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#301: A Holiday Survival Guide for Difficult Conversations | Bill Doherty


What to do if you find yourself marooned at your Thanksgiving meal, facing a voluble uncle who is spewing political ideas you find abominable? Our guest today is overstuffed (see what I did there?) with practical ideas. I first met Bill Doherty several years ago, when I was doing a story for Nightline about a group called Braver Angels. The group was formed in the aftermath of the 2016 election, with the idea of bringing reds and blues together to create some mutual understanding and trust. As I watched the man moderating these seemingly incredibly successful discussions (ie no shouting, no rote recitations of slogans), I was really impressed. I later learned that he was both a marriage counselor and a meditator. So I invited him to come on the show. In this conversation, we discuss: why trying to change people’s minds or get them to abandon their core values is unlikely to be a winning strategy; the value of sticking with so-called “I” statements; and how to reach what he calls “accurate disagreement.” Please note: this interview was recorded before most of the tumultuous events of 2020, but it remains immovably relevant. 

Where to find Bill Doherty online: 

Website: https://braverangels.org

Website: https://dohertyrelationshipinstitute.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/billdoherty

Full Show Notes: https://www.tenpercent.com/podcast-episode/bill-doherty-301

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
From ABC this is the ten percent happier Podcast Dan Harris? We care really deeply about supporting you in your meditation practice and feel that providing you with high quality teachers is one of the best ways to do that. Customers of the ten percent happier app say they stick around specifically for the range of teachers and the deep wisdom these teachers have to import for anybody new to the app we ve got a special discount for you and if you're are an existing subscriber. We thank you for your support. so to go. Claim your discount visit, ten percent dot com, slash reward! That's ten percent! One word all spelled out: dot com, slash reward, oh so timely question here. What are you doing? find yourself marooned your thanksgiving meal face,
a voluble uncle. Who is spewing political ideas that you find abominable our guest today is overstepped soon. I did there, Sir annoying dead Yoke over stuffed with practical ideas for this situation I first met Our guest to name is build dirty several years ago, when I was doing a story for Nightline about a group called the braver angels. Actually, at that time there were called the better angels, but they change their name to braver angels, The group was formed in the aftermath of the two thousand sixteen election with the idea of bringing reds and lose together to create some mutual understanding and trust. I watched the guy was moderating these seemingly incredibly successful discussions either no shouting, no road recitation of slogans. In fact many people seem to be becoming friends, as I was watching. All this out
really impressed. I later learned that the moderator was both a marriage. Counselor Annie meditate her, so I invited bill to come on the show, and in this conversation we discuss why trying to change people's minds or get them to abandon their core values is unlikely to be a winning conversational strategy, the value sticking with so called I statements and how to reach what he calls accurate disagreement. Quick note: this interview was recorded before most of the tumultuous events of tat twenty, but it remains, in my opinion, immovably relevant. So here we go with bill dirty nice to see you again good to see you, for common em. I get you on the show area along well, I'm pleased. I am really pleased that you were able to get to New York City for this. As you know, I m fascinated by your work and we're gonna dive into it can start with your meditation career.
and I'd love to hear how? I also, I think you also do she gone, which I dont know much of yeah yeah, so I'd love to learn about both those things. Well, I started the two young meditation practised twenty years ago and that two thousand two thousand a year to them So I am a practitioner, I'm not an expert, I'm not a teacher, never written about it, but I have a good friend who was into it. Didn't have a master who taught locally in the twin cities, and I just decide to try it in mostly because I was interested in reducing stress in my life and I I loved it and I knew started out twenty minutes a day. I started out with the video of the master doing the moves, and so I could just sort of watch him and follow him, and then I wean to my way off the video started with twenty minutes. now? I do have forty minutes every morning. I so I'm embarrassed
Man. I don't really know what it is. Well, I said: ancient Chinese, spiritual and healing practice five thousand years old and It combines a breathing and gentle movements and there's a theory behind at that. The into the theory, so much, but energy in the body as choose. She that's right as a source of healing, so the master I studied with as a healer and I'm not into that as much as I meant you're, just a deep relaxation Bree. thing and gentle movements and it just com, me and that centres may and I intend to have sometimes creative ideas during it? Are you telling me that the life of a marriage counselor stressful, while I'm an academic, that I do a lot of community engagement work and I we live fairly intense life, and that includes my clinical specialty as couples on the brink of divorce? So, unlike an intensive care, is theirs
so all that can add up to a fairly intense life and this so meditation practice suggest grounds manner so that every day so grateful to be alive. But how does it ripple out there of your life- well, a lot of the work I do both with couples and also my work with says- will get into my work with better angels. Where we deal with conservatives and liberals who are at odds with each other. Did you notice that it a lot of For me as about how do I manage myself in the face of conflicting people and conflicting agendas where the stakes are high, and so the meditation practice adds into my therapist training to do what we have called the jargon phrase: emotional self regulation and centred on us in the face of a difficult interpersonal situations, ya mean I've watched you at work, I went to that. National, I think, was the first ever angels national Conference and watch. You do your thing in
Your com do at least on the outside of the hour. In my work in my modem actually come inside to cause I'm due that's what we're here to deal folks. So let's do it and let me help you engage each other. So, let's talk about, There are just going just gimme some background on how the group got started. You remember the two thousand, the presidential election vaguely alot of people. Remember that one, but that tender after that election to long term. Colleagues of mine who had worked on marriage and family she's what one in New Yorker David blanket on A east of Manhattan, the other David lap Southwest Ohio South Lebanon oil universes apart in terms of how people their felt about the election they were on. The fund together Our new Yorkers doing our highest in the Ark up, reside Manhattan, gloom and do
