These six tactics not only helped me navigate a 90-minute debate with three Mormons when I didn’t know anything about Mormonism, they can also help you have better conversations with pro-choice people.
I’ve never really spoken with missionaries from the Church of Latter-Day Saints before. I haven’t avoided it, it’s just that for some reason they never went to our neighborhood. That’s why I was surprised the other day to hear the doorbell ring and to open my door to three LDS missionaries asking to pray for me.
You’re probably thinking that I got a big grin (at least on the inside) and immediately welcomed them in. I’m embarrassed to say that I politely declined on impulse. That might have partially been because the impression they gave was that they only wanted to pray for me, and since I believe they would be doing the equivalent of praying to a brick wall, it didn’t seem worth the trouble. But there was also a lazy part of me that just wanted to rest and for them to move on to the next house. I’ve been working 12 to 16-hour days lately and I finally had a Sunday afternoon off, and for a few moments I cared more about that than the three souls standing in front of me. I’m happy to report that once we sat down and got into real discussion, I very much enjoyed myself. I’m glad that they were pushy enough to get past the internal barriers I put up when I saw them.
I was a little nervous when they finished praying, because I have never really studied Mormonism. I know a little bit, but it’s one of those things I thought I would always get to later, “when the time was right.” Now here I was, feeling like I was going into a three versus one battle. Even worse, it was like they were a fully-armored team and I felt like I didn’t have any weapons!
Pro-life and pro-choice people often struggle to have productive conversations with each other. I think there are literally dozens of reasons for that, but one of them is that both sides understandably have an agenda they want to focus on instead of learning what the other person believes. Since I didn’t know very much about Mormonism, this was an opportunity for me to put my agenda to the side and go into “information gathering” mode.
Luckily, the discussion went a lot better than I feared it would, thanks to the six tactics in this list.