Finding the Right Approach for Non-Violent Speech

UMA facilitated the work on the materials that are being developed to enable its recipients to “transform unproductive shouts or passive-aggressive avoidance into truly productive conversations that should end with participants having a clearer understanding of the points of view of others, and develop skills and motivation to act against injustice”.

On 27 and 28 June 2019, the University of Málaga (UMA) hosted a full programme of activities within a meeting of the AAA team. The Spanish representation is headed by Professor Mª Teresa Vera Balanza, from the Faculty of Communication Sciences, and a large team of researchers from the University of Málaga in the areas of Journalism, Communication and Social Psychology.

Different approaches in dealing with hate speech

The project team discussed in depth how to react on hate speech and aggressive language behaviour: This essentially involved two different approaches: One can counter hate speech with equally aggressive argumentation, in which confrontation with facts plays the greatest role. The challenge with this approach is that the hate speaker withdraws to his point of view and a possible discourse does not come about because the hate speaker loses face in the counter-argumentation.

Another approach is that of “non-violent argumentation”. The hate speaker is initially perceived as equal in his argumentation, even if the facts speak against him. Questions of understanding are first used to create a level of conversation with the aim of picking up arguments and understanding them against the background of the hate speaker. The aim is to break down the aggressive behaviour and to open up a way of mutual communication in the first place.

AAA learning material to be prepared

Finally, AAA team agreed to us the “non-violent argumentation” approach. In order to become familiar with the approach themselves, Guido Stalmann and Ruben van der Weijden of the Stichting Hogeschool Utrecht offered a spontaneous workshop, which sensitised the project colleagues to this special form of communication. Learning by doing proved to be a challenging task in this respect….

The next step is to focus the AAA learning materials on this learning approach in order to integrate it into the learning units. This is going to be the main task until the next project meeting in autumn at our Greek colleagues GUNET in Athens.

(Picture: AAA team with the team of researchers from Málaga University with the hostess Professor Mª Teresa Vera Balanza (fifth from right). )

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