Challenge 3 — Disagree Better
Politics has become America’s empathic black hole. Individuals on the left and right increasingly regard each other with fear and loathing. Empathizing across this chasm can seem like a waste of time, or worse, a betrayal of our own ideological tribe.
But empathy is not the same as condoning someone’s beliefs—it merely entails trying to understand them better. One way to do so is by going beyond an opinion to the person underneath: the fears, hopes, and memories that shape what they believe.
Today, find and talk with someone who disagrees with you. Start by asserting your respective positions. But then, instead of debating your views, tell each other the story of how you came to have them in the first place. Try to cultivate, and display, curiosity about this person, rather than judging them immediately.
Did this approach led to a more productive discussion than you would have had otherwise? Why or why not? Were you surprised by anything you learned?