Many of us have been in conversations, whether in person or on social media, where viewpoints clashed, emotions escalated and not much was resolved.

Anger and frustration are often the result in these instances, but there are better means to engage in disagreements. As communicators, civil discourse is the ideal means of approaching confrontation and may be the solution to current issues.

News and social media display a very distinct form of communication used in the United States. Opposing sides refuse to hear each other’s perspectives, educate themselves about different views or compromise for the good of the whole. This has led to extreme polarization of the U.S. political system and to the riots, protests and other issues that we see today. Minimal progress is made on national issues, and decisions leave a great number of people feeling alienated.

Civil discourse is the idea of communicating to gain understanding and reaching a well thought-out decision. In order to utilize civil discourse effectively, we must revert to the basics of communication. Focus should be placed on listening to understand, gathering reliable facts, composing well thought-out arguments and accepting others’ opinions or compromise. These steps together allow for the sharing of ideas without emotions rising.

The current absence of civil discourse in communication is alarming. Listening and compromising must become cornerstones in conversation. If each of us implements small changes to become more effective communicators, we can improve our interactions with others and the future of a nation.

Thomas Schultz, La Crosse