Anti-Brexit protester Steve Bray (L) and a pro-Brexit protester argue as they demonstrate in front of the Houses of Parliament in Westminster

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Try to find common ground in arguments about Brexit, experts say

"We do not see a family now," says a woman in her fifties who lives in Norfolk. "We have not seen her so often and now I do not feel like ever seeing her again."

The woman, a follower of Remain, who is French but married to a Briton, wants to remain anonymous. She says that she "felt unable to talk to some friends and family members" after hearing her views about Brexit.

She has not talked to some friends – even though they have known her for decades. "I know that when I talk to them, I would be involved in such a fight, which makes me very, very sad."

And from the family, she says, "I think my husband is trying to keep me away from my in-laws as much as possible so I do not have a fight with them." He hates confrontation.

"I do not thrive on it, but if I have to score a point, I'll score a point."

On the other side of the debate, a 59-year-old Leave voter from North London says most of his discussions with "survivors" are "reasonable," even though there are "complete idiots" who often "can" social media , to cope with the fact that people voted to go ".

"I have the ammunition I need and they know that I know what I'm talking about," he says.

But he says his girlfriend – who came from the Czech Republic and voted to stay – was "a bit annoyed" by his voice.

"She said I voted for her to go back," he says. "But we're still friend and girlfriend, we're not discussing it."

For more than three years, Brexit has led to disagreements between families and friends.

Boris Johnson's family also avoids the topic of Brexit, said his sister Rachel quit last week as brother of siblings, Jo, as Minister and Member of Tory.

But how do you deal with arguments about Brexit – and when should you give up? Experts explain the art of arguing.

Listen and do not interrupt

The most common mistakes that people make during the altercation are the most obvious ones – not listening and interrupting each other, says the author of How to Argue, Oxford University Law Professor Jonathan Herring.

"When you interrupt someone, you basically say that you do not want to hear what they say, and that creates a bad atmosphere."

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That which the other person says, rewriting and repeating can be useful

He adds: "You need to understand where the other person comes from, good listeners will try to build consensus, there will be questions that you agree with.

"At Brexit, you may both be concerned about immigration or the economy, and if you both agree, it can be helpful to have a common ground."

It's important to find out what's important to the other person, and then adjust your points accordingly, he adds.

"If someone is not interested in the economy, it is not helpful to create many economic statistics."

No cartoons

When arguing about Brexit, people often make mistakes by "taking caricatures of the person they talk to," adds Herring.

"If someone says he supports Brexit, someone might think he's racist or old-fashioned [Remainers] are very, very liberal or are not interested in immigration. "

Instead, good arguments will listen to their opponents' points appropriately, he says.

Claire Fox, who founded the Academy of Ideas to stimulate debate and is also a Brexit Party MEP, believes that labeling people is "not helpful".

"I understand that it can be just as irritating when people copy Remainer as 'Remoaner' or as the 'elite of the big cities'," she adds.

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MEP Claire Fox says Britain is in the same arguments over Brexit as a "time warp"

It's important to always show respect and take your opponent seriously, she says.

"If you feel condescended and not taken seriously, people can feel defensive.

"Look at each other by face value instead of sending people to different camps."


Gabrielle Rifkind, a conflict resolution specialist in the Middle East, says you need to be "curious and dedicated" to find out why the other person thinks differently.

Sound is also important, she says, so be sure to be controversial and critical.

And success is measured not only by winning someone over, says Ms. Rifkind, who voted for Remain, but now sees the Brexit problem "through the lens of healing the divisions that have so profoundly broken our country ".

"We rarely listen properly because we want to try to make those with different views think the same as we do, pull them over the barricade and convince them of the correctness of the reasoning.

"It's very difficult to tolerate a different perspective," she says. "What people believe is often very deep inside them, it may be related to their identity, but we fall into a trap and think that if we do not make them think as we do, we will not make progress.

"Ultimately, in a good conversation, we try to find the human connection, but that does not mean we have to think straight away."

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Mediator Louisa Weinstein agrees that it is "unhelpful" for someone to change their mind without listening completely.

"What happens is that you want to push your mind even more," she says.

Approval of the losers

In the meantime, it's important to know that sometimes you lose, says Ms. Fox.

She adds that part of modern democratic life in Britain is the consent of the losers.

"If you lose a fight, it does not mean that you change your mind, but you have to accept the decision," she says.

"You would then say: & # 39; I accept this decision, I will regroup and in the future will gain more people for my reasoning. & # 39;

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When stop?

Even in the polarized Brexit debate, Herring believes that it will help people to find out where they agree.

But it's important to know when to stop – and to realize that your relationships are more valuable.

"If you know that the person you're talking to is annoyed very quickly, it may be best to avoid the topic," he says.

During the altercations, the mediator suggests to Mrs. Weinstein to summarize and repeat what the other person says before asking her if she said that.

"For example: & # 39; What I've heard is that you hate me and never want to talk to me again. & # 39; They'll say," No, you're really annoying right now. "

It is also useful to put the time – "small bites" – aside for discussion.

"Set boundaries, for example," Let's talk about it for 15 minutes, then we can go to the cinema. "

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Ms. Fox says it is "very tempting to retire to echo chambers at a time like this".

"It's a really uncomfortable, feverish atmosphere, and so many exchanges, especially social media, take on the form of demonization, and it feels too abusive to get involved," she says.

"On the one hand, I understand why people are retreating, but it's important that people do not [stop] Influence fellow citizens and bring their ideas.

"I would never say that I have no argument," she adds.