a funeral and in Ohio, hoping change. and they decided on the spur of the moment, to get together at ten. They claim voters and ten tunnel jump waters for We can, in South West Ohio in December to see if any of the gaps could be bridged. And then they called me- and I said: oh that's pretty brave what we thinking of doing with them and they said, they didn't know what they thought. I could figure that part out their fate accrue to the people, and I remember sitting at my home desk, hoping I was not free that weak. can't looking like a whole darn have an engagement, but in fact there was inside. So let's go for it, so we had people this twenty folks from that part of the country from South West for Friday night, all day, Saturday and Sunday afternoon, thirteen hours- and it was a remarkable experience
We ask people why they came and they said they couldn't. They didn't want to keep living with the acrimony. They said, and we have a small town here. We got the hospital to run. We got schools with educate our kids, we got rose to fixed and we can't go on this way. So there was a concern, about their community about the country and they wrote a report. We wrote a report with them to the nation about this experience and then restarted. media interviews and I did a radio national public radio calling show with two women from Ohio a red the Blue would become friends. We talked about the experience and then from around the country, people started the email. saying? Could you come to my town and do one of these workshops will put you up at our house as will recruit? The people will find the you know the Vf Lodge whatever, and so we said okay, so we just said we have to keep going better angels
the term will wonder you described the gas from the Abraham Lincoln Term, the better angels of our nature. It's the last words of his first inaugural address, trying to prevent the civil war. So you to be clear, you make it sound Donald like deliberately but you make it sound a little bit easier than it actually was. It's not like you just get the people in a room and let it rip what I was very impressed by watching you and action at this aforementioned national conference were you You had better members of the better angels from all over the country getting together, and then you are also running groups with reds and blues, and I watched as several of you moderate several of these groups, and there is a real system, could break it down? What's it like in the room? What how do you structure it and why he is kind of like marriage, counselling and away
that you want to create an environment that minimizes reactivity that maximizes the chance that people will hear each other, and so, if you just gather people around the table and toss out topics, it will be a disaster because they will interrupt each other talk over each other characterize the other person's position. It'll just be like in a family thanksgiving. So instead what we did was created a process in which there is send in the room and there are exercises that people go through like one that I know you saw. Fishbowl exercise in some of your listeners may have heard about. This is a common technique where you have to groups or different someway and flip a coin and you decide who is going to be in the middle chairs in a circle for the first part and the other group is sitting on chairs and the outside. Listening to the conversation and not interrupted
I'm not saying anything, no verbal or nonverbal participation to learn how these people see themselves and the world that your job, when you're in there so the people in the middle are talking gas and there really it's like your eavesdropping on it. radiation from the other half of America exactly the sort of thing we hardly ever get to do, because we usually were in the Congress and the people in the middle or not arguing with each other. They just explaining themselves and then, of course, you flip the outsiders in the inside out and the two questions Our better angels readily workshops in the middle of the first question is why Are your size, values and policies good for the country, why your size, values and policy is good for the countries. The first question so it lets conservative say why they think the world is better and people flourish better when we have conservative principles and values, policies and they have the level the blows do the same thing on their site. Then. The second question is part of a better angels ethic, the second,
question is what are your reservations or concerns about your own site and that's the humility part of it and so first cry a man like I remember I read, we use red and blue rather than the broken servant, a red saying that free market capitalism, has raised more people out of absolute poverty in this world and then government programme massive breakthroughs as you get micro lending and people with their own cell phones and small businesses, and he's right about that. That was part of the first part, so he cares about human flourishing and what for people who are in pain both unusually here reds talk that way. of idealism about capitalism and then on the second question, what he reservations and concerns He said, you know we say all the ships will rise. You know when the capitalism will generate wealth and he said it doesn't rise fastened
for everybody and their people left behind and we're not often so good and what to do for and with those people, while the Thai just coming it. So They say you ve got the red in the middle and the blues are listening. at the end of the allotted time where the reds have spoken in the middle. What happens next, then? You just shift Are there? No interaction, neither daddy point. Both sides have to give a chance to hear the other side. Ok with you. Sure thing about the hearing of the other size, not just like. Ok, I'm conservative and I spend our lesson DNS Nbc, where people are shouting, I'm actually listened to read other people, anger, people talking down to earth terms, that's right and the regular people don't talk in bullet points. We ve moved on
People have an initial experience like this. They can move on to other workshops where we talk about topics, and so we recently did one on abortion, where we had in eight people who were strongly pro life and a people are strongly protest, so you can get some really tough issues, but when you frame questions such as, what's the heart of this issue, for you what's the heart of this issue, for you, you get people telling stories you get people talking from their values as opposed to. Are you pro choice of pro life and give us the reasons and our public sphere people sound like talking points when you pose the question with the heart of this issue, for you, you get something else so one size in the middle of the fish bull
and they go and other other listens, then you switch it yeah and then what happens? Yes now he was a crucial part. The question on the table is: what did you learn about? How the other side's sees themselves, and did you see anything in common and fact that so I set it up? That's what you're, when you're in the outer Elsa Fishbowl charted deactivate your critic. Your argument, like our they just said that on Africa, free responses. I tried to activate the curious part of your. How did they see themselves and then be open to something you see in common? So that's what you're directed to do when you listening and so, when the two groups have gone, we have people pair up a red and blue pair up for three minutes, Two in Rwanda wine process: what did you learn about how the other sites his themselves and that you say anything come it? That's all that there are expected to do that and then we go
