International Cycling Union: 3 EPIC Failures

This week the International Cycling Union stripped Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles as a result of their investigation into his use of performance enhancing drugs.

While I am sure they feel quite good about their pursuit of “justice” allow me to point out the ways in which this is an epic, epic failure.

1. The failed their Purpose
Professional sports organizations are in the entertainment industry. They may indeed promote healthy exercise and provide competitive outlets for a small group of elite folks but at the very core of what they do they are there to entertain. Bicycle racing is a fringe sport at best, not nearly the following of the three biggies, football, baseball and basketball, not any where close to international sports like Soccer, not even approaching NASCAR in terms of popularity, mind-share, or revenue.

The biggest thing that has happened in the world of cycling in the last decade was Lance Armstrong. He put them on the map of sport. He brought them a larger audience. He added entertainment value beyond what they could have hoped.

And this is the thanks they give him.

When you fail at your purpose you risk becoming irrelevant.

2. They failed at Parity
Of course there is an argument that says we don’t want cheaters to win. That has been the argument that has fueled the pursuit of Armstrong even though he passed all the required drug tests when he was competing. So let me ask this:

What if they found out that EVERYONE in the races was taking performance enhancing drugs? Is it really cheating then?

In an article in the New York Times, Travis Tygart, chief exec of the US anti-doping agency said, there was still more to do to clean up cycling because there were “many more details of doping that are hidden, many more doping doctors, and corrupt team directors, and the omerta has not yet been fully broken.”

If that is the admitted case why aren’t they still looking at ALL the competitor’s blood samples? You can’t hide behind fairness and parity when you only go after a select few people. There are probably hundreds of competitors who will remain on the record as Tour finishers who cheated just as badly but didn’t win.

When you fail to adhere to your own trumpeted standards you risk becoming irrelevant.

3. They failed their Patrons
I may be alone in this but as a member of the viewing public I am not happily cheering for the pursuit of pushing doping out of cycling. I only got interested in it the entertainment value of the sport because of Lance’s pursuits. I don’t care that they’ve finally “proven” he used drugs.

They’ve lost me as a customer.

Not because of the scandal’s, not because of any supposed taint on fairness, but because they taken the guy who made them all the money and tossed him under the bus in some sort of holier-than-thou crusade. They’ve put the sport ahead of the consumer. They’ve tried to reconfigure their “product” right out there in the eyes of the viewing public and in my humble opinion they’ve screwed up the product as a result.

When you fail at understanding the customer you run the risk of becoming irrelevant.

Simply put, for me as a customer, the world of professional cycling has become irrelevant once again. Lance brought them to my attention and I watched even after he finished competing but this latest round of circus performances has turned me off completely and I doubt they’ll get me back.

Where has you seen other businesses fall prey to these kinds of failures?

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Customer Communications: Where to Start

How many time have you looked at the front page of a company web site and read something almost exactly like this:

The market leader in providing innovative solutions that transform businesses. Serving more than 67% of the fortune 500.

Drives me nuts.

Too often the starting point for customer communications start with the question, “What do we want to say?”

When you start there you suddenly find yourself with all kinds of due diligence facts, historical anecdotes, feature, functions and benefits…and so do all of your competitors. As a result everyone starts sounding very much the same.

The game changes though when you start from the position of asking, “What do we want the customer to do?”

Yes, it seems quite simple, particularly if you think the answer is, we want the customer to buy. But do you really just want them to buy? Aren’t you really MORE interested in them “succeeding”?

Typically we don’t just want customers, we want satisfied customers. So the answer to the question” what do we want them to do” is, “we want them to use our product or service to solve their problem.”

Of course in order to be able to start communicating from the perspective of solving the customers problem we have to now what the problem is and how your product or service solves it. THEN you have to let the customer know that you understand the problem.

So instead of:

  • We have
  • We are
  • We provide

You start with

  • You want
  • You need
  • You can

Try this experiment:

Take any of the communications you currently use to describe what you do and set them aside. Start the piece over with a description of the problem you solve. Next throw in a few lines about how your solution is unique in terms of what it does for the customer. You only get to talk about the problem and the unique solution, NOT your organization.

Now go look at your competitors communications and see if you don’t recognize how this approach starts to make you stand out.

When was the last time you saw a company talk more about you as a customer than they do about themselves?

 

Monday Night’s Last Call

If you’re reading this then you probably have some opinion on the last call of the Monday Night Football game between Seattle and Green Bay.

