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Finding Common Ground

Page history last edited by Georgie Ziff 7 years ago


Finding Common Ground hypothetical scenario exercise


Each person can speak up for himself only after he has first restated the ideas and feelings of the previous speaker accurately . . . . Once you have been able to see the other's point of view, your own comments will have to be drastically revised. You will also find the emotion going out of the discussion, the differences being reduced, and those differences which remain being of a rational and understandable sort. 

 Carl Rogers "On Becoming a Person", Boston: Houghton, 1961.(332-33)


Common Ground Activity


You are going to think about arguments in a slightly different way—from your opponents’(or audience’s) point of view. 

  1. Read the above scenario.

  2. In small groups, spend a few minutes writing as accurately as possible about your position on the situation and the arguments you would use to convince your audience.

  3. One of your group members will your record your thoughts.

  4. Next, consider the opposite point of view: spend a few minutes writing as accurately as possible about your audience’s position and the arguments the audience might use.

  5. Now find areas of overlap between your positions and your audience’s position. Focus  on questions such as “How are you and your audience similar?” and “What basic issues can you and your audience agree on?” Record your observations using the Venn Diagram tool.

  6. Write how they you would begin a conversation with your audience, keeping in mind the common ground you have just determined from your Venn Diagrams.

  7. Groups can also role play the conversation with partners and then use the Persuasion Map to organize their thoughts.

  8. After you have had a chance to gather and share your ideas, share your thoughts with the class. 


  • Do similar lists (one that summarizes arguments, and one that summarizes  audiences’ feelings) for your own persuasive writing, based on what you know of the audience you are addressing.

  • You can continue to explore logical arguments using Purdue OWL's resource Logic in Argumentative Writing. This resource covers logical vocabulary, reaching logical conclusions, fallacies, and improprieties—all elements important to consider when writing persuasive and argumentative texts.



Reflect on the process you use to construct a formal argumentative essay. Include the analysis of the audience’s point of view and the process by which you choose your own arguments to counter them when you submit your work.


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