either the whole group around the table again for that too part question and who wants to start a red star to go to blue, back and forth MECCA for forth and the moderation of this- and this is what we train our moderators too. If anybody fears off answering those two questions: you stop them in his hands. So if somebody word to say, I thought their second point, they didn't rip up right now, we're just answering: what did you learn about how they see themselves? I think I'm just stop them. If you let them go, the other side is gonna wanna retort and it could escalate and by the way, in the ground rules where people have assented to this idea We're only going to deal with it what's on the table at this time and
give the moderators permission to intervene if people very often so there are two things at least a strike me as deeply wise about this approach. One is you structure to care fully so that you're not activating the amygdala, as this stress centre of the brain of the participants, once you activate the stress centre, it would basically can't think straight and you're very carefully activating other parts of the brain which I think are probably run empathy and compassion and there's an expression. It's hard to hate up close yes and after you sad and listen to the other side, hash things out in a personal way, and then you are faced with actual real life person in a dialogue and a one on one who it's hard to get the hatred fired up as much as it might be if you're, just
watching the other side. Demonized on your favorite cable. Tell yes, you're, not doing outrage tv watching weren't here, just those are the particular species of animals that your. What your engaging. Did we get all the way through how a session works? Well, there's more available at one of the most step in a red blue workshop. They first exercise is not the fish. Ball is what we call stereotypes exercise and that is we have. Each group goes for supper, room, resin, blues separately, to come up with the four top false negative, exaggerated stereotypes that people have of their of their site. What do people think of us read that is false, negative exaggerate as blows and they brainstorm a whole list and then they vote. On the top floor, and then for each of those they go through two parts. One is to correct this
type if they think that we read a racist and hate all immigrants what's true instead, okay, so articulate are leaf in human equality and human dignity, and are belief that America was built on immigration, and we know we wanted to be legal and controlled that we like immigration and then the second question is: what's the kernel of truth in this, and what part of that may have some truth in it the humility part and we give them some categories to think about colonels or truth. One may be that this may be true of a subset of your group. It may be something in historical. That's carried over that still brands. Your group It may be in the heated rhetoric of public debate. Your site comes across this way, sometimes
be this is an area that is something you group does not focus on. A lot may be better, go blind spot or something that you relegated to a third or fourth area, but not primary. So we give him some ideas about that. So for each of those, it's like. What's your instead and is their kernel of truth, and then we select somebody from each group. They come back together to present that, to the other side, here's what we think people get wrong about us. Her sallies yourself, a give examples on the plus side, arrogance and the latest is always a big one. They government, for its own sake, unpatriotic, anti, religious so, what's your instead and then, where did this star tat come from in some way that might be grounded, so they can bacteria they present and then the question again. What You learn about how the other side's sees themselves and that you see any thing in common, starts with one one and then around the table. So what that does
That strategy does- and I learned it from Boston Base Group, originally culpable conversations I didn't make. This went up if you get the worst stuff out at the beginning. The workshop ok as you are always afraid somebody around the room is guy, says you have a magyar racist, ok and a blue is aware that this can be a prologue persons get your baby killer. People are nervous, you get all that crap out, but you saying about how people see your site, you get it all out, and then you get a chance to clarify, and I want to mention where the idea for the colonel truth. Cassettes are part of the original stereotypes exercise than ever, years ago, from public conversation screw, it happened in our second ever workshop in Ohio. We did
first, one that was glorious and without well. We need to do at least one more to see if the first one was a fluke and when the reds we're doing their stereotypes and the racist thing you know, that is always the first one that the Reds word about the serious crisis, and so they did their correction of it and then somebody said you know I hate. When are we just get on assert their racist sentiments and some of our leaders are courageous, say it, and that this is partly where this directive comes from when they were yeah? I guess so they did that in the report up for a number of their stereotypes, and blow the minds of the both, because the blues just follow the instructions. In other words, why are we not bad guys and the reds were vulnerable and it completely open up the workshop, as so, I said to myself: we gonna build that into that action that's great. So the way goes if I'm going to the family
first time at a better angels gathering we're gonna. Do the stereotype exercise. There were no official. And there were new, the one on one's near the water ones are part of a larger final, yet apart part of each one, part of ITALY, for we process with the whole group we process wonder why is that it or their other there three hour, the red blue a regular. We have other workshops, wayward t, skills and other things, but for the Red Blue Workshop, the three our version, that's basically it and you do a kind of a check out before the day, long workshop. There is a third exercise where, with questions and answers exercise, so by this time you ve heard enough from folks there's enough trust you get a chance to. ask questions of the other side, and I want to take the back story here, because the very first workshop that we did you said at the beginning,
I was making sound easy. It was hard, it was hard and the hardest part of it was that I made a mistake with a design. I thought that I, explaining the difference between a question of curiosity and a gotcha question and give examples, would be enough for people to be able to ask good questions that were not verse, one of my favorite gotcha one would be so given that your candidate is unknown sexual predator is about how you came to vote right. So I explained it gave people few minutes to write the crisis down the got in sub groups and of the question so terrible in terms they just stirred d settlers, and then I had to use my therapist skills then to help people rephrase thanks.
