We can't always prevent far-right propaganda spreading, but by talking to people who've been influenced, you can get them to question the lies, and reconsider their views.
We need to fight against divide and rule tactics. We can only win in workplaces and communities if we work together.
People are much more likely to listen to people that they know – that’s why we need these conversations to be happening.
The video below will help you plan these conversations, and use techniques to keep them on track.
Here are some steps where you start, manage, then finish the conversation, with clear aims for each stage.
Begin your conversation with someone by making clear there are no taboos, and they can speak their mind without fear of being judged or labelled. You want them to open up, voice their concerns, and reflect upon their reasoning.
Ask questions in a way that lets people express themselves and doesn't make them feel they're being cornered. Good ways to begin a question include:
You may find what they say offensive but try to distinguish between the person and their view – they're not necessarily a bad person, they've just taken on some dodgy opinions. Try to find out how and why.
Aim to encourage the person to explore their own reasoning behind an opinion. Citing statistics, or exposing their ignorance won't do this, it'll just make them defensive. It's likely their views are driven by emotion rather than facts, so your aim is to gently steer them to explore those emotions.
This means establishing trust and understanding. Focus on the person's reasoning rather than their conclusions, and highlight points of agreement between you. Respond to them with phrases like:
When someone states a very hard line position based on emotion, it can be difficult to progress the conversation further. A good technique here is to ask questions that get them to loosen their position, even if it's ever so slightly.
So if they say:
"There are just too many immigrants!"
"How many should we allow?"
"What determines that number?"
"What should we do when there are staff shortages in the NHS?"
The difficult question technique forces people to consider carefully before answering. One example is:
"Is your dislike of working with your Muslim neighbours more important to you than keeping the youth club open?"
Pause and wait silently after asking the question, until they answer.
Use phrases like "some might say..." to introduce an opposing view, so it doesn't become a personal argument.
You're unlikely to change someone's mindset after a single conversation. But you will encourage reflection that could later lead to change. So try to end the first conversation having established a channel of communication you can keep going.
Let the person know you enjoyed talking to them and learning about their concerns. Invite them to talk again in a few days time.
You'll learn who the far-right are, practical tips on how to campaign against them, and how to hold difficult conversations with people who may have been influenced by far-right propaganda.
Download report (pdf)
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