Exit the Echo Chamber: Day 4 - The Letter or Email

Today's challenge is to send a note or email to someone you've disagreed with politically. We think this is important because so much of our communication takes place on social media. If we can't communicate with each other in writing, we lose a lot of opportunities to enhance the dialogue. In addition to all of our tips from yesterday, here are a few ideas for meaningfully corresponding in writing about politics: 

Lead and end with vigorous agreement.

Where you can find some common ground, emphasize it--even if that common ground isn't political. In writing, it's especially important to remind people you're human. Something as simple as, "you know I love you" or "we've been able to talk about hard things since high school" can set the tone for a more productive conversation. 

Avoid "but." 

Sarah recently talked about the limitations of "but" on the podcast. When you say "but," it often negates everything that preceded it. So, when you're launching into political discussions, avoid it. Instead of "you know I love you but we disagree about the TPP" try "You know I love you. I want to better understand why we seem to disagree about the TPP." 


Concede the weaknesses of your position. 

If you want to be credible, recognize where your position falls apart (because, let's be real--all positions fall apart somewhere). Recognize where you're ideologically inconsistent. Admit where your life experience is influencing you. Doing these things keeps the conversation flowing and reminds everyone that life isn't simple, and disagreement is healthy. Instead of, "obviously we should make marijuana legal and tax it at a high rate" try, "I know it's hypocritical of me because I usually don't like government trying to influence individual choices, but I feel like there's a real opportunity to tax marijuana at a high rate and generate some additional revenue for our schools. That's a tradeoff I'm willing to make." 

Be your own talking point. 

The best way to get someone to think about an issue in a new way is to talk about it in a new way. Your right-leaning friends don't want to hear from Keith Olbermann, and your left-leaning friends don't want to hear from Sean Hannity. But they do want to hear from you. Use your own words. Write in short sentences, and be precise. Try to say what you mean. Instead of, "Trump is not a normal president" try "I'm struggling with the fact that Trump doesn't have political experience and has so many business interests. I worry that this will impact his ability to objectively see situations." 

Happy writing! Let us know if we can help!