Number one, particularly angry blue, almost left the workshop. She thought I was stifling hers. I had to make up with her afterwards, because I wouldn't. Let me just ask these questions so from then on. What we do is we get the reds and the blues in separate rooms, twenty minutes to come up with for good questions for the other group and we curate them and is actually kind of fun cause they make me is how it really like ass but ok, that's gonna serve to pessimists and by the way, by this time they come to know each other bitten. They don't really want to put the other group on the spot, so this is processed work. How do you define yes? So what we ve been able to do so far with our very limited resources. Is we when evaluation. At the end of the workshop around the goals of it, understanding the other side, more deeply, feeling more understood, showing I give some skills to have conversations and those are
very positive. You know what you know. We have a one to ten scale on the back between seven and eight, you know it's what people come out, they feel like they got we now, I'm glad to say we ve been out there for a couple years now we're attracting interest from accidents in other words, so there's a study under way at six universities. Now, with college students will recall randomized, trial trial with control group- that's going to follow people overtime and so we'll know more about the. You know more scientifically how it's going, but I can say it's people subjective experience of this when we ask people to check out at the end about you know what they're taking with them, the biggest one they say is that I have more help for the country. I'd learned that people in the other side are people who I share a concern about our country. With that. I share some coming back as with, even though we differ a lot of policy
so that's what people tend to take from animal, no scientifically more overtime. There's a phrase that I love that I heard for the first time, while hanging out with you guys, which is that Europe goal is not to get convert to win. Convert it's to arrive at quote accurate. agreement, yeah, that's one of the girls, I say the accurate disagreement goal is that we both actually understand each others. Whose which then allows us to see where we differ most conflict and disagreement about politics? Is each side stereotyping, the other side, you guys don't care about fiscal responsibility and we do
guys don't care about the poor and we do ok at a larger level, but even on particular policies. People can't articulate in a way that the other side could get. You know my position on that and what happens if I was involved in this so around the gay marriage issue some years ago, with a group that met several times
a pro and anti gay marriage and the achievement, nobody change their minds, but they actually understood the other person's position more and then people really friends whose war people get angry. Is this exact writing my view? You say what I care about SAM ignorant so accurate. This agreement humanising an accurate yeah yeah, seeing each other understand each other beyond stereotypes, finding common ground and accurate disagreement on the things that you different. While we don't have scientific evidence, yet it seems like it's in the offing. One qualitative result that's compelling is that a new feature these folks on your website? There holly strange bedfellows. Now they all these real friendships and I met these people and I can confirm this real warmth and that does not appear to be affected, who, between red and blue,
whose I did a store and you guys for new line, and we followed one one of these pairs it was up. traditional red voter. the guy forget it Gregg, Gregg, right and Clia. We're clear, lose an immigrant and software design guy and I think Greg's, a former cop, the construction work, revenge, algal, christian and clear. As to software engineer, had I if I go and who are living affluent suburban Gregg lives in exert in a more rural area and you'll, be hard pressed to find two more constitutionally differ and human beings and they really like each other men. I kept poking added and I they have just arrived at accurate disagreement their humanizing right and the thing is they just happened to sit next to each other at the workshop, this was no
design, and I remember one of the things they said to each other at that very first workshop. In a pair, they both said their religions have been hijacked clears religion. Is Islam As he believes from IRAN News from IRAN now they both love this country and they completely disagree about things like abortion for Gregg. Abortion is like the central issue in his work old, and for him to be able to be friends, somebody who is not a christian and be who is pro choice is really quite remarkable. So how has the organization grown it? The starting in twenty? Sixteen were in twenty twenty. Now, how robust is it? You mention limited resources here, that's whatever. promises a lot more money and polarization and depolarization a about. We decided two thousand seventeen to be
I'm a membership organization. Membership is just while dollars a year and so were up, I think, to nine thousand members and growing, and we have had workshops, I think in thirty seven states. So he had five or six hundred workshops. Few hundred train moderators, we of alliances in about twenty states in these are people who have been through initial workshops and then they form red blue alliances. They made monthly talk about his shoes spots rather workshops. We are getting interest from poetic Fox in Minnesota, where I'm from. I did a workshop for thirty members of our state legislature. A skills workshops are even talked about that as much. We have skills workshops, We teach people how to listen in a way that the other fears understood how to express your political views in way that their more apt to absorb those eminent people practice some thirty legislators, both of Democrats and Republicans,
