These are 10 reminders that can serve as an aid for having fruitful conversations. They can be used by couples when talking with one another, by Muslims in giving Da’waah to non-Muslims, or any other situation:
1) Don’t challenge. It is important not to challenge the other party as this can agitate their Kibar (pride) and make them more prone to disagreeing.
2) Don’t say “You are wrong.” When you try to show their error bluntly, they are more likely to hold on to their position even if they come to realize that they are wrong.
3) Admit you are wrong. If you realize that you are wrong about a certain point, don’t hesitate to acknowledge it. This will make them know that you are seeking the truth, and not trying to impose your own opinion.
4) Honest praise. Praise the good qualities of the other person. This is definitely a heart-softener. Do make sure that your praise is truthful and in its place.
5) Ask confirmatory questions. Ask questions for which you expect an affirmative reply from the other party. These will make them more close to the correct position you are trying to show them.
6) Leave the food for the bird on the ground; don’t expect it to come to you. When you want to get your correct position over to the other party, it is a good idea to propose it in the form of a suggestion and let the other party arrive at their decision by themselves; don’t force them to, for they won’t comply.
7) Don’t interrupt, listen attentively. This is very important. Nobody likes to be interrupted when they are speaking. Everybody likes to be listened to. Let them say all that they want to say and listen attentively, and when they are finished, start speaking. What is worse is to disagree with them while they are expressing their opinion.
8) Adapt their position. Put yourself in the other person’s position to see what is wrong with it. If you see nothing wrong, then there is probably nothing to argue about.
9) Common grounds. Try to highlight your common grounds so that you can resolve the issues in which you are disagreeing over. Allaah (subhaanahu wa ta’aalaa) commands us to give Da’wah to the Christians by showing them our common grounds and then rectifying where they went wrong (Surah Aali ‘Imraan, verse 64).
10) Move their feelings. Emotions play a major role in people’s decisions. Moving somebody’s feelings in a positive way (not hurting their feelings!) is likely to bring about good results.
The upshot of these points is to ask Allaah to help you and the other party to see the truth as truth and accept it, and see falsehood as falsehood and reject it, and to know that it is only by the will of Allaah that these points can bring about benefit.
Originally adapted from a lecture by Shaykh ‘Adnaan ‘Abdul-Qaadir.