How to Talk to People Whose Opinions You Loathe

From the archives of We Are Not Divided, we revisit three more stories that teach us how to listen — even when we don’t like what we hear.

What unites us? How do we overcome our divisions and differences? Can we discover ways to bridge the chasms that separate us? What tools can we turn to?

Amid the turmoil of 2020’s U.S. elections, we launched a project devoted to exploring these questions. We called it “We Are Not Divided” — a cheeky name, but cheeky with a purpose. We wanted to encourage readers to rethink and reexamine their assumptions about how divided we really need to be.

Over the next several months, we’re revisiting stories from We Are Not Divided. We’ll select articles that feel relevant to the moment, and each month’s roundup will have a loose theme. Last month we talked about changing minds. This month, we’re taking the next logical step with stories about tools that can help us better listen to each other — even when we don’t like what we hear.

I Loath Your Politics — So Let’s Be Friends

When was the last time you listened – really listened – to someone whose political opinions were different from your own? Maybe it’s been quite a while. Maybe the idea has become a little scary. Trust us, if these two can pull it off, you can, too. All you need are some handy tools to help you get started, which are helpfully linked to in this story.

Is This the Unlikeliest Friendship in America?

Then, once you’ve learned the basics of how to talk to someone you disagree with, be a fly on the wall of this conversation between America’s most perfectly mismatched friends. 

Inside the Student-Led Movement to Depolarize College

Political discussions on college campuses can get a little… tense. Luckily, there are organizations that are finding ways to turn down the heat so that everyone can be heard without being shouted down. 

Looking for more stories about bridging divides? See the whole project here.

About Us

Latest Stories

How Do You Say ‘Danger’ in Sperm Whale Clicks?

Inside the UK’s First Open-Access, Pay-As-You-Go Factory

What We’re Reading: Climate Seniors’ Victory, Surging Solar and More

Editor picks

The Beautiful Place that Stopped Big Bottled Water

The NFL Logo Embraced by the Indigenous People Who Inspired It

Churches Are Becoming Players in Making Cities More Affordable

Reasons to be Cheerful is a non-profit editorial project that is part magazine, part therapy session, part blueprint for a better world.

Related Stories

The Idea That Still Unites Us

< 1

A rowdy, opinionated nation of 330 million requires a special kind of bond.

Their Love Knows No Borders – Not Even a Closed One

< 1

Along a ditch that separates the U.S. from Canada, a very 2020 romance is taking root.

How Oakland Got Real About Equitable Urban Planning

< 1

When the city closed streets to traffic during Covid, it revealed a fix for designs that cater to white and moneyed interests.

Taiwan’s Crowdsourced Democracy Shows Us How to Fix Social Media

< 1

How hackers taught the government to embrace division-resistant politics.

My bookmarks