and when I asked him why they came a number them said, when they were door knocking during the last election, the biggest issue they heard from constituents, both sides Lebrun conservatives get over this divisiveness, paralyzing us paralyzing government, and I still remember of Republic Those were senior committee member. I was only when they are in a suit and type when we had the practice making put political points with I messages, rather than just sort of absolute truths. Statements on the things we teach. This is how I see it
After practice, you said you know, I sound more human this way, so we're gonna be doing a workshop for county commissioners in Minnesota, coming up because they're kind of different parts of the state or split, and we did a workshop for the congressional staff members of two members of Congress from our Minnesota delegation for observe, deem Philips and representing stubborn, her birth freshman in the Congress in the house and the members of something called the problem, solvers caucus, which has say twenty four Republicans. Twenty four Democrats were committed, the bi partisanship, sir, We had seven of their staff members, each other staff members together for a full day, going through a better ranges, die workshop. It was really powerful much more of my car
with bill. Dorothy ran after this staying informed has never been more important. Information is coming in us faster than ever. So how do you make sensible start here? I'm bread milky from ABC News, and every week days we will break down the latest headlines in just twenty minutes: straightforward reporting, dynamic interviews and analysis from experts. You can trust, always credible, always solid start here from ABC News. Twenty minutes, every we get smart speaker or you figure podcast app. I think what you're doing is really important Huber interesting and by the way I want to point out at work and in a minute been dive deep into the skills, because I think it was in this show are gonna want that, but forget
We just ass. This I have already said. I think the group is fascinating and workers unimpeachable to use a loaded term important. Why do you think more people are not doing this and do you get discouraged law? king at the size of the organization and IE seemingly relenting pace of polarisation in this country? Well, I dont get the scars. To say I heard the optimistic irish genes, nothin depressive once so. I'd look at it. This way that were involved in social change, cultural change and the FAO. Stage, and that is naming a problem and now one thing our country agrees on, and there was a recent nothing pew polar on this. Ninety five percent of Americans agree were to divide it, that's
Pulsar said you don't get ninety five percent agreement on the earth being round me. This is unanimous. So the beginning of change is naming a problem and problem. The people naming is not just the other side. Ok, it's about. We when you talk about polarization, is like a merry couple saying we have problems in our relationship. It isn't just your bugging me. We have a problem, and so that is beginning to take hold in the country and as the beginning of change and for me, with our low resource target, we have about seven staff members. Everybody else, including me, is a voluntary. We have people who have retired and devoted their entire retirement. To this work is,
nominal its phenomenal, so I think, and their other organisations working in this this field too. So I think, there's something beginning to shift. So I am hopeful. I do want to point out that a particular advances, better Jos has from the beginning, we made the decision that our Leadership Board staff leadership group, core volunteers, state coordinators, would be halfway, upload, so I'm gonna leadership, zoom call every week that is half right ampler and there is a purifying elements that you're not in your own group. You dont have just your own assume the language and so I've learned, for example, how colorized language are so blue terms, like diversity and equity and inclusion and privilege. right worse, but every other word is privileged. These days, you stating my privileges that Cathy and these perfectly fine terms, and they completely turn
I've read so you have in your company, you have it your university, a division for diversity, inclusion and those words say to read not me made at the time everybody else but me, and they hold back at that support is intended, but that's how they receive similarly red terms like self sufficiency alive. of country. You know american greatness fiscal responsibility what's wrong with us terms, but they trigger blows- and I learned this through better angels, where you wear my red blue. I don't talk about that. You don't know I'll get a bit better if you're, good he's going to be meticulous about making sure there's even representation between red and blue. How did they classify you? David blackened
Mr President, my are given permission to be whites, white hat yeah. That's right but what I can tell you my own transformation is. That I always wanted to be bilingual, but never was. But now I am, I can speak redder blue catch it that's a valuable skill, so skills, let's talk about, because I deem many people listening for better or worse rather I gotta go to worship but name having their orbits somebody or several, with, whom they disagree, so it actually, by the way these skills are eminently scalable beyond political disagreement to just humans grim it. So I know of- and let's start with these three skills that I know of, and then we can go beyond that. If you want one of the recommended actions from you and you ve, already reference. This is you I language. You often hear this insert of various touchy feely workshops.
