Depolarized Communication

How to talk to people you really disagree with.
Geotatah, Iconfinder, edited by Samuel Whitcomb

Across Divides consists of multiple exercises and skill-building activities that seek to empower individuals to seek out, engage with and enter into dialogue with people whose views (radically) differ from their own. In the process we generate a deeper understanding of polarization and cut across cultural contexts to build on the core of polarized discussions - the questions of identity, belonging, discrimination, globalization, and power inequalities.

The exercise "The Power of Definition" provided below is an exercise in depolarizing conversations that are centered around polarizing topics. Its structure and downloadable pdf are given below:

During the first part of this exercise the participants are asked to think of a word that is polarizing and think of 3 different definitions (one positive, one negative, and one neutral).

OBJECTIVES
To deconstruct and redefine certain core terms
To explore thinking outside of the box of assumed shared meaning
To foster creativity and intellectual emancipation
TIME
15 minutes
MATERIALS NEEDED
Pieces of paper (one blank sheet per participant)
Markers & Pens
 

During this part of the exercise the participants present their ideas.

OBJECTIVES
To get participants engaged and entertained
To evoke and get participants attuned to their emotional response
To elicit confusion, surprise, cognitive dissonance
TIME
20 minutes
MATERIALS NEEDED
Participants' filled out definition sheets

This is the final part of the exercise that allows reflection of what just happened pointing out that often our definitions of topics are not shared and are often perceived in a different way than we perceive them.

OBJECTIVES
To evoke (self-) reflection
To foster critical thinking
To build (situational) awareness and intentive personal agency
TIME
10 minutes
MATERIALS NEEDED N/A

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