Speaking Outside the Echo Chamber

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Speaking Outside the Echo Chamber


Have Meaningful Conversations with People Who Disagree with You


Now is a typical time of year for people to visit family members and see old friends. But 2016 is a bit different. Many of us have noticed huge ideological gulfs between themselves and their loved ones. You may have seen friends or strangers wondering aloud how they’re going to deal with Christmas this year. Who are you concerned about talking to?

Often, the people we’ll hug this holiday are completely different than the like-minded people we surround ourselves with the rest of the year. You might find yourself in a room full of people who vehemently disagree with your most strongly held beliefs. Or you might end up at a family dinner where one frustrated, contrary person can derail a get-together by insulting your point of view. And the question becomes:

How do I talk to people who I completely disagree with?

When you know how to constructively speak outside your echo chamber, you can:

  • Respond to pointed remarks without starting pointless arguments
  • Get people to walk back hurtful or offensive statements, without becoming the “bad guy”
  • Fix conversations gone wrong
  • Build positive, long-term relationships with people who disagree with you 

When it’s happening

December 1-4: What makes these conversations so difficult? And how can we make them better?

December 5-18: Guided skill-building and real-world practice

December 19-31: “In the field” practice and group reflection

How it works

Get Outside Your Echo Chamber is conducted completely online, in the Habitry for iOS app (currently in private beta). An iOS device (iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch) is required, and Facebook is used for login. Expect to spend about 15 minutes a day working in the app in addition to your real-world practice. The skill-building portion of the program will be coached by Habitry’s Head of Coaching Success Omar Ganai, who has taught communications skills hundreds of times over.

This experience is ideology-agnostic. You may meet other participants who don’t agree with you. But you can trust that they, too, want to get better at this. Now is a great time to practice.

We’ll start by building skills that enable you to:

  1. Reduce tension and defensiveness
  2. Get people to say what they REALLY mean
  3. Encourage people to listen to your point of view

You'll learn skills that you can use not only at the family dinner table but also in tough situations with your chosen family or on social media discussions on Facebook and Twitter.

Then we’ll shift to the conversations that matter:

  1. You'll try out your new skills with tough-to-talk-to loved ones
  2. Reflect on what's working and regroup if something goes wrong
  3. Get help from trusted people while you're in the thick of it

Only 15 (of the hardest) minutes of your day

Really. This will require 15 minutes of your time a day, tops. But no one is calling it easy. It's hard in a completely different way than you might be used to. You'll have to put some skin in the game and seriously, for-real, talk to people who say things you don’t like. Then you'll reflect on what you did, what you learned, and get feedback from your coach and peers. If that sounds too hard, then you can always fall back to what you’ve been trying with people so far. Or...you could commit to 15 minutes.

“Penrose Hug” by Fabian Denter. Cover image by Ian Schneider.

“Penrose Hug” by Fabian Denter. Cover image by Ian Schneider.