Then in over the years, keep it in the eye Why is that so important? Here we say I statements rather than truth statements. So I'll start with the truth. Is this? The things is the way know if your you know, if you're a red saying emigrants take jobs from American sooner particularly illegal, they take our jobs, and that is a example. The a true statement. Chances are the person saying this is not a researcher on immigration and crime. They read that somewhere they ve heard that summer. But to say from what I understand, from what I have read or from my perspective, on own it. So this is how
What I think is going on based on what I have read or what I've heard. I'm still making the same point, but I'm not saying this guy's blue dummy truth statements around politics tend to come with a comma at the end dummy if you don't agree with me on that, whereas to say ice believe this. I see this. This is what I am sing at all, so you can be this is why not touching feeling you can be vigorous on that and still put and I in there and some of what I explained this to people that almost None of us have direct personal access to policy, relevant facts, So I'll do a little side on this now because blues in particular like to say, we can't even agree on facts that we have to establish the facts. As before we can have the policy discussion in those people. On the other side there just watching Fox NEWS and their completely be raft of.
back. So how do we even talk to these people? This is part of my blue sky. Arrogant and lead us whether and Do what I say on that. I realize I'm resting on your original question here really is that Most of us don't have direct access to policy relevant facts. If you're, not a climate scientists, you don't know the science behind climate change. for the rest of us. We rely on exports that we trust reliance. Ursus, it's a matter of trust, Social trust where we get information related to policy that we believe is credible, and so why not say this is my understanding of this. Based on where I got my information, what that opens up is the other person with invited to make an ice.
even as well that based on what they understand that they don't think, that's true and now we're not having a clash of religious truth, you know, God, as this God is, that Jesus disasters is that those just there just the clashing truth statements better to use. I statements another of your precepts don't try to convince anybody, win yeah yeah. If you start out the converse, nation, with the idea that my goal is to persuade you to change your mind about something, that's important to you, you're done from the beginning,
We have a brand new workshop by the way on families in politics and the we call the prime directive for talking about politics with relatives in this to be true for close friends, but the prime directive is do not try to change or family member. You can only change yourself, do not try to change a family member, and so particularly nowadays, when political beliefs, and affiliation have become part of identity. For so many people with their part of core values, There is a moral tone to being a Republican, a Democrat these days in the way that it didn't used to be before if the person in the conversation gets the sense that you want to change their political philosophy, beliefs, something they're going to just absolutely rebelled. Rule of thumb from you is: don't characterize the other parties, yes positions, only your
yes. Yes, it goes along with the eye statement. Thing speak from your own convictions, your own beliefs and dots, characterize the others, because in evidently they will not see it. The way you just characterized, so this is something in her from marriage. Counselling is when somebody says: well, my wife thinks this about this issue. I just stop them immediately. Because unless this person, just quoting her for what she said two minutes ago, using her exact words, there's a good chance that she doesn't quite see it exactly like that and so an that's. Even if you're trying to be nice to somebody, let alone, if your characterizing, their side, that you disagree with. So you set up these strong arguments, your site,
doesn't you don't even understand how important immigration is to our economy, and then you just gonna, get defensiveness, so it's we talk about in family there. We talk about boundaries, saying on my side of the boundary so that I am not characterizing you and your people in ways and inevitably you will not think are fair. It was handling for me to see these rules and realise that I break all of them all that are there other skills that are whack solved. A mention. Another won't find something to agree with in the other person's view before you disagree. That means you have actually listened to them can find something to agree with, and it could be something like I agreed. This is eight
we're in a mass on immigration, a king or I agree, we haven't figured out how to do this gun control thing in our countries really or you're a blue and you're. Talking to a second amendment, oriented red you don't want abolish the second amendment you wanna take away every by his guns of the country that if this were the purser me thank you want to do cause you're and hide dungeon about the measuring, since, as so, if you begin by saying, I'm with you on markets have the right to bear arms, and I want to take a responsible people's guns. It's part of our culture and I think it ought to be. You have actually believe what you just said: okay, but something to agree with what that does it softens the other person cuz? If you agree with me on Sunday, I think you're, not maybe as dumb as I thought, you were a new found, something in me or it could be less take immigration,
Almost anybody, neither side could say this with confidence and have the other person agree that both political party the big kicking the canned down the road on immigration for the last thirty years, even when they had big majorities in Congress and we as a country have been not responsible on the simple parties are at fault. Chances are whoever your disagree with is going to agree with what you just said so find something has to be real, find something too. agree on its let's say: you're having a big debate about Healthcare, Medicare fraud versus more market oriented thing. You could say that I agree with you that we have to find a way that everybody gets good healthcare in this country. So anyway. My point is something to agree with and then get a yet yeah yeah, you're, right pop up and then there's a new scale were teaching. Now that I mentioned this a before, somebody is really worked up about their assure you
something agree with, and then the scales called pivoting before I come up with my counter position. Basically asking permission took it in so you're. Really fired up about gun control, and I say I'm with your love Obama by river that and then instead of just saying, I think we should be limited guns, a lot more or less safe on the blue to say, as so I've some thoughts about the constitution and what we can do with. I have some thoughts, but I've been thinking about. This does call a pivot, your signalling,
that you want to get in with your own perspective and then you're looking for either nonverbal verbal agreement. For that, when I explained pivoting two people, I think I give an example. Let's say in a group conversation people who are very skilled who want to change the topic and we ve been on the finances and I think we need to move to personal. They dont just do it changed the topic. They say. I wonder if we could change the subject right now and move over to such as such, and they looked for that even on the group from the group, and then they do it. S got a pivot, and so particular conversations with somebody. Who's really fired up about it in our. Where shall we talk about the family gladiator Yet the gladiators agreement for you to start giving your perspective conceptualize after the first and when I was on an override with a guy from a small sum ten and higher it
where they call him over Jack in only, and so he picked me up at the airport in society, we have a long trip. and so he was going on for at some length about how he thought about present trump and changing line of this and then the other thing and then and I'd lessened M engaged and then at one point I just said so interested in my thoughts about the present. He said he I am, and so then I have the floor. I had the floor, so that's another kind of new one were teaching so to summarize the two additional ones, its find something to agree with before you disagree and acquire Susie. I statements inside and consider, particularly if it's kind of a tense situation consider a pivot.