Here are some interesting tidbits I’ve been able to dig up from around the web:

  • The official who signaled the touchdown has three days training experience at a referee academy in Utah and has, until now, only refereed high school and junior college games.
  • The Packers were favored by four and a half points. As a result of the call they lost, had it gone the other way they would have won by five points. The estimated swing in betting revenues on that one call was $300 MILLION dollars.
  • The NFL’s statement defending the call has a six paragraph introduction and cites three different rules that come in to play.
  • And this provocative bit: The Lingerie Football League, yes there is such a thing, has issued a statement that some of the referees they have fired as being unfit to officiate their games are now officiating in the NFL as replacements.

Crazy eh? Outrageous! Something HAS to be done doesn’t it?

But why?

The National Football League is in the entertainment business and I can tell you that from the perspective of a vociferous Seattle Seahawks fan, my wife, there was nothing more entertaining than that last minute win. (I was pulling for Green Bay)

Doesn’t it make it more fun having go guess when your team will pull the whammy card and get an incredibly ridiculous call that changes the game? Ok, well what about if the opponent gets whammied?

Isn’t it entertaining to listen to the announcers fumble all over themselves to be incredulous, and professional, and confused all at the same time?

Isn’t it entertaining to wonder what is going on in those guys heads when they make such horrific calls?

No?

Ok, I know all about “the integrity of the game” and “player safety” and all that. I realize you could start to lose part of the fan base if the officiating becomes too farcical, not to mention the potential for corruption creeping in to officiating…if you get really bad calls every game it is easier to hide a corrupt official making them on purpose…but really it is about entertainment…and I’m still chuckling about the Monday night game two days later.

The bottom line is that the league, and in particular the commissioners office, are starting to look quite foolish no matter how you slice it. We have to place some blame on the owners too who have control over the purse strings.

But we’re the fans. In truth we hold the power.

What if, in every NFL stadium this coming Sunday, the seats were empty when the game started?  I’m not suggesting people kiss off the money they’ve spent on tickets, just that across the league people boycott the opening kickoff. Can you imagine the coverage?

  • Empty stadiums for the national anthem and probably most of the first series of plays.
  • HUGE crowds outside the stadium standing around waiting to to enter.
  • Fans filtering in throughout almost the entire first quarter.

My quick web research seems to indicate that NFL stadiums bring in about 1.2 million dollars in concession revenue per game. Divide that by four and you potentially impact a quarter of a million dollars per stadium. There are 13 Sunday games this week so you get close to three and a half million dollars in impacted concession revenues.

That ought to get someones attention don’t ya think?

Let’s see if we can get Mr. Hochuli and the rest of ’em back by flexing our power as consumers. Let’s boycott the opening kickoff!

What do you think? Would an opening kickoff boycott get the attention of the league? Perhaps more importantly…could it be pulled off?

 

 

 

AT&T, iPhone 5, and What We’ve Got Here is a Failure to Communicate

The stats were in a week or so ago…iPhone 5 set a bunch of records for pre-order volume.

As I mentioned here only a few short weeks prior to that my trusted iPhone 3gs went for a swim so I duly made my way to the AT&T store to leverage my upgrade discount and order my iPhone on “opening day”.

Of course, because I hadn’t called at midnight the night before or waited in line on the sidewalk I didn’t get in to order my phone until the afternoon. By that time I was told that orders being taken were expected to ship within two weeks, rather than the anticipated one week, but that I would be able to track my order status online.

The picture above is my actual order status. Notice anything? Somehow, in ten days, according to this, the is no difference in status from the moment when I was standing talking to the AT&T employee in the store to now. My order is processing.

I put this in the “failed customer self service” folder.

Order status checkers like this one are create tools to reduce call volume. The more customers who can see what is going on with their order the fewer will clog the phone lines with questions about shipping dates.

Unless of course you fail to update that status at all.

Not only does this produce more phone activity but it also sends a subtle message that either you’re hiding something or you don’t care all that much about the customer.

So why might a system like this show NO activity over ten days?

  • We’re slammed and the system is overloaded
  • We don’t know from the supplier when the items will be available
  • We now know it will take four weeks so we’re avoiding telling you
  • We didn’t create enough differentiate status levels in the system

In truth the reason doesn’t matter, the communication does. Even if “the system” posted a status that said “we’re backlogged and hope to clear the jam buy the following date” it would be more communication than “processing”. My order has been “processing” since I first said, “Hey, I’m here to order and iPhone 5.”!!

