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Polite Politics:
How to express yourself without dissing your friends

by Emil Post

Oxymorons | But, But, But | Give A Little

But, but, but
“But it’s true, Emil, President Schmoe is an idiot.”
Doesn’t matter, my friend. True or not, it doesn’t serve the exchange.
“So am I supposed to lie, Emil?” No. You just need to be a little cleverer.
You can be clever, can’t you? You of the superior political point of view.
“But, Emil…?”
Exactly, my friend.
“What…”
But. “But” is your best friend in a discussion. It allows you open a thought or question with something positive, or innocuous, something that will get your friend’s attention. For example: President Schmoe is a strong leader, but what concerns me about policy B is that it hasn’t taken into account X, Y and Z.

This tactic does several things for you. It opens with something your friend can agree with. It can be a true statement for both of you. You just happen to think we’re being strongly led in the wrong direction. It focuses the discussion on the policy… not the person. As humans, we get emotionally tied up with our leaders far more easily than with a policy. It allows you say everything you want to about the policy without even saying the policy is stupid, just that there are things that concern you about it. Finally, your friend will actually listen, eager to answer all of your “concerns.” And in listening, they may just see a little kernel of wisdom here and there in your analysis.

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