you get the go ahead to then give your own perspective. I like it, because what you're doing for Europe interlocutor here is two things. One playing into de visceral primordial appeal of being heard. Is your finding something in order to have found an area of describing, you would have had to listen and then dating Euro language, which feels good, even if the present don't even know tat Google and then you're getting their consent to pivot and people like the having their consent sought. Yes, so ok, so we just learn a bunch from you five skills, behavior change it. Hard habit, Jane, have formation habit. Breaking habits are all really hard things how it recommend we start operational this advice and our own lives. One thing we,
and I'll do is planned in advance, so chances are. If you gotta, have difficult conversations across political difference are gonna be with the same people it in. I could do it on a subway. It's going to be somebody in your life, your old friend, gif, relativity and law with her, and that there's a certain amount of predictability in this one of things we say in this new family in politics, workshop is in advance with family is so predictable. This is not your first rodeo with your family, and so you can actually and in advance to approach the conversation, not in a reactive way, like somebody pops off with something that up and then you're in, but your migdol activated. You could actually going to a saying. I'm gonna try out some skills here, I'm going to try out agreeing with find something to agree with her.
and see how it goes, and this is something that I in practice in my life, I have them. I relatives around the country some of my visit in some of whom come to Minnesota, who are all over the place politically and by the way as it aside extended. Families are one of the last bastion of political diversity in our country, because you didn't choose your in loss in your cousins and all those people, Sir, your parents, your siblings, but you gotta sort of hang out with them. So I have some relatives that when I better. They visit ass. I plan I am looking forward to a conversation in which I am not starting out triggered, and so one of the things I do say with one relative is to say so. How are people on your part of the country? Viewing the president present jump right now. people love to expound and you notice the question was,
How are you feeling I could accept, but I'd ask a more kind of sociological cos, is. It is also not values laid in Euro saying how are people you're part of the country think about those awful Senate timber that's wrong. How are the people in Europe where the country's main about this terrible president bright blue practice, the scale and you there? two things in there that I heard that I I agree with the related one- is makes a lot of sense to think ahead. Given how hard it is to operational as new skills, who the other is one, can approach this with a certain amount of delight and interest because it can invert the situation. In other words, instead of the drag you may feel budget. obnoxious uncle this is an opportunity to practise a skill. That's gonna help you in many areas for life and then the whole complexion of the opportunity. obligation changes. Yes, I have another idea. Can I hear that guy groups over there
I understand, I think- and I said publicly. I wrote a com. but your work for men's health and I proposed the following, and I spec you might agree I never really ass. You know you, you do agree. I think that I think are contemplative practice Meditation. She gone that comes to mind, reduces, the baseline level of a Magdala activation, who am can from your eyes, you with your own mind in a way that reduces the odds that you're gonna get triggered, gives you may notice some noxious thoughts emanating from your mind and you're not is likely to be caught up in can be a really salutary addition to this process. The absolutely absolutely I'm thinking of at the moment, as you were talking of a judge friend of mine, whose retired judge, who is a long term editor who we completely agree with what you're saying
and applies it in the court where people are only in front of them because their serious conflict and he talks about me- caning, his own kind of emotional state, and he also says he concerted tell which lawyers vetted sectors are not by their bearing. So I think that this is helpful in our work and its also helpful in these relationships that we have- and I want to tide specifically into not wanting to change people, because the heart of close relationships is accepting people accepting that this person, who I love, who struggle with sometimes is who they are. They come to this point in their life, and this is how they see the world in. This is how they see politics, and they are not asking me to change them and it's not my job to change them and I can feel ok. My son.
