Straw Man or Steel Man

When we consider a person that, at this moment, we do not agree with, what is the story that we tell about them?

Does it resemble a “straw man?”  That is, do we pick only the flimsiest parts of their perspective and rail against it?

Or do we set up a “steel man?”  That is, do we consider their position with cognitive empathy and fill out their narrative as strongly as possible?

One strategy will help us productively and compassionately engage the world as it is.  The other will inflate our ego’s self-righteousness.

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