- You ask a Socratic question
- As they are talking you read their body language for signs of discomfort (e.g. are they agitated, threatened, or fearful? Or curious, engaged, analytical?)
- Listen and reflect their thoughts and feelings back to them in your own words (paraphrasing); so they know you are truly listening and understand their perspective, which validates their feelings.
- After the questions and their responses make sure you leave on a positive emotional high note by raising their self-esteem (their confidence and emotional well-being) with anything from a sincere compliment (e.g. about their intelligence, open mindedness, their character, etc); and/or show gratitude for their willingness to discuss the topic with you.
- Release any tension that may have developed through anything from a friendly hug (if appropriate) to the use of humor, etc.
The best way to introduce content is to stay on the frame of you two as joint investigators on the same team. To accomplish this I'd first recommend sitting down with them to watch the the following internet video created by Mormon apologists; this should relieve all fears for the video was produced by Mormons. What I like about the video is that it portrays LDS members dealing with a doubting member in a respectful manner. In the video the Mormon parent even willingly investigates both sides with his son. I think this video can create compassion and open mindedness in LDS members while watching it; for it gives them what Dale Carnigie would call "a fine reputation to live up to." The video is called Alone (available on YouTube). The video description reads, "Feeling alone, Justin shares with his father and wife his concerns about his church and comes to a new understanding of his faith and those he loves."
After watching the video with them and asking what they thought of it and discussing the themes of the video. At this point I would invite them to also look at both sides with you so that they can understand where you are coming from.
You can mention how in a court of law jurors are presented with both sides. To be accepted a juror must show that they can be fair and impartial. You can ask them if they would be willing to be a juror with you and examine both sides. You can even mention to them that this what LDS missionaries do, that is they ask investigators to read a part of the Book of Mormon and then return to discuss what they read.
- An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins by Grant Palmer
- For Any Latter-Day Saint: One Investigator's Unanswered Questions by (note: on amazon.com I saw this book listed in the used book section for hundreds of dollars, which is insane. The book is only worth 10 to 20 dollars. Don’t pay more than that. Last I checked it was available for purchase at a reasonable price at utlm.org).
Well, be glad you got that out of the way. Be thankful you did not waste hours, days, months, or years trying to convince someone to understand you when they don't want to! I spent years trying to get a Mormon to think critically and one day I just asked them, “Do you want to understand my perspective? Would you even want to know the truth if that meant making your uncomfortable?” They simply said “no,” and explained in so many words that it was more important to them to feel good and feel secure with their current worldview than learn anything that would make them uncomfortable. Here I was bending over backwards trying to have conversations with someone who was not open minded and simply did not want to know the truth if it would make them uncomfortable. When they finally said what they really felt I felt relief. I then knew where they stood, I didn't understand it because for me the truth is worth some discomfort, but I accepted their position.