Maryland Forward Party

PEP Talk Core Principles: Six Ways To Disarm Political Fights - “Model” New Behaviors & Make Teaching Optional

22 March, 2024

Developed by Pete Oliver-Krueger, head of our Priorities and Policies Committee, the Prioritizing Epic Problems (PEP) Talk is a fresh approach to politics, encouraging constructive dialogue, bridging divides in political discourse and reaching consensus on identifying pressing issues.

It is built on six core principles from the fields of Positive Psychology and Meditation. We'll be showcasing one of these principles each week as we head into Easter, Passover, and Holy Week. Together they can help turn arguments into collaborations. Hopefully some of them will help you to have better conversations at your family gatherings. 

If you missed the first principle, click here to read about defining your terms.

The second principle in disarming political fights is to “Model” New Behaviors & Make Teaching Optional



Consciously using a skill or technique, with special care to go “by the book”, so that it can be experienced as intended by all participants and observers.



Showing or explaining a new skill or technique to someone else, usually through words, illustrations (e.g. powerpoint), or demonstrations.


For some skills or techniques, there can be a vast difference between the “knowledge” of how to do something and the “understanding” of how to do it. You can intellectually “know” the rules, steps, and procedures, but until you actually go through the motions and experience of that activity, it may be impossible to really “understand” it.

This is well-demonstrated in the video “The Backwards Bicycle” by “Smarter Every Day”:
The Backwards Brain Bicycle - Smarter Every Day 133

Secondly, you may have attendees of varying experience levels. If you teach to the lowest denominator, you might lose the attention of those more experienced. When your optimal participants are those who are more-experienced, those who are motivated to review the materials beforehand on their own, and those who show initiative to participate more fully, catering to the slower participants may drive these people away.


Learning type theory says that there are 4 ways that people absorb new information: Auditory (by hearing), Visual (by seeing), Kinesthetic (by doing), and Reading/Writing (and the physical act of doing so). You can actually tackle all four of these styles at the same time. Provide a written copy of the instruction (like these notes) ahead of time; record short videos (e.g. 5-10 minutes max) to present the same information in both visual and audio formats and encourage participants to watch the videos beforehand; and then focus your simultaneous time together doing the actual steps of the exercise (kinesthetic and visual) as you say the steps out loud (auditory and visual) and encourage members to participate using tools like sticky notes (writing) and collaborative discussion (auditory, visual, and kinesthetic). This is why we promote that the vast majority of your time together be spent deliberately going step-by-step through the actual activity with coaching, with minimal lecturing.

Keep tuning in every week to see the next PEP Talk core principle in disarming political fights. As a preview, next week's topic will be Avoid “Monologues” & “Chaining”.

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