Reconcilable Differences: Finding the Courage to Connect With Those Who Don’t Think the Way You Do

06 November 2016

We are creating a new blog dedicated to the challenge of repairing the divides in our country, families, and friendships. This election has broken the bowl of democracy that has held us together for over 200 years. Democracy means the connection of diverse voices.

We dare you to become “We the People.”

If you find yourself feeling discouraged and disheartened, you are not alone. Too many of us are avoiding talking about what really matters with our relatives, neighbors, and friends. Wanting to avoid conflict with those who are voting for the “other side,” we just safetalk about sports, movies, and the weather and slowly withdraw our respect from one another and ourselves. The two of us don’t believe it is going to be the government that puts the bowl back together again. We believe it will be each of us. We believe there is something more you can do than vote.

Who Are We and Why Are We Sending You This Challenge Now?

For decades, the two of us have been deeply engaged in the exploration of how people find the courage to connect with those who think differently with individuals and global senior leadership teams. Twenty years ago, Dawna was one of the co-creators of the viral revolution “Random Acts of Kindness,” which was a call to balance the random acts of violence that were spreading around the world at that time. She and Angie think as differently as any two people, yet they have co-authored two books: Collaborative Intelligence: Thinking With Those Who Think Differently, and Reconcilable Differences: Finding the Courage To Connect with Those Who Think Differently, to be published by Random House in 2018.

But we don’t want to wait until 2018. The dynamics of this election have created a fragmentation between us all that Washington cannot mend. If each of us can’t do it within our own circles of significant others, how can they?

What is the Art of Repairing Ruptures?

In a Japan there exists a tradition, Kintsugi, which is the art of creating beauty in the broken places by mending the cracks with gold. Rather than disguising the breakage, Kintsugi restores the broken item, incorporating the damage into its beauty and thus increasing the value.

You can create this gold from two things: curiosity—opening your mind to what can be possible–and courage, allowing your heart to risk reaching out to connect with someone who thinks differently than you do (perhaps someone who voted on the “other side”).

How Can “You” Dare to Become “We?”

Here are four golden questions to ask of someone who thinks differently:

1. “Here’s how our connection is specifically important to me….How is it important to you?”

2. “What’s the most important thing to you that has surfaced in the issues this election has raised?”

3. “Are you open to hearing what’s the most important issue to me?”

4. “How do you suggest we stay connected even though we hold different opinions?”


This may not change the outcome of the election, but it will change how we as family members, friends, and communities listen to one another so we can move forward with respect.

As you learn how to do this, we all will learn.

Share the effects of your courageous conversations on the comment feed below. Please invite others to join this conversation.

–Dawna and Angie

This marks the launch of our new weekly blog: Reconcilable Differences. It is our intention to write about the ways we are collectively finding the courage to connect with those who don’t think the way we do.