If you’re going to use a customer self service tool like a status checker you need to remember a couple key rules for success:

Rule 1: Keep the information up to date
Now to be fair the information on my status above may BE up to date. My order may not have moved at all. But you would think that it would have processed by now and just be awaiting inventory. But is does not appear to be up to date. By leaving it mostly blank the system has failed at its two primary purposes: reducing call volume and communicating status to the customer.

Rule 2: Communicate, even if it is bad news
It is far better to know that my order will be delayed than it is to keep guessing. By communicating even the bad news you communicate that you care about the customer. Trying to hide the bad news says you care more about your image than you do about your customer.

Rule 3: Think with a customer perspective
Too often these systems glitches become internal finger pointing or design arguments. If you failed to think like a customer during design think like one during the problem period. I wonder if anyone at AT&T is asking how customers feel about a dead order status?

Customer self service tools are great when they’re firing on all cylinders. When they’re not you need to react quickly, communicate effectively, and think like the customer.

What other types of “customer self service” tools have you run across and how effectively were they managed?

Bonus points if you know the movie that is referenced in the title of today’s post.  🙂

 

How Likely Are You to Recommend?

If you’ve purchased anything online lately, or even walked into  a store where you’ve had to interact with a sales person, odds are fairly high that  you’ve received the follow on questionnaire that asks:

“How likely are you to recommend us to a friend?”

It has become almost startling now as my iPhone receives that email with the survey attached before I even walk out of the store. It also seems to me that I am being asked this question more and more frequently.

Now, as a marketing guy I understand that… companies are trying to calculate their Net Promoter Score.  They really just want to know how well they’re doing.

Just briefly today I want to pose some questions that are worth considering when you start to think about using Net Promoter Score as a measure of how well your organization is serving your customers.

1. Is the answer to the question of whether someone will promote you or not reflective of your overall relationship or just the most recent transaction?

I have had great experiences with front desk people at hotels, airlines folks, cell phone sales people (and just as many bad ones) and my response to the question of whether I’ll promote or not is typically based on that most recent few minutes.

That means that in order to get an accurate picture of my relationship to any of those businesses they’d need to get me to answer that question after every significant transaction and calculate an average. I can guarantee you I won’t fill out the survey every time!

As a result it is important to remember that:
Timing and frequency are crucial to get right

2. Does a customer’s positive response mean that they’ll actually promote your organization?

Obviously that differs person to person and situation by situation but it cannot be assumed that “yes I WOULD promote” equates to “yes I WILL promote”.

Rather than asking the blanket “How likely are you to recommend us to a friend?” it becomes more useful to suggest where and when you might recommend: “How likely are you to recommend us to a friend who is looking to book a vacation?”

Remember:
Providing context makes it easier for the customer who wants to promote you to recognize the opportunity to promote you.

3. How can you make it easier for your customers to promote you?

Asking the blanket question gets you a philosophical response, providing context makes it easier for the customer to consider action, but you’re still asking them to engage in creative effort.

  • Why not, instead, provide customers with a couple of options: “If you’re willing to promote us would you please like our page on facebook?” or “If you had a great experience with us today would you be willing to post the following tweet: etc. etc. etc.”

Remember:
The easier you make it for someone to promote you the more likely it is that they will.

Rather than just asking folks if they’d be willing to promote your organization provide them with the ways and means to do so and you’ll find you get much more mileage out of the practice of capturing net promoter information.

When was the last time you answered positively on a “will you recommend us” survey? How quickly did you actually recommend and what means did you employ?

Poor Customer Experience…at Disneyland?!?

Hello, my name is Curtis and I am a Disneyland fanatic.

Friends call me for advice on how to best experience the parks. They get a two page email back.

I live in Colorado and I have an annual pass.

It’s just that bad.

We were just in southern California for freshman orientation at Azusa Pacific University. After a tearful good bye with our oldest son we headed over to the park for some “amusement”.

I never thought I’d say this but I walked away significantly underwhelmed by our visit.

I can remember not too long ago when you could get in for under $50. The price for visiting one park for one day is now $87. Okay, I get the fact that costs rise so, it hurts but I’ll still play along. Of course if you want to visit BOTH Disneyland AND California Adventure on the same day that will set you back $125.

So you would think you’d see the service level rise to match the price increase wouldn’t you?

Nope.

