And yet, with the years, I have come to wonder if the only paradigm available to us is that of the argument, with its possibility of a negotiated settlement that is, at best, a tactical compromise on all sides. How about another paradigm? How about the paradigm of the conversation?
The argument, and any negotiated agreement that it may lead to, is based on a resistance to the other. The conversation, on the other hand, suggests openness to the other. In a conversation, you need not agree, but you have agreed not to argue in such a way that the conversation breaks. You have agreed to step into the other person’s shoes, and the other person has agreed to step into yours. A degree of civility is presumed in the conversation. The agreement you reach at the end of a conversation is neither tactical nor begrudging. It enfolds all the parties equally: the conversation goes on.