In order to communicate effectively and maintain harmony, it’s vital to see things from the point of view of others, especially when it comes to competing points of view. Monica Guzman is an expert in exactly that.
In this episode, I Never Thought of It That Way (Episode 92), we linked up with Guzman as she focuses on the most important ingredients for bringing people together–trust, receptiveness, and curiosity.
Here are the key ideas we took away from this episode:
- Guzman was inspired to write her book due to her experiences in her professional and personal lives. As a journalist, she noticed traditional storytelling seemed to exacerbate and worsen existing issues. She also felt the friction of being in a politically divided family. As a result, she created a book that allows readers to better navigate conflict resolution in divisive times.
- Guzman advises us to explore how open we are to the ideas of others in order to cease judging as we listen. It’s important that we don’t harbor condescending thoughts of others as less intelligent or wounded. Curiosity can’t thrive when condescension is present. Whomever you're communicating with can observe if you’re being disingenuous and will reflect the same energy, thus halting an effective dialogue.
- We need to get curious about one another which can be easier said than done! Fear and certainty are our biggest obstacles because we feel more threatened by those who are different and if we feel certain about what we know, we don’t question it. Guzman encourages us to break these fears and instead find our knowledge gaps, fill them in by putting ourselves in new spaces, and reject easy answers to keep the questions flowing.
How does this translate to the classroom?:
- Students and teachers seem to be more easily triggered than they were in the past. Guzman suggests that those in leadership roles set a harmonious tone, so that everyone else can model their good example. For example, a teacher could mitigate a conflict by mentioning a time they felt triggered by someone but were still able to find a resolution or common ground with that individual. Teachers can also guide students to approach those with differing opinions with genuine curiosity instead a pre-formed opinion about what the other person thinks or feels.
- Guzman wants us to imagine that our opinions are like phone apps in edit mode; they wiggle around waiting to be changed. Two people can make the most of their conversation by entering it in a way in which their apps could be edited. When we model receptiveness and humility, it’s contagious. Wiggle mode should be the standard for not only the classroom but the community at large.
It is common for us to be easily hurt by opposing views and, as a result, our first reaction is often to end relationships with those who have different opinions, including friends and family. However, Guzman asks that we challenge ourselves to engage with others and maintain an open dialogue. By doing so, we can avoid becoming polarized and gradually bridge the divide between different viewpoints.