It’s an impressive feat when you can summarize your opponent’s position in a few choice words. But can you expand that summary back to its full size? Would it still look like something your opponent would recognize as their own? Our minds tend towards compression. Unless we pay attention, nuance can disappear in a flash. We remember all of the qualifiers we apply to our own statements, but how much of our opponent’s own context escaped you?
You don’t have to memorize your opponent’s words, but you will want to remember which details they cared about. They might apply their position to a much narrower circumstance than you first imagined. They might generalize it more than you realized. Perhaps they ignore nuance or they simply lack awareness of what they don’t know. If you can give them the benefit of the doubt (and sometimes you can’t) then you can assume they carry far more qualifiers to their stated position than it appears, consciously or unconsciously.
How would the conversation change if your opponent could see and feel that you recognize not just the breadth of also the depth of their convictions, even if you disagree with them? How many qualifiers could you elicit from them, earnestly, until you both realize that you likely agree on more things than not? How well can you build up your opponent’s position before they want to reciprocate? Your opponent likely only wants to be heard, after all, and mirroring their talking points back shows that. You want them to hear everything you have to say, too, right?