Civil Discourse—How to Be a Better Listener and Communicator

Posted August 1, 2022 by in Career

Understanding other people’s rationale during a conversation is not a skill that is found in everyone. However, it is a skill everyone should have. When you discuss with someone, you need to understand better why they think the way they do or agree with a particular fact or statement.

Promoting greater understanding is key to any productive discussion. And the best way to achieve this is by using and engaging in civil discourse. But even that takes much more than just trying to be civil in a dialogue.

Understanding someone or a topic is significant. But how do you do that? You need civil discourse. What is civil discourse? How will it help you promote a greater understanding of the topic and the rationale behind the other party’s argument?

Woman having an in-person conversation with someone across a table

What is Civil Discourse?

Civil discourse is a form of a dialogue between several parties respectfully and ends productively. It is a form of dialogue where you face to face with opinions that differ from yours and embrace them even if you disagree with them.

The terms and definitions in civil discourse may seem complex. Still, in simpler terms, civil discourse promotes better understanding, similar to Milan Kordestani’s description of true civil discourse. Milan saw civil discourse as an effective tool that helps encourage understanding and avoid impoliteness and disagreement.

To benefit from civil discourse in promoting greater understanding, there is a need to know the key factors and skills of civil discourse and understand them.

Key Factors of Civil Discourse in Promoting Understanding

Active listening

This is one of the critical factors in promoting greater understanding. Listening is essential, but when done actively, it is powerful. It will help you to keep your thoughts and opinions to yourself until the other party is done speaking. This is almost always difficult as you will be tempted to give a comment or correct an idea. But if you can master this, you are well on your way to a better understanding of the person or the subject.

The best way to understand someone is to listen to them, not just listen to question their thoughts, views, or opinions or judge them. But listening to gain better insights into the rationale behind these views or beliefs. 

Active listening lets you walk in the other party’s shoes, which will help you understand them better.


In civil discourse, you come across many opinions, most of which would not align with yours. At this point, what do you do? Do you get all emotional, or do you handle them well?

It is true that controlling your emotions or mind from judging people’s opinions or views is difficult. But your outward reaction can and should be controlled. If the other’s opinion saddens, anger, or doesn’t sit well with you, there is no need to respond to them with these emotions. If they make you sad, you can control your sadness, maintain calm, and provide more valid arguments.

In the long run, if the other party is inclined to civil discourse as well, then understanding each other is way closer than you think.


In civil discourse, finding common ground is better. It leads to greater understanding and more productive dialogue. However, it cannot be achieved if the concerned parties are not truly being honest with their feelings or thoughts. If that happens, understanding each other would be difficult. With honesty, parties would exchange ideas as it is without leaving out any details. That way, other parties can learn from and understand them much better.

First Principal Thoughts 

In civil discourse, the basis of their argument is essential, and you don’t have to forget that first principle thought will help you. Discover the base of the argument and, from there, form an opinion. This way, you are not just swayed by the nuances of the discussion. First principle thoughts will not only help with better understanding, but they will also help you to produce smart decisions and prevent the conversation from getting heated.

other side of a 2-ways conversation between 2 women

Civil discourse is truly helpful in helping you reach a productive end to a discussion. The concerned parties will exchange ideas and thoughts respectfully and strive to understand each other better. But to do this, they need these key factors. When correctly used, the results are always impressive, and parties understand themselves better.

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