Polarization in America

Monica Guzman, Senior Fellow for Public Practice of Braver Angels

June 11, 2024


Polarization in America - There is something YOU can do about it! Welcome to The Marketing Accelerator Podcast, featuring three insights in about three minutes. I'm Drew Dinkelacker. Today, I am speaking with Monica Guzman from Braver Angels, where she is the Senior Fellow for Public Practice. Braver Angels is America's largest and fastest growing organization, bringing together conservatives and progressives on equal terms to clarify disagreements, find common ground where it exists, and work together to save our country. Monica, give me the inside scoop on the purpose behind Braver Angels.

Monica Guzman: So, Drew, the purpose behind Braver Angels is very deliberately not to try to change people's minds on the issues. Our disagreements are real and they are tough, but rather to change our minds about each other so that we can have really productive and constructive disagreements that we desperately need across something as big and sometimes toxic as the political divide. And the reason that we do that is because while getting to truth is eminently important, we can't access truth without trust, especially when there's such strong disagreement that it feels like people are living in different worlds.

Drew: I understand the concept of establishing trust to find truth, but how do I practically go about that?

Monica: So, at Braver Angels, there is a tool we teach called The Pivot, and you can try this at your next disagreement, wherever it happens to be. So, let's say that you disagree with someone about abortion, and you ask a curious question, and you're listening to the other person's perspective who disagrees with you. And then you come in with a pivot. You begin by paraphrasing, summing up what you understand them to be saying. So, if I hear you right, you're concerned about this or that about abortion, is that right? And they go, yeah. And then you go, you know, I see it differently. Can I tell you what I mean? And what you're doing there is you're kind of asking for their buy-in, you are really priming them to listen to you just like you've spent some time listening to them.

Drew: That makes a lot of sense. Is there any place where the pivot doesn't work?

Monica: So many places. If you are in a relationship where there just isn't a lot of trust or the kind of familiarity, or proximity where you feel that you can even be in an interaction where you can ask a curious question and this person will actually tell you what they think, that can happen quite frequently. The principle to keep in mind is that people can only hear when they're heard, and we can't control how heard other people feel by us. All we can do is try to kind of creep closer and closer to building trust by demonstrating receptiveness to what other people think, and trying to restrain ourselves from showing too much judgment, or jumping in too fast with our opinion, and, over time, that trust will build. People will feel heard and the conversation can happen.

Drew: Great insights, Monica. I'm a dues-paying member of Braver Angels. My life, my family, my friends, my clients have all benefited from the skills I've learned about engaging with others via Braver Angels. The Marketing Accelerator Podcast is a production of MarketingAccelerator.com, where business leaders gain confidence in their marketing efforts, and marketers turn into high performing leaders. I'm Drew Dinkelacker.