Modern politics are divisive. Driven by inflammatory media, a turbulent social and economic environment, and increasingly extreme rhetoric, opinions on many topics are becoming polarized across the globe. Americans, and their opinions, are not spared from this trend.

It can be tempting to reduce people to their views on contentious topics. That temptation can be devastating to the relationships we hold most dear.

You likely have a friend or loved one who thinks differently to you. Perhaps that difference has led to conflict in the past. Or perhaps, rather than conflict, the mere knowledge of that difference has made entire topics “off-limits” to you in conversation, causing you to divert when you feel one of these topics approaching. Perhaps, instead of evasion, it would be better to address the difference head-on. This toolkit is designed to help you approach the difference with confidence. 

We aim to provide the conditions and guidance for a conversation on a hard topic that ends with both participants feeling heard. In particular, we hope to encourage the exchange of personal stories — in part because we believe that our opinions are often derived from stories, communal and personal, but also because we believe that time spent hearing the stories your friends and loved ones have to share is never wasted. To that end, we’ll provide an exercise lasting a couple of hours, starting with independent reflection on your own experiences and views, then sharing those experiences and exploring them with your partner in dialogue. 

If this exercise sounds like something that might strengthen a relationship that you hold dear, and help you open the door to conversations on hard topics, we invite you to fill out the form on the Toolkit tab and receive a copy. We are confident much good can come of it.