A recent Business Insider article tells the story of a liberal Silicon Valley entrepreneur who moved to Provo to seek out more diverse opinions and conversations. Among the lessons he learned:
- We all tend to have warped views of each other based on stereotyping and prejudice
- People can surprise you about what they actually believe and why
- Hearing more from people with a different ideology can expand your understanding of an issue and your empathy for others
- Most of us agree on most of the issues
Action Utah is a bridge building organization. That means we reach out to people with diverse perspectives, work with people who disagree with us, and find common ground solutions that in the end are often better for it. Bridge building can bring more people to the table. And it can change hearts and minds. But bridge building is challenging. And it starts with a small experiences talking with people who have a different opinion.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
- Step out of your echo chambers – Echo chambers have been shown to make people more politically extreme. Are you a conservative or liberal who enjoys rant groups on Facebook, political discussions in like-minded social gatherings or with friends or family you agree with? Spend a week or two away from these echo chambers and proactively embrace a different ideological setting for your political conversations.
- Use a variety of news sources – Nonpartisan analysts study news sources for media bias and false news and rate them on an ideology scale. If you are accustomed to getting your news from left or right leaning sources, find sources in the middle, or mix and match with sources that lean slightly in the other direction. Open your mind to the concerns of the other side. Digest media with an understanding of media bias (and how it is different from news that reports on something you disagree with). Read more about media bias and how to identify it.
- Listen – Pursue conversations with people who disagree with you. Don’t try to convince them. Just ask questions and listen. Try not to judge others for their beliefs – try to understand their beliefs. Where are they coming from, why do they believe what they believe? Put yourself in their shoes. Check out this TED Talk on “Why it’s worth listening to people you disagree with“.