Maryland Forward Party

PEP Talk Core Principles: Six Ways To Disarm Political Fights - Replace “Shoulds” with Personal Experiences

05 April, 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. This is Part 4 of 6.


Any place in a conversation where you find yourself telling someone else how to behave, e.g. “You should…” replace that with a description of your personal experience. Ideally this might describe an action that you have already done so that you can also talk about what happened when you did. Comments about things you plan to do in the future are often less impactful.


  • “What I have started doing is…”
  • “I prefer to…”
  • “I have had great success with…”
  • “When I did ________ I had this experience, but I got a completely different reaction when I _______.”


Every person is a collection of unique experiences (even twins). The experiences of another person may not match your own, and the circumstances of their life may prevent the other person from having the same experience should they try to do what works in your life. The word “should” signifies a desire to dictate (and sometimes control) the actions of other people, and can give the appearance of attempting to take away free will, even when that is not the intent of the presenter.


To help preserve free will, it’s faster and simpler to avoid the use of the word “should”. Avoiding the word “should” signals to the other person that they have the choice to accept your insights or not. At the same time, when you describe your own personal experience, it is hard to dispute that your experience happened to you. The other person can gain the same insight, and see another way that they might handle a similar situation, without imposing pressure that they must adopt the same approach.

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