The divisive nature of partisan politics has seeped into almost every
aspect of our society. Political views and affiliations often determine
who we associate with, even who we worship with. There’s a deep desire
in our church for tools that can help us talk productively to people we
disagree with politically. It might be co-workers, family members or
even church members.
This year, the Peace and Justice Support
Network will begin to work with Better Angels.
Better Angles is a movement to reduce political polarization in the United
States by bringing liberals and conservatives together to understand
each other beyond stereotypes, forming red/blue community alliances,
teaching practical skills for communicating across political
differences, and making a strong public argument for depolarization.
Check out these helpful skills and tools from Better Angels.
5 Basic Skills
Listen to understand rather than to prepare your rebuttal. If you
couldn’t accurately summarize what the other person just said, you
2. Be curious (“Why do you see it this way?”) rather than argumentative (“How could you possibly see it this way?”)
3. Make sure you understand the other’s view before you disagree with it. (“Let me see if I understand what you are saying….”)
Use I-statements (“This is how I see it”) more often than
truth-statements (“This is how it is.”) If you are citing facts, give
your source rather than just saying it’s true.
characterizing the other side’s position in your own terms rather than
theirs. (“Your side sees immigration as a threat to the country.” “Your
side is for open borders.”)
3 Conversation skills
Paraphrasing: Make sure you understand and the other person feels
heard. Listen for a “Yes, that’s what I’m saying”, but be ready to be
2. Ask real and honest questions of understanding, vs. loaded “gotcha” questions. (This is hard to do.)
3. Listening for underlying values and aspirations, and acknowledging them.
Better Angels summary (PDF)
Listening skills (PDF)
Depolarizing within—assessment (PDF)