A recent Wall Street Journal-NORC poll found that 86% of Americans believe we are deeply divided when it comes to our values. More than half of respondents said they expect those divisions to be even greater five years from now.
Poll results like this are hardly surprising. It seems almost every issue, from gun control to abortion rights to immigration, elicits completely polarized and impassioned responses from either side.
The question is, where do we go from here? Journalist and entrepreneur Mónica Guzmán has some ideas. As the staunchly liberal daughter of staunchly conservative Mexican immigrants, Guzmán has lived the political divide firsthand. In her new book, I Never Thought of it That Way: How to Have Fearlessly Curious Conversations in Dangerously Divided Times, she describes how social media has made it increasingly easy to attack “the other side,” while also ignoring what they have to say or rejecting it outright. Through her grassroots, cross-partisan organization Braver Angels, Guzmán has been working tirelessly to depolarize America, which has given her direct insight into how to break down barriers between people. Guzmán believes that in order to mend so much of what is broken in our nation, we need to learn how to ask better questions and listen to the answers with an open mind. In this session, Guzmán shares tools and tactics to help us engage in difficult conversations with those we might disagree with, whether they are colleagues, friends, or family members, in an effort to move beyond the discord into a place of mutual empathy and stronger connection.
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About Mónica Guzmán
Mónica Guzmán is a bridge builder, journalist, and author who lives for great conversations sparked by curious questions. Her book, “I Never Thought of it That Way: How to Have Fearlessly Curious Conversations in Dangerously Divided Times” was released by BenBella Books in March 2022. She’s director of digital and storytelling at Braver Angels, the nation’s largest cross-partisan grassroots organization working to depolarize America; host of live interview series at Crosscut; and cofounder of the award-winning Seattle newsletter The Evergrey. She 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 researched how journalists can rethink their roles to better meet the needs of a participatory public. 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. A Mexican immigrant, Latina, and dual US/Mexico citizen, she lives in Seattle with her husband and two kids and is the proud liberal daughter of conservative parents.