with them, as they are ever meditation teacher Joseph Goldstein, very close with him. I was listening to him, give a top recently about a kind of meditation called Mehta, Emmy, TT or loving kindness meditation, where you repeat these sort of phrases of well wishing and hurled them mentally, silently at various people in your life and when he said that the there's been a lot, a study that this type of meditation is very effective in lots of ways psychologically physiologically for people and But one of the things he said was the radical. Take away from this kind of meditation is the way you feel about. Another person is not contingent upon their behaviour is contingent on your mindset, beautiful and it that is, there It changes the way you move. Well, my experience, change the way move through the world, and I will also say just on this issue of the
for I was given my opinion about how approaching heretofore dreaded conversations and who, with a sense of opportunity of I'm not talking. This is an academic Europe. I done A reasonable amount of communications, training myself, because I communication skills in many areas have been deeply lack and it really I've noticed that applying them neither conversations a certain amount of excitement I'm like ok, this is a chance for me to practice and by waves, I'd just pay things I'm random, new skill that doesn't matter is like my yo yo skills have gotten better it's that my life is better as a consequence of doing this. My did moment to moment experience of being alive and being in relationships with other homo sapiens. Is why
A more easily yeah, that's beautifully said, and what I want to add is that if I can approach people with curiosity because I'm not trying to change them, then sometimes I listened for and ask for the deeper story behind the disagreement. So a relative with very strong opinions about the political issue comes out of law enforcement and when I took the time one day to get some deeper background stories, I understood
a lot better how this person came to their views, even if they sometimes say them in ways that are kind of sharp. There is something soft underneath you know you know in therapy. We talk about the hard south feelings. Hearing. Angers are feeling of frustration and resentment, there's always soft feelings under them, and I think in the same way, for people who are tick curly hard to take sometimes with their political views. You know they're making their truth. Spencer, Absolute and the other side, as you know, is entirely wrong. There's something under there that is making them come across in this way and if you're not trying to change them- and you are interested in the deeper story, and you wouldn't let go when you're. Having that conversation, you completely let go of having to express your view in other is your kind of an anthropologist,
by the way you dont have to relinquish your values to do this. Now you is in your interests, given the you, don't have a choice and he way yes to have these conversations turn into something can be interesting scale, building restorative, as opposed to a grind. Demoralising, and you can still believe what you believe and I have found that if people can from a greatly in the end. They know, and we both know it if they feel my respect. I remember a guy saying I just want to be treated as a moral and intellectual equal and is a very smart guy. He was a. City professor in a school in setting that at work
was in the minority when he was a red and he was in higher. Education is very blue and he said I'd pay will have to give that I just want to be treated as a moral intellectual, equal lemme ask you enclosing you ve chosen to build a life where you're putting yourself in the middle of cars on the regular you working with red and blue you working with couples on the verge of of divorce. Lay some black man. I was just going to say at me. I know you do all sorts of other community oriented work. Why have you could have a much easier quote on called life in many ways? Why do you do this now is ever ask me that
I enjoy being in the middle of action. I enjoy being close to the tension points in the pivot points. Were there can be breakthroughs? I think that's how I would answer at. I I like bringing what I can bring to those very difficult moments so My clinical specialties couples on the brink of divorce, where one once out or is it certainly leaning out of the relationship and the other wants to save it. So they have very different agenda and I do brief work with them and no more than five sessions is called discernment. Counseling and I love the intensity of it above the intensity of what I hear you saying is not all you love the intensity of it, but you also love the fact that you can help
Yeah, you know enough in chemistry. Their talk about that become again are far from equilibrium: states of chemicals systems, that's where change can occur, and so, when there are pressure points, so everything I do is try to look for a price point something has to give here. We can't go on like we are, and then what can I do with that pressure point right? There were something may pop. I know I said I was my last question about something came to mind. You had said to me on our first meeting, which was actually this work with red and blue is harder than working with couple yeah that there is with couples. There is a history of love. There is a shared that they have. Children together Save cancers you know, there's glue that has been there and with reason, blues we're living in different silent. You know they look at the countries, the map, the red and the
when we were moving away from each other and shutting down and then lacking the ability to communicate when we come together, so in that way is more difficult. Well, I heard you say before that you ve got the optimism. Gene from your irish forebears. Well, I don't know if I have that for my on one side, do it forebears and the other said scottish, but I hope you're right I'll be right because, as journalist I see this terror apart from all the time and its charge. Watch really appreciate you come, and I am happy to do that. I'm thrilled before I go. If people want to learn more about better angels or join or support, how can it do so so go go? angels of secular, be better hyphen, angels, dot, org and please, We have an online skills workshop that people
when they join, and we have lots of things going on around the country great job. Thank you. Thank you. Big thanks to bill and big thanks as well to the folks who worked so hard to put this show together, Samuel Jobs is our senior producer dj Cashmeres are producer. Jewels Dodson is our a p. Sound designer is met Boyton from ultraviolet Audio, Maria, We're tell us our production coordinator, we get a ton of massively helpful input from Tpa colleagues such as Gent Point, Nick Toby, Ben Reuben, endless Levin and finally, as always, big thank you to my ABC News. Comrades, rang Kessler. Josh co hand will see you on Friday for a bonus,
Transcript generated on 2020-11-18.