How to Have Fearlessly Curious Conversations in Dangerously Divided Times

With the public gravitating toward insular hostile camps, bipartisan cooperation is rare in our current politics. Mónica Guzmán building a bridge between such groups. She has experience in doing so as the director of digital and storytelling at Braver Angels, a nonprofit dedicated to bridging the partisan divide in our democratic republic.

Guzmán argues that creating and sustaining a discussion is very achievable in her book I Never Thought of It That Way: How to Have Fearlessly Curious Conversations in Dangerously Divided Times. Guzmán shows we can participate in less hostile conversations if we are open to listening and understanding why others have different beliefs.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

How do you have a conversation with someone who sees the left’s agenda being akin to communism, something dark and destructive?

In the same way I have a conversation with anyone who holds views I don’t share and struggle to understand: by getting curious not just about the perspective but the person. What led them to that view? What have they done or seen that points to it? I’ve had this particular conversation with several people and have found things I can relate to by asking not why they believe what they believe but how…