Human Method is a merely a tool and here are some of the things I've found it to be good for:
- Humanizing the other side.
- Gathering data.
- Removing my ego from the equation. I find this liberating and refreshing. Also, it makes me feel safe.
- Broadening my perspective.
- Finding common ground.
What it's NOT good for:
- Changing someone's mind.
- Winning an argument.
If you're trying to change someone's mind or win an argument, good luck. I wish you more success than I have had. If you find a good method for doing this, please let me know.
There are certainly times when a full-throated articulation of some fucking facts is called for. There are times when you need to call out actions as dangerous and/or unacceptable. But if you're not in one of those situations, give this a try. Since I began using this method I've had some of the most fascinating conversations of my life.
- MOST IMPORTANT RULE. Cultivate genuine curiosity. People can smell a rat. If you go into a conversation with the intent of changing someone's mind, they can tell, and it makes them argumentative and hostile. You must be genuinely curious to hear about their point of view, their experiences and their beliefs. All humans are innately curious about other people, and tapping into that mindset will stand you in good stead for the rest of your life.
Make no statements. Only ask questions. Ask open-ended, non-leading questions and let them steer the conversation. The Human Method has no goal, really, so it doesn't matter that much what you talk about. I think it's best to stick to things where your opinions differ wildly, as that is the most interesting stuff. Here's some examples of questions:
- What do you think about ____ ?
- Why do you think that?
- Have you ever been affected by ____ ?
- What's that like?
- What do you think will be the outcome of ____ ?
- If you were in charge of ____ what would you do?
- What's your ideal ____ ?
- Don't you think ____ is going to be a complete disaster for the country?
- Don't you think that ____ is racist?
- Questions where you're trying to trap them in a contradiction or expose a fallacy in their own beliefs. Again, this method is not for showing people the error of their ways. It's purely for investigative purposes. Pretend to be a scientist, not a lawyer.
- If they say something you agree with, you can say "I agree with that" or something along those lines.
- If you disagree with everything they say, if every word out of their mouth is an anathema to your very existence, you can say "Thank you for sharing your perspective/experience/story".
- If THEY ask YOU a question, answer it as simply and unprovocatively as possible, and then ask them another question right away.
- Always thank them for taking the time to chat.
That's basically it.
Again, (VERY IMPORTANT) the point of this exercise is not to convince anyone of anything, or win an argument. Some people want to argue, but they will be unable to argue with you if you use this method. I've never had someone successfully argue with me while I used this method. People who just want to argue will get bored and fuck off. And that's totally fine.
Finally, using the Human Method does not mean you agree with the other person. It doesn't mean you condone their actions, or endorse their perspectives, or validate their opinions. It just means you're interested to hear the experiences and perspectives of another person. It doesn't mean you're not fighting tooth and nail for your own causes/beliefs/dreams.
If you give it a shot, I'm VERY interested to hear how it goes for you. Also, if you have any questions I'd LOVE to hear them (and maybe try to answer them).