Understanding each other

I want to organize a series of conversations. Dialogs, even. Two opposing viewpoints, me in the middle.

The idea is to let one party speak, while the other two listen and genuinely try to understand where the other person is coming from, what their fears are, their desires, their values, and their thinking. The goal is not to figure out where they're right or wrong, but only to fully understand their point of view, with an open and curious mind and an open, caring heart. Then we turn to the other party and do our best to truly understand where they're coming from.

I have not come across a forum that does this, but I think it's necessary.

Some thoughts about ground rules:

  1. It's okay to say "I don't know, but I feel it strongly". That might not be the final answer, but it's more helpful than constructing a bogus argument.
  2. It's okay to change your mind. You don't have to, but we're certainly not going to ridicule you for it.
  3. Feel free to throw around labels, but know that we will ignore them. They carry no weight in this forum. Calling someone names doesn't help us understand, so we'll need to ask you to dig deeper and tell us what exactly that means in plain English, and why it matters. We could ban labels, altogether, but people use them anyway, and I want to explore them more deeply.
  4. We will read defensiveness as an indication that you know you're wrong about something, but you don't know what exactly, or you're not yet willing to admit it. That's okay. It's human to get defensive, but it closes down the dialog, and that doesn't help us understand each other. We're not out to "gotcha" anyone, we're here to genuinely understand each other.
  5. We start with the assumption that we're all genuine, caring human beings that love our families and want what's best for the nation. Why else would anyone even bother to get involved in this messy world of politics, amirite?


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