We experienced no fewer than five ride outages in one day. Mind you that’s only counting the times we were in line for a ride and it went out. Who knows how many there were when we weren’t looking.

Queue management, something Disney is known for, was sorely lacking with lines spilling out into walkways more often than not on a day that was busy but no where close to the worst we’ve seen.

Worse yet cast members in those situations seemed continually put out by the trouble of having to manage the flow of people.

Three different times we were told that a clearly displayed offer of a discount didn’t apply to our situation because of some fine print that was not readily published.

I walked away feeling like Disneyland was telling me that I was fortunate just to be able to be in their presence so I should overlook the inconveniences.

Now, you could argue it was a hot day, large crowd, a couple of less than stellar cast members working queues, etc but those would all be excuses not reasons. There is no “reason” for poor service.

You might argue that I’ll go back so there is no real pressing need to fix any of these issues. You’d probably be right, I probably will go back. But then…I’ve never talked bad about Disneyland before and I am now.

How often do we allow circumstances to move from being excuses to being “reasons” for failed service? How often do we portray to customers that we just can’t care for EVERYBODY? How bad is one negative blog post about poor customer experience?

If hot temperatures, large crowds, and less than stellar cast members are becoming the norm I won’t need an annual pass any longer. I’ll just go one or two days in the off season to get my fix and keep my fond memories of great customer experience at Disneyland in tact.

When was the last time a company failed to meet your expectations as a customer?

Three Possible Reactions to “Those Moments”

For the last four years or so I have been a satisfied iPhone 3gs user. I skipped over the 4 series and have been patiently awaiting the arrival of the 5…supposedly only about a month away now.

This morning, after driving my daughter to school and negotiating a couple of emails on behalf of my son, I hurried off to the gym. I got in a pretty decent mile swim and headed to the hot tub for a bit of a warm down.

It was then that I discovered my iPhone had been in my pocket for the entire swim.

This was one of “those moments”.

You think a hundred thoughts all at once.: “I wonder if…”, “Maybe it will…”, “Perhaps I can…”, “Man, why did I…”, “If only they hadn’t…”, “I need to…”

In the end you have three options. You can rant, you can weep, or you can laugh. Of course the option you choose has a lot to do with the seriousness of the moment and the degree of loss but those are just influences.

This morning I chose to laugh.

At the moment my iPhone is sitting, sealed in a bag of rice, in hopes that I might be able to salvage something from it. I’m not quite sure how much is synched to the cloud…I’ll work on discovering that later this morning. I know I can’t go a full month without a phone though so my waiting for the 5 may turn out to have been in vain.

I hope that if you have one of “those moments” today you’ll be able to laugh at it too.

What happened the last time you had one of those moments?

Post Olympic Depression: 3 Lessons to be Learned

Do you feel that empty space today? That sense that something has gone missing?

It’s not that I watched every minute of the coverage. Shoot, I even missed some of the events I really wanted to see. But it was just good to know I could check in throughout the day, or even have the games running in the background.

And now the that Olympics are over many of us are feeling that post Olympic depression.

So what is it about the Olympics that captivate us to the point where we miss them when they’re gone?

  • Is it the guys like Oscar Pistorius, the South African who made it to the semi-finals of the 400M as a double amputee?
  • Or perhaps you like the story of Sherab Zam the Bhutanese archer, yes, Bhutan is a country, who was just happy to be competing as one of the two Olympians from her country?
  • Maybe you’re more a fan of the history makers like Phelps or Bolt.

I love it all. While I also have to confess I feel a similar sense of loss at the end of the World Cup every four years…it isn’t exactly the same. So what can we learn from our post Olympic depression? I’d like to share three lessons.

1. We like friendly competition.
There is a different spirit in Olympic competition, a sense from the athletes that this is one big friendly stage. Sure there are rivalries, even intense ones, but the sheer number of smiles, handshakes, and high fives that happen between medalists and non-medalists is, I think, unique to the Olympics.

There is a joy in this competition that goes beyond monetary value. Sure there are competitors there who are looking to gain recognition that turns into endorsements, some that even admit that, but those examples are overwhelmed by the number of athletes thrilled to be there representing their countries.

Even if we don’t always agree with the rules, there ARE rules and a world stage upon which they are, typically, equitably applied. Not just within the competitions themselves but rules regarding who can compete. There seems to be a sense of something bigger there.
Of course the antithesis of this is political campaigning…maybe that’s why we dislike election commercials so much?

