10 Tips for Getting People to Talk Across Political Differences
Our experience shows that people with widely different viewpoints on big issues can have discussions, find agreement, and collaborate.
Never in recent memory has our country experienced such deep divides in our politics and discourse. People of good will and spirit are unable to understand each other or bridge their differences across not just political lines, but also racial, cultural, and religious ones. As a result, decision-making and progress feel thwarted and stalled.
- teachers’ unions, charter school advocates, school administrators, and technology companies create a shared vision of K-12 educational excellence?
- grocery manufacturers, convenience stores, consumer advocates, national food retailers, insurance groups, and public health organizations find ways to collectively reduce obesity?
- health care experts—some who helped design the Affordable Care Act and some who worked to dismantle it—come together to offer bipartisan recommendations to help resolve the health care debate roiling the nation?
- Allow everyone to feel welcome to contribute.
- Be eager and open to listening to a variety of options or ideas.
- Check your own tendency to dominate or criticize.
- Be curious about where the conversation is going.
- Be fully present and reduce outside distractions.
- Allow older Americans and younger people with functional and/or cognitive impairments to live as independently as possible, and with maximum autonomy and choice in the services they receive and the setting in which they receive them.
- Support those family caregivers who are the bedrock of supports and services for those who require personal assistance. This may include encouraging employment practices that support family caregiving.
- Address varying risks, needs, and choices with a mix of private and public solutions.
- Assure that any public program is fiscally sustainable.
- Sometimes, it will take several attempts to refine a set of principles that everyone can agree on. It is worth the time and is an essential building block for future substantive agreement.