This is the first episode in a three-part series about how to have difficult conversations with people who see the world differently, how to have better debates about contentious issues, and how to ethically and scientifically persuade one another about things that matter – in short, this is a three-part series about How Minds Change (which is also the title of my new book).
There seems to be a movement afoot, a new wave of nonfiction about how to reduce all this argumentative madness and epistemic chaos. I want to boost everyone’s signal on this issue, so I thought it would be nice to collaborate instead of compete, since that’s part of what we are all proselytizing with these books.
So this episode’s guest is Mónica Guzmán, the author of I Never Thought of It That Way – a book with very practical advice on how to have productive conversations in a polarized political environment via authentic curiosity about where people’s opinions, attitudes, and values come from. In short, it’s about how to reduce polarization and learn from those with whom we disagree by establishing the sort of dynamic in which they will eagerly learn from us as well.
— OFFICIAL DESCRIPTION OF THE BOOK–
We think we have the answers, but we need to be asking a lot more questions. Journalist Mónica Guzmán is the loving liberal daughter of Mexican immigrants who voted—twice—for Donald Trump. When the country could no longer see straight across the political divide, Mónica set out to find what was blinding us and discovered the most eye-opening tool we’re not using: our own built-in curiosity.
Partisanship is up, trust is down, and our social media feeds make us sure we’re right and everyone else is ignorant (or worse). But avoiding one another is hurting our relationships and our society. In this timely, personal guide, Mónica, the chief storyteller for the national cross-partisan depolarization organization Braver Angels, takes you to the real front lines of a crisis that threatens to grind America to a halt—broken conversations among confounded people.
She shows you how to overcome the fear and certainty that surround us to finally do what only seems impossible: understand and even learn from people in your life whose whole worldview is different from or even opposed to yours.
Drawing from cross-partisan conversations she’s had, organized, or witnessed everywhere from the echo chambers on social media to the wheat fields in Oregon to raw, unfiltered fights with her own family on election night, Mónica shows how you can put your natural sense of wonder to work for you immediately, finding the answers you need by talking with people—rather than about them—and asking the questions you want, curiously.
Whether you’re left, right, center, or not a fan of labels: If you’re ready to fight back against the confusion, heartbreak, and madness of our dangerously divided times—in your own life, at least—Mónica’s got the tools and fresh, surprising insights to prove that seeing where people are coming from isn’t just possible. It’s easier than you think.
Mónica Guzmán is Senior Fellow for Public Practice at Braver Angels, a nonprofit working to depolarize America, founder and CEO of Reclaim Curiosity, an organization working to build a more curious world; and author of I Never Thought Of It That Way: How to Have Fearlessly Curious Conversations in Dangerously Divided Times.
Moni was a 2019 fellow at the Henry M. Jackson Foundation, where she studied social and political division, and a 2016 fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, where she studied how journalists can better meet the needs of a participatory public. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, the Glenn Beck Podcast, Reader’s Digest, BookTV, and EconTalk, and she is an advisor for Starts With Us and the Generations Over Dinner project.
Before committing to the project of helping people understand each other across the political divide, Mónica cofounded the award-winning Seattle newsletter The Evergrey and led a national network of groundbreaking local newsletters as VP of Local for WhereBy.Us.
She was named one of the 50 most influential women in Seattle, served twice as a juror for the Pulitzer Prizes, and plays a barbarian named Shadrack in her besties’ Dungeons & Dragons campaign.