Conversations about divisive issues can sometimes be emotional, pick-a-side and fight-it-out discussions that leave us feeling worse about the people we disagree with, and sometimes worse about ourselves. But there is a way to talk that feels open, honest and impartial, where you can actually be heard and learn about the people with whom you disagree.
Respectful Conversations are designed not to change minds, but soften hearts.
Experience this for yourself. Congregation and other groups through Minnesota have chosen to be sources of living water, cooling the heat of intense disagreements through the Respectful Conversations Project.
Respectful Conversations are gaining steam. Since 2012, over 2,000 Minnesotans have participated in over 80 Respectful Conversation on a variety of divisive topics including:
- The amendment defining marriage
- Guns in Minnesota
- Differences between urban and rural government leaders
- Racial implications of religious art
- Religious/non-religious dialogue
- Muslims and Christians on global security
- Jews and Protestants on Israel/Palestine
- Divisive internal organizational issues
Our results speak for themselves: On average, 70% of participants report that "I have a stronger sense of empathy for those whose viewpoint is different from my own." Over 95% agree that they felt listened to, that we have succeeded in providing a conversation different than a polarizing debate, and that they believe their process is useful in other settings.
These conversations also pay off in lasting dividends: months later, people report a greater awareness of their own listening attitudes, more curiosity about those they would previously have considered opponents, and even transformed family relationships.
Find out how people in your community can talk about their differences in a way that stitches us together rather than tearing us apart.
There is no current statewide topic of conversation. If you would like to participate in a Respectful Conversation or hold a conversation for your own community, see the registration link. To register, click here.
We are also regularly in partnership with new host congregations designing custom conversations tailored for topics of local relevance.
Interested in becoming a table facilitator? Find out more.
Congregations and other organizations interested in hosting a conversation should contact Jerad Morey, Senior Program Manager, at (612) 230-3211 or firstname.lastname@example.org.