Do you find it challenging to have conversations on important topics with friends, family members, or other people who hold strong opinions that differ from yours? Here are some tips for how to have these conversations and some resources with more information.
Listen deeply to understand.
Seek to understand the person you are talking with. You can confirm your understanding by using an active listening technique:
- Restate what they said
- Ask if you got it correct and whether you missed anything
Be curious, humble, and open-minded.
Instead of approaching with a mindset of “I’m right and you’re wrong,” set aside the need to be correct during the conversation. Ask questions from a place of respectful curiosity, such as:
- What experiences led you to your belief?
- Which of your values are supported by your position?
- Why is your view important to you?
Celebrate shared values!
Look for moments and places of common agreement, no matter how small. These are great places to build and link to your own values. Finding points in common helps to counter the polarizing belief that we are so different from each other.
Stay respectful and civil.
When discussing topics that we care about deeply, we can be sensitive and take statements personally. You and your conversation partner are demonstrating great courage simply by talking. Being respectful and civil to each other, acknowledges this shared bravery which demonstrates your willingness to keep one another safe during the discussion.
Speak from your own truth and perspective by using “I feel ___ because ____” or “For me, _____” statements to share your own experiences and feelings.
Have fun connecting!
Enjoy these conversations! You have an opportunity to learn something new and interesting about someone else, and you have a chance to be really heard and understood by someone. It can be deeply fulfilling and enriching to connect with someone who has a different perspective than your own.