2. We get a bigger world view
Now be honest how many of us even knew Bhutan was a country? How many of us knew that they were listed by the UN as the happiest nation on earth, so much so that the UK, France, and the US are studying them as a nation?

The Olympics give us a chance to look at the people of the world as people, not as political allies or enemies. We recognize effort and excellence beyond economic or socio-political borders. Do I still find myself lugging around an old bias, hoping the US beats the Russians? Sure I do. But if the Russians put in a good effort and beat us I’m cool with that too.

The window of the Olympics allows us to look at the world through a different lens, perhaps a more relevant one, certainly a friendlier one.

3. We like the emotion of it.
I’m convinced that part of the allure of the games is the emotion that goes into four years, if not a lifetime, of effort compressed into a few moments of intense competition. This isn’t one of 162 baseball games in a season or one of 16 football games. For many of these athletes it is their one shot. The ups the emotional ante HUGELY.

Most days we don’t tap into our world at that level of emotion. We’re just trying to keep our noses above water and keep things on an even keel. The Olympics become emotionally cathartic as we share in the feelings of agony or ecstasy with the athletes.

So what if our regular lives were more like that?

What is we looked to make an competitive situation a friendly competition? What if we made time to regularly broaden our world view? What if we allowed ourselves to feel emotion more deeply more regularly and still had to pick ourselves up off the track for the post event interview? What if our “goal” wasn’t just “winning” but was, instead, competing with honor, side by side with people of different backgrounds, in the spirit of friendship?

Maybe life would be a little more like the Olympics and we’d all be a little less depressed when the games themselves are over.

 

What was your favorite Olympic moment from London 2012?

Real Tolerance: Understanding vs. Conversion

A couple weeks ago I, while on a flight to Washington DC, found myself in conversation with a guy who makes documentaries for a living.

It started out as a chat about camera lenses and moved quickly into a discussion on his favorite topic, global warming. Something about the early bits of our talk must have put him at ease because he started to REALLY go off on the COMPLETE stupidity of conservatives. I told him I thought the trouble was that as a society we were becoming so polarized that it was becoming less and less possible to have rational dialogue.

He nodded in agreement then shared with stunned amazement the example of a friend of his from college, someone he had sheared life with, been in a band with, gotten drunk with who had become a university professor, adopted a conservative perspective and, in his words, become an idiot. When he finally cycled back to global warming I took a risk.

“You know”, I said, “I actually come from more of a conservative perspective myself. I don’t disagree with your evidence of ice caps melting or temperatures rising but what is missing for me is proof of causality. If it really the humans fault then we should see some correlation between temperature change and population growth coupled with industrialization. I just haven’t seen that piece.”

He launched…

Him: “Well, do you believe in science?”
Me: “Yeah, I was a science major in college. I believe in the scientific method and the repeatability of results, sure.”
Him: “No, I mean to you believe in evolution?”
Me: “No, I’m more of a creation guy.”
Him: “Pfft, so you think the earth was created in just seven days?!?”
Me: “Not necessarily, Genesis says, ‘there was morning and there was evening, the first day’, in Kansas that is 24 hours. In northern Alaska that is a year. I’m open to the idea that the Genesis days could be time periods and any length.”

I must have passed some sort of entrance exam at that point because he began to share his views on global warming in an animated but not antagonistic manner. When we got to the key point on human causality, after careful previous argument, decently justified statistics, and seemingly rational assessment of potential results, he said, “It has to be humans, there is no other answer.”

Really? That’s all you got? It HAS to be?

Of course I didn’t say that out loud. We finished the conversation amicably, even swapped contact information and went our separate ways as long flight seatmates seemingly always do.

So what just happened there, in my opinion, was a small example of a contrast of goals.

My goal in the conversation was understanding. I wanted to both clarify my position, (not all conservatives are stupid and we need to be able to dialogue), and understand his, (conservatives are stupid particularly when it comes to global warming). His goal in the conversation was conversion. He wanted to prove to an idiot conservative that they were wrong and he was right. In doing so he stereotyped me, made assumptions, and he ascribed motive. All included in the no-no list I posted last week.

As a result of that conversation a couple of truths about tolerance became newly clear to me:

1. True tolerance is about wide goals, not narrow goals.
As I said last week tolerance begins from a point of disagreement. Thus the widest goal under the heading of tolerance is understanding. But too often the conversation narrows to conversion, then narrows still further to debate when conversion seems to be failing. This is where the hate speech starts to come in to play.

2. True tolerance is about compromise, not all or nothing.
Too often cries for “tolerance” are really just masks for pushing forward a particular agenda. You can tell this by the narrowness of goals and the speed with which the conversation turns to claims of hatred. There will ALWAYS be points of disagreement. You can choose to focus the conversation there, narrow goal, or work to find points of compromised agreement, wide goal.

The recent hoopla between the LGBT community and chicken eating conservative Christians has highlighted the fact that these two camps hold COMPLETELY different view of life, the world, and everything. There are obviously, without doubt, narrowly focused sub groups on either side of the debate, but even in THIS instance there are points of tolerant compromise that can be found. We just need to be willing to find points of agreed upon compromise through tolerant dialogue.

What is it like when you find yourself in a truly tolerant dialogue?

 

 

 

Five Guidelines for Having Tolerant Conversations

A number of years ago I had a set of Mormon missionaries show up at my door. As an evangelical Christian pastor I probably wasn’t going to be the easiest conversation that they had in the neighborhood.

I told the guys that we could have a conversation but that we needed to agree to a couple of caveats first.

1. We needed to agree we were both seeking to serve God as best we could.
2. We needed to agree that we were not both right.
3. We needed to agree that we were going to focus on the first agreement rather than the second.

You see if we focused on the second agreement then the conversation would center on trying to prove each other wrong, a debate. But if we focused on the first agreement then we’d be focusing on trying to reach a mutual understanding of what it meant to serve God.

We engaged in an ongoing conversation over about three months. In the end we parted as friends each with a deeper understanding of the others position but neither of us having “budged”.

That experience helped me learn a couple things about what it means to have a “tolerance” conversation. I’d like to share five guidelines for having conversations between folks of disparate points of view.

1. You have to understand that tolerance means disagreement.

You don’t “tolerate” things, people, or positions with which you agree. That means if you’re going to enter into conversations that are categorized as being “tolerant” they will be with people that hold a position that is opposed to yours. That being said you have to determine if your goal in the conversation is to “convert” someone to your point of view, or to help each other reach a deeper level of understanding.

2. You have to hold stereotypes at bay.

It’s easy to label someone based on stereotypes. Imagine a conversation between someone who has been labeled as a “conservative christian” and someone described as a “liberal democrat”. Each of those descriptions carry with them enough baggage to incur more charges than a transatlantic airline ticket.

If you try to have a conversation through the lenses of stereotypes you wind up ascribing meaning to words that may not be intended. Unfortunately it is almost impossible to completely ignore or erase stereotypes. Recognizing that they’re there and may be at play is important in creating an atmosphere of understanding. Holding off stereotypes is critical.

3. You have to avoid “always” and “never”

Absolutes are not only grandiose but they very rarely accurately apply. It’s easy to say to someone  “You people always…” or “You just never…” That type of statement not only creates a blanket label but it also invokes stereotypes. The truth is that you never know if someone “always” or “never” because you aren’t always around them, so let the absolutes go.

4. You cannot ascribe motive

This one is huge and is, perhaps, the biggest challenge. It is easy to accuse someone of “hating”, which is an internal motive, because you interpret their external actions through your own set of experiences.

By way of example: if I make the statement that I am not sure where I stand on the issue of same sex marriage, I know conservative Christians who would react by saying that I am backsliding and abandoning biblical truth. At the same time there would be those in the LGBT community who would quickly label me as one of those Christian haters. In either case they’d be wrong specifically because they’d be ascribing motive to my words.

Unfortunately the issue is far more complex than whether or not to allow two people to be defined as a married couple but if you jump straight to ascribing motive to my words then there is no opportunity to engage in the kind of deeper dialogue that fosters understanding.

5. You have to decide what will be and acceptable outcome to the conversation

This is where we come full circle. Remember that the starting point was disagreement, hence the need for tolerance. If the only acceptable outcome for the conversation is converting someone to your point of view then the risk is high for the conversation to break down at some point. If instead the goal is to reach deeper mutual understanding then the chances for good conversation are greatly increased.

We hold the right to freedom of speech as a core right for people everywhere. Given that people will express their opinions, and given that those opinions are becoming increasingly polarized these days, you can either choose to have good conversations with fewer people accompanied by more arguments, or learn to converse with the folks that require you to be “tolerant”. Which will you choose?

What are some examples of good “tolerant” conversation you’ve had?