From name calling to violence, this election is bringing out our worst. It is absolutely important to confront prejudice and bigotry whether it happens in person or online.
Still, there are those from the other side of whatever views we hold, who deserve to be heard. Whether you are celebrating the election or devastated with the results, Essential Partners of Boston offers a way through.
- Engage with an attitude of curiosity, rather than the need to convince or defend your beliefs.
- Resolve to speak respectfully without interrupting and ask others to do the same.
- Avoid rhetoric and TV sound bites.
- Use questions rather than pronouncements.
Powerful questions to transform conversation:
“Can you tell me an experience that will help me understand your views?”
“What concerns or values are behind your political beliefs?”
“What are your hopes and concerns?”
“How have you have been stereotyped by people you disagree with?”
“What do you wish for us as a nation?”
After asking several questions of each other, it may be time to ask, “Are you willing to talk about gray areas or contradictions within your viewpoint?” Or, “Are there some stereotypes that might be partially true?”
You don’t have to accept insults. A simple response like, “ouch!” can get your point across until you can respond clearly. “I can hear you better if you don’t talk about my friends that way,” or “I am interested in what you have to say, but not when you call me names.” This makes it clear you accept the person, but not the insult.
The way forward depends on us.
From Reaching Out Across the Red-Blue Divide, One Person at a Time by Essential Partners (formerly the Public Conversations Project.) www.whatisessential.org