How do I start the conversation?

Reaching out can be scary when you don't know what response you will get, but remember, the friend or family member you are contacting cares for you (and you for them).  More often than not, you'll get a positive (perhaps surprising) response.

Do

  • Make it clear that their relationship is important to you
  • Be genuine and open 
  • Be clear that your objective is to understand, not debate different views
  • Find common ground (i.e. fatigue of negative rhetoric)
  • Suggest a conversation using Facetime, Skype or other video chat
  • Let them know about Burst! and point them to the Tips for Constructive Conversations

Don't

  • Insult or belittle their views
  • Demand a call – leave it up to them to decide whether or not to talk

Sample note:

Hi Joan,

You've seen through my Facebook posts that I've been pretty upset by this election season and specifically the divisive rhetoric coming from both sides. I've really appreciated your likes and comments on my posts. 

Ultimately, I think the problem is that we've stopped talking to one another. We've avoided conversations with friends and family we don't agree with and the result has been diminished understanding and empathy for one another.

I'm as guilty as anyone and want to reverse this!

As a first step, I'd like to have a conversation with you. I *think* we may differ on our political views and I'd like to learn about what issues that are most important to you and why. I'd also like to give you the opportunity to ask me the same. My goal is to listen and understand, not debate or convince one another. 

If you are willing, I commit to making this a productive conversation. There are some great tips/guidelines on the Burst! website that may be useful to review. (Burst! is a site that encourages people of all political persuasions to reach out and talk to one another in order to unite our country). If it is okay with you, I'd also like to post what I learn from our conversation on the Burst! Facebook group. I won't name you by name, but say I spoke with my family member (or whatever feels comfortable to you).

Please let me know if you are willing to chat and we can set up at time to video conference. I'd really like that.

Love, Jim