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Posted by on Jul 31, 2016 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

The Noisy Next 100 Days

LISTENINGDuring this political sprint to the finish line, how can we keep an amicable conversation going with people who have the wrong opinions?

Is name calling an option?

Kidding aside, what’s the political etiquette for those of us on opposite sides of the aisle? How do we maintain respect in the midst of these wild fires — red hot headlines, combustible tweets and counter tweets, and Facebook wars?

Actually, we can learn about the art of listening from Urban Confessional. Founded in 2012 by Benjamin Mathes, the project is based on this fundamental truth: People need to be heard. Volunteers in more than a dozen cities listen to people’s worries and even carry a sign that reads: Free Listening.

Urban Confessional offers this coaching advice to help us listen when we disagree with someone: Ask to hear the story behind the opinion. The idea is to find out what set of circumstances is behind it.

Case in point:

A woman at the recent Republican National Convention argued that abortion was wrong, and that people who have them should be arrested for murder.

Instead of arguing with her, the volunteer encouraged the woman to tell her story, and why she believed this to be true. She explained that she can’t have children and so she feels it’s unfair, and yes infuriating, when women can, but choose not to.

The reporter in me loves this philosophy – get the story. See the opinion as merely the invitation to learn more about someone’s point of view.

During the noisy next 100 days, we can be civil if we remember to do one thing: get the story.

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