So are ready to dive into one of these conversations yourself?
If it’s time for a socio-political detox in your own life, maybe it’s time to sit down with your political opposite. If you’re interested in the LGBT/religious conservative divide, in particular, I’d love to help you be successful! No matter what next legal battle emerges, no matter what your mother-in-law (or brother or neighbor thinks about it), trust me: it doesn’t have to get ugly. It might even become a beautiful excuse to discover for yourself that thoughtful, good-hearted people can and do disagree vociferously about virtually everything in the world!
In a culture increasingly hesitant about many divides, organizations like Living Room Conversations, the Village Square, Public Conversations Project and the National Coalition of Dialogue & Deliberation continue to explore creative ways to help diminish people’s worries and resistance just enough to get them in the same room, where other magical things just might happen – like actually hearing each other out?!
A good place to start is participating in a Living Room Conversation yourself – where you join an intimate, evening conversation to deepen connection and understanding. We even recorded our last one so you could get a ‘peak’ of what it looks like. If you’d like help and guidance to set up your own conversation, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to help get you started!
Two beginning suggestions:
- Emphasize relationship & curiosity: Once you’ve picked out someone on the other side of an important issue for you, my advice is to approach them not with talking points, but with real questions. But first, emphasize your interest in having a real relationship: “Hey, I want you to know that I value your friendship – and don’t want this issue to come between us…I wonder if I could ask you some questions to better understand where you’re coming from…”
- Start with a pre-conversation to make some agreements together: If the person says yes, you’re going to be tempted to dive right into the conversation. Before you do, it can help to have a little conversation about the conversation: “Hey – to help us have a productive conversation, tell me what you need to feel comfortable talking with me about this?” Write down the answers that come, then add your own. Once you’ve done that, propose these as guidelines that you’ll follow together. It worked great to improve my relationship with my mother-in-law – and it it can work for you!
If you’d like to read other great tips, check out these videos from Public Conversations Project, the Living Room Conversations ground rules and especially the world’s largest repository of dialogue/deliberation related resources at the National Coalition of Dialogue and Deliberation.
If you’d like to dip your big toe into this all and experience a short conversation for yourself – join me in a weekly Living Room Conversation adaptation online, Saturday mornings at 9:00 (for details on signing up, see here).
Good luck! I’ll be rooting for you. (: