Consider the Person's Emotions People who take part in hate speech are probably experiencing fear, parochial empathy, anger, disgust, or a combination of these emotions. We must listen to them in a nonjudgmental way, validate these emotions, and attempt to move them forward from these emotions in a more constructive, less damaging way. We must realize that in order to help someone back away from hate or dangerous speech, we need to give them a way to feel a sense of belonging to an alternative narrative.
Remember that Changing Beliefs is Hard As humans, we can be very set in our ways and people may react strongly when asked to reconsider personal values and opinions that they hold central to their identity and being. This type of challenging information can be understood as a psychological threat. It is important to try to understand their self-image and what triggers are connected to that image. When presenting your perspective and information, it is most productive to frame it using the values, beliefs, and emotions that the person you’re engaging with already holds. You can use storytelling as a device to open people to new perspectives that they wouldn’t usually be open to in an argument.
Respect that People Have 'Sticky Identities' As humans, we have “sticky dinettes,” meaning that we have parts of our identity that we feel we cannot change. Those who participate in hate speech may feel that their core identity is under attack by some outside group. One way to ameliorate this reality is by understanding and respecting people’s grievances (for example, economic or political grievances) and providing them with alternative ways to address those grievances (for example, through collective civic engagement). In addition, we must avoid shaming people, as this will likely increase their defenses and isolate them from our perspective.
Combat Misinformation Hate speech is, more often than not, predicated upon misinformation and misinterpretation. The best way to combat the spread of misinformation is to catch it and correct it early; however, this is not always the most realistic solution. When directly confronting the misinformation, it is beneficial to avoid negative framing (for example, by saying that something did “not” happen) and Repetto of falsehoods. Doing these will continue to give legitimacy to the misinformation, even though you are trying to correct it. When correcting, the most effective way to undermine the credibility of the source of misinformation, use positive framing, make sure the correction comes from a trusted source, and offer reinterpretations of the existing evidence used to back up the misinformation. If you offer additional evidence, check your facts! Make sure the source is credible and will benefit your contribution.
Acknowledge the Impact of Social Norms We are continuously affected by the social norms that exist all around us. The awareness of these norms may cause us to be influenced by social pressure and norms based on dinettes. Social norm perceptions make it difficult for someone to speak out against hate speech for they believe that most people in their personal group approve of such speech. Or someone may be unable to identify the danger of participating in hate speech as it is perceived as the norm. Help make it safe for people to speak up, either by correcting misperceptions (for example, someone might think his or her peers approve of dangerous speech, when in reality they don’t) or providing alternative spaces for people to speak out with social support.
In the U.S. today, an “us versus them” narrative colors some interpersonal relationships, especially with Muslims in the aftermath of the events of 9/11. This rhetoric contributes to a vicious cycle of dehumanization as well as a push for collective blame and guilt attribution—blaming all members of a group for the actions of a few, which often leads to people being expected to apologize for the actions of others of their group. In order to combat this narrative and the dangerous speech that has grown out of it, our solutions must directly counteract this dehumanization processes.
Through respect for people’s various dinettes and the channeling of emotions and passion toward positive outlets, may we find a common ground upon which a conversation may take place.