Research suggests oral, not written, communication works best.
We’ve all been there: those times you need to argue your point of view to someone who you know disagrees with you. You immediately go to your keyboard and start to type out that 280-character tweet, the Facebook reply, or a paragraphs-long email. Surely the reason, logic, and sheer power of your written words will convince whoever it is who disagrees with you to see your point of view? But new research suggests these written arguments may not be the best approach.
That research was conducted by Juliana Schroeder, assistant professor of management of organizations at the Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley, and her colleagues. In Schroeder’s study of almost 300 people, participants were asked to watch, listen, and read arguments about subjects they agreed or disagreed with, including abortion, music, and war. They were asked to judge the character of the communicator and the quality or veracity of the argument. Schroeder’s team found that the participants who watched or listened to the communicator were less dismissive of their claims than when they read that communicator’s same argument.
加州大学伯克利分校哈斯商学院(Haas School of Business)的管理学助理教授朱莉安娜•施罗德(Juliana Schroeder)和她的同事完成了这份研究。Schroeder对近300人进行调查研究,参与者被要求观看、聆听和阅读他们同意或不同意的话题,包括堕胎、音乐和战争。他们被要求判断发布者的性格和争论的质量或真实性。Schroeder的研究小组发现,相比观看或者聆听发布者信息的参与者来说,阅读文字的参与者更容易对发布者有抵触情绪。
Schroeder’s findings have obvious implications for all forums for communication, especially those in the workplace. The idea for her study came from a newspaper article about a politician, she told the Washington Post:
One of us read a speech excerpt that was printed in a newspaper from a politician with whom he strongly disagreed. The next week, he heard the exact same speech clip playing on a radio station. He was shocked by how different his reaction was toward the politician when he read the excerpt compared to when he heard it. When he read the statement, the politician seemed idiotic, but when he heard it spoken, the politician actually sounded reasonable.
Schroeder’s research also found the participants who listened to or watched the communicators talk were also less likely to dehumanize them–a phenomenon where we subconsciously belittle or demonize the cognitive capabilities and moral attributes of people who hold views other than our own. So whether it’s convincing a stranger that #MeToo matters, discussing  politics with a friend, or explaining to other board members why your vision of the company is the right one, here are three tips to communicate effectively to give your argument the chance of being truly understood.
We live in a world of digital, primarily text-based communication. While that is great for convenience (you can read a message when you want to), Schroeder’s work suggests that’s horrible for times when you need to convince people who disagree with you, as people are more prone to dehumanize you when you communicate in writing.
“The intuitive tendency to dehumanize opponents stems, in part, from the fact that we’re unable to directly experience another person’s mind compared to our own,” Schroeder told me. “Instead, we have to work backwards from another person’s known belief (say, ‘Gun control is bad’) to his or her unknown thinking or reasoning. A seemingly nonsensical belief, the inference process goes, comes from a nonsensical mind.”
Of course, sometimes we have no option but to communicate via text. If this is the case, it’s imperative to be extra attentive to your choice of words and phrases. Using non-emotive, fact-based, to-the-point arguments are the best way to combat the reader’s natural penchant to dehumanize you.

Ideally, you’ll want to always choose to convey your argument in person if you can. “Hearing a message from a political [or other] opponent can humanize the opponent, compared to reading the same message,” said Schroeder via email. “One reason for this seems to be that variance in communicators’ natural paralinguistic cues in their voices (e.g., tone) can convey their thoughtfulness.”
In the workplace, speaking to someone in person often involves nothing more than walking a few doors down to their office. And that’s exactly what you should do if you need to convince that boss or colleague of why your blueprint for the company or project is the right one.

But even if you don’t work in the same building as your colleague, or live in the same state or country as one of your Facebook friends you’re arguing with about gun control, you’re not out of luck. It’s now easier than ever to communicate with people by voice or video call. So before sending an email or posting a message, open Skype or Facebook Messenger for an audio or video call so the recipient of your message can hear the variance and paralinguistic cues in your voice.
但是,即使你和你的同事不在同一栋楼里工作,或者和你的Facebook朋友争论枪支控制问题,你们住在同一个州或同一个国家,但距离遥远,这时候也有解决办法。现在用语音或视频电话与人交流比以往任何时候都容易。因此,在发送电子邮件或发布信息之前,打开Skype或Facebook Messenger进行音频或视频通话,这样你的信息接收者就能听到你声音中的细微起伏和副语言暗示。
Only as a last resort should you try to communicate with someone who you disagree with over social media. Twitter’s limited text allowance and social media users’ short attention spans make arguing your point an uphill battle.
社交媒体交流只是你与人争论的最后选择, Twitter的文字限制和社交媒体用户的短暂注意力,会让你的争论成为一场艰苦的战斗。