Being a futurist isn’t easy for a number of reasons; a big reason being that it’s difficult to have discussions with others. These other people, whether it’s your uncle or wife or co-worker, often see futurists as “a little out there” because they don’t quite understand our perspective on things.
I won’t promise to solve your issues in regards to talking to others, but I can assist by breaking down problem areas that I have come across. I think it's best to approach things with diplomacy and discussion boundaries.
A Big Hurdle - Social Blockades
You are familiar with the concept of “social blockades” if you are an Ultramodern Futurist. If not, a social blockade is a group of social and cultural issues (most common are race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation) that tend to cause problems. We value the productivity and actions of people; and, don’t feel that race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation has an effect on that.
When talking to others, you have to take into consideration that they still utilize these social blockades and they don’t understand why you aren’t considering them. In turn, Ultramods often forget that other people are still hung up on social blockades and they don’t understand why others can’t move past unchangeable issues.
Future Minded vs Present Minded vs Past Minded
I have found that there are 3 mindsets that people predominantly fall into: future minded, present minded, and past minded. It is possible to go through phases of these mindsets. You might see teenagers be a little more present minded, whereas college students might start to make the transition to being future minded. You might know a person who has always been past minded, even as a kid. If you can identify what mindset the person is when you have discussions with them, it may help you out.
Future Minded - The future minded observe the present and focus on the future. The thought is often “this is where we are at now, how can we get to point X in Y time frame?” A good example of this is through Tesla Inc. They had an idea in 2003 and by 2004 Elon Musk joined in as a co-founder by buying in at $6.5 million. The Tesla Roadster was put into production by 2008. They have since expanded their line of vehicles.
Present Minded - The present minded are really only concerned about what is current. They have no concern about the past or the future, unless it’s affecting them within the present. They welcome some change, but they don’t always understand the why of pre-planned steps to a larger, future construct. An example of this would be the Covid 19 vaccination schedule which included different phases for different groups of people based on job and age. A present minded person would ask “why aren’t they just letting everyone get them at the same time?”
Past Minded - The past minded people are set in their ways. They don’t understand why you would change something if it’s not broken. They may come around to new things, but it takes a lot of effort and time. They either truly or purposefully don’t understand the future minded OR they seem to have a disconnect from the future minded, as if it’s something they will never be. Here’s the secret catch to these people: they seem to wish for the “good ol’ days”, but in those “good ol’ days” there were still future minded people making breakthroughs that eventually got us to where we are now.
The Frying Pan
In today’s world it is hard to discuss anything without someone putting a political, social, or cultural spin on it. Everything is a hot topic. It’s highly probable that you won’t appease everyone; if you can, tell us how.
A tactic to help get yourself out of the proverbial frying pan is to “acknowledge and ask”. Let’s say you’re talking with Ada, Ben, and Chad about this new idea you had for a project - we will call it Project X. Ben seems dismissive and starts pointing out various holes in your plan. Chad seems about ready to join in. Acknowledge that Project X is still in the works and ask if they have a solution to help fix the holes. What if Ada can help fix those holes? What if you’re mentioning this to them because Chad has a skill you need to make Project X work?
Try to avoid heated arguments. Debating an issue in a cordial manner, where person A presents a disagreement followed by information to back up their thoughts and then person B considers, rebuts, and provides their own information, is totally acceptable. A debate may express various opinions and may leave each side considering the other’s presented information. A heated argument is very closed off and is often emotionally driven. In a heated argument the parties refuse to hear each other out and consider the information provided; it’s like arguing with a brick wall for all parties. The ultimate goal is to simply have a discussion. If someone wants to debate, you can always suggest setting up discussion boundaries for that debate. If someone wants to argue, you may want to say something to the effect of “This seems to agitate you far too much right now. Perhaps I am not communicating this idea very well.” Shut down the argument and either change the subject or leave.
Have some personal discussion boundaries. You may want to consider the following:
If the person you are attempting to have a discussion with shows no sign of respect or cordiality towards you and/or your idea, then simply do not have a discussion with them.
If you set parameters for your discussion such as "let's leave out religion", then you make the parameters clear for everyone. If they don't want to stay within the parameters, they can leave the discussion.
If things turn into a heated argument, you can always leave. You may have to use an excuse, such as "I need to use the restroom", or you can simply state that you don't want to continue speaking with the person and just leave, or you can just leave. It may go against social norms and it may feel strange to abruptly leave, but the second you deem yourself "away" from the person, you will feel better.
Hear out those who disagree with you and ask questions. Perhaps understanding their perspective will help you formulate an even better idea or project. It may also help them to understand your perspective on the future.
What are your tips in regards to talking to people about the future? Leave comments below.