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The past few days have felt like a blur of headlines about protests, counterprotests and police. Clearly, Americans from a wide variety of perspectives have passionate views about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But too often, that turns into people yelling slogans past each other – or worse – rather than engaging in a meaningful dialogue on a complex topic.

Really listening to someone you disagree with is hard in the best of times. Actually changing their mind? Much harder.

It begins with respect, writes University of Washington philosopher Colin Marshall. Each of us deeply wants to believe that we are a decent, reasonable human being, he explains. It makes us much more receptive to others’ ideas when that core belief doesn’t feel under attack. It’s an idea backed up by modern psychology research – but also one that German philosopher Immanuel Kant was writing about nearly 300 years ago.

We have a moral duty to help “the other person ‘preserve his respect for his own understanding,’” Marshall writes, quoting Kant. “In other words, even when we encounter obviously false points of view, morality calls on us to help the person we’re talking to maintain their self-respect – to find something reasonable in their views.”

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Molly Jackson

Religion and Ethics Editor

Looking to persuade someone? Start with respect. dusanpetkovic/iStock via Getty Images Plus

As humans, we all want self-respect – and keeping that in mind might be the missing ingredient when you try to change someone’s mind

Colin Marshall, University of Washington

People deeply want to believe they are good, reasonable and worthy. A little humility and curiosity can go a long way toward helping someone feel respected during an argument.

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    David Sterling Brown, Trinity College

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    University president Minouche Shafik called in the police on April 30 to quell student protests at what New York City school?

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    4. D. Juilliard

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