How to have difficult political conversations

Becca Kearl is on a mission to help people engage in political conversations even when they don’t agree.

She is the leader of Living Room Conversations, a nonprofit that tries to help people find meaning in the most difficult conversations.

The national group offers conversation guides and resources on how to approach divisive topics— from politics to race. 

“We have this tendency to think anyone who doesn’t agree with me must just be stupid or irrational,” says Ethan Adams, a third-party voter.

Adams was one of several voters, with different political outlooks, engaging in a conversation in Kearl’s living room.

Tanei Henry, a progressive voter and mother of four, sat next to Adams.

“I see people putting up these signs for local and general elections and I think, “Oh my gosh, what are they, why would they put that sign up?’ or I think, ‘Yes, we are on the same team.’”

Kearl says people should set time aside to discuss political issues, have a list of questions to guide the conversation, put ground rules in place so people don’t interrupt each other and approach the discussion ready to understand other viewpoints.

“I think that society has always come to the point where we’re pointing fingers and asking why aren’t they listening to me,” said Debora Fletcher, a conservative voter.

Living Room Conversations also hosts talks over Zoom that people can join. It also provides resources on how people can effectively host their own conversations. 

“We’re all faced with making political choices in an election year, so just try to understand how people approach that can be really helpful,” Kearl says.





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