The Right Way to Talk across Divides - Deepstash
Constructive engagement

Constructive engagement involves cultivating goodwill between the parties involved.


Fishbowl discussions

This exercise involves members of one party sitting in a circle with the other group sitting around them. The outside group listens quietly while the inside group answers a set of questions.

After each side answered and listened, the moderator brings them together for conversations about what everyone learned. Data suggests that despite strong views, participants change their attitude toward one another for the better.


We regularly find ourselves engaging with people whose core beliefs and values differ from our own. We might want to convince them to adopt our point of view, but this can lead to unproductive conflict.

However, people who disagree passionately can be easily trained to have productive interactions.


It involves using language that signals real interest in the other person's views.

  • When people appear receptive, others find their argument more persuasive.
  • Receptive language is also contagious as the other person will be more responsive in turn.
  • People like others more when they seem receptive.

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    Signs of receptiveness:

    • Acknowledgment: "I understand that..." or "I believe you're saying..."
    • Hedging: It is indicating some uncertainty about the claim you want to make. "Going forward with this decision might..." is better than "Going forward with this decision will undoubtedly..."
    • Positive terms: "It is helpful..." works better than "We should not..."
    • Words such as "because" and "therefore" can set an argumentative or condescending tone.

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