At our last Humanist Small Group, we had a presentation on nonviolent communication, a method of interaction pioneered by Marshall Rosenberg of the Center for Nonviolent Communication that seeks to “communicate in ways that inspire compassionate giving and receiving toward meeting the needs of all concerned.” It’s a way of getting a message across without escalating conflict. Among the books that discuss this technique are:
Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall B. Rosenberg,
Being Genuine: Stop Being Nice, Start Being Real by Thomas d’Ansembourg
For an example of something that is the opposite of nonviolent communication, see this statement by Richard Dawkins:
I lately started to think that we need to go further: go beyond humorous ridicule, sharpen our barbs to a point where they really hurt. Michael Shermer, Michael Ruse, Eugenie Scott and others are probably right that contemptuous ridicule is not an expedient way to change the minds of those who are deeply religious. But I think we should probably abandon the irremediably religious precisely because that is what they are – irremediable. I am more interested in the fence-sitters who haven’t really considered the question very long or very carefully. And I think that they are likely to be swayed by a display of naked contempt. Nobody likes to be laughed at. Nobody wants to be the butt of contempt.
The challenge for those of us who prefer nonviolent communication is not to just communicate our disagreements on substance with religious people to them nonviolently, but also to communicate our differences over tone to those with whom we agree on substance, like Richard Dawkins.
For instance, here is a post by P.Z. Myers in which he said he felt attacked by someone on his own side:
That was before I got to chapters 8 and 9, however, which open with very direct and personal attacks on me and on Pharyngula, atheists in general, and anyone who fails to offer religion its proper modicum of respect.
This dustup lead to quite a bit of back and forth sniping. I think it’s quite an art to disagree without being disagreeable.