Find a common and concrete language
Find a door-opener. There are many ways to start a conversation on sufficiency: the good life, stress relief, DIY, frugality You could ask what is the other person’s idea of sufficiency, as well. You can then go on to introduce sufficiency as an analytical term further on in the conversation in order to delimit it.
Discuss concrete issues. General discussions are more difficult and less fruitful (“Do we need sufficiency?”) than concrete measures (“pros and cons of a lower speed limit in cities” or “prohibition of advertisements directed at children”). This is why it is important to have a few different examples on hand to talk about something that is of relevance to the other.
Start with your own vision and argue positively
Argue positively. Use images and arguments that illustrate why you advocate sufficiency and what is your own vision of a sustainable society. This is a crucial foundation for the discussion of details and a roadmap to sufficiency to build on. Only if you are enthusiastic about the issue will you be able to spur the other’s interest. You can get inspiration from other countries or municipalities where successful measures have been implemented.
Be mindful of your tone. Simply ignore negative and polarising expressions (“back to the Stone Age”, “enemy of technology”), as they are meant to foster a negative framing of the issue. Do respond to the factual core of the argument and return to using positive terms to engender a positive context: the good life, enjoyment, deceleration.
Widen the perspective and return the argument
Turn the perspective upside down: how does a person from Cameroon view our lifestyle? What will our children say about our legacy of garbage and concrete? Discuss the links between too little (global South) and too much (global North). You can reach people using catchy terms like “throwaway society”, “agricultural overproduction” or ‘overflowing pantries’.
Turn the argument about renunciation around: what are we doing without now? Show what others in our society have to do without: free movement as pedestrians, a view of the architecture in our cities unobstructed by advertisements, durable products that we can repair and update.
Not a piece of cake, but courageous
Quality of life and habits. Present differentiated arguments as to why and where less can be more. Do not omit that new habits take time to get used to, as is the case with healthier nutrition or sustainable mobility.
Renunciation is not taboo. Sometimes it is what it is, for instance with air travel. Make it clear that a good life is built on an ethical foundation. Responsibility is not always fun, but vital for inner peace.
Find common avenues for action
Find common ground. Remember that you do not need universal consensus to act together. Hold on to the commonalities and think about ways to build on them later.
Learn together. Remember that you may learn something from the conversation, as well. Reflect on what new insights you have gained and how you felt during the conversation. Feelings can often create a stronger connection than words.