Bridging divides with questions

๐Ÿ’Œ Newsletter

2 sets of questions for your next heated political exchange

I've been thinking about political polarization all around us.

When debating this, I find there are 2 camps on how to deal with polarization (yes, I am polarizing here...):

  • Those who are more principled and want to give no room to what they consider clearly wrong, destructive, immoral views of the other side.
  • Those who are more understanding & pragmatic, seeking common ground.

What the 2 camps often have in common: they have recipes/answers ready for how to overcome polarization, for how they would approach the other side, what they would tell them etc.

But a question can be worth more than 1000 words.

Asking a question is a middle-ground, it's seeking to understand while not necessarily giving up on your principles.

I've been struck by how versatile good questions are: they can help us be more creative, make better decisions, connect more deeply and be better leaders.

And they can help us bridge political divides - in two ways:

1) By helping us not add oil to the fire of polarization. Before criticising someone, ask yourself:

  • What's motivating this urge to criticise?
  • How am I guilty of the thing I'm criticising?
  • How would I react if someone said something similar to me?
  • What positive results do I hope will come of this?
  • Am I deriving pleasure from criticising?

2) Getting closer to the other side, or at least creating understanding on both sides. Ask someone on the other side of the divide:

  • What is it in your position that gives you pause?
  • What is it in my position that interests or attracts you?
  • On a scale of 1 - 10, how would you rate my position? And your own?
  • If you didn't rate mine at 1 and yours at 10, why not?
  • Can we imagine a position that might at least partly satisfy both of us?

These are beautiful questions, and they come from a beautiful book called "The Book of Beautiful Questions" ๐Ÿ˜… by questionologist Warren Berger.

Why not give it a try the next time?

p.s. ๐Ÿ‘‡ below, find the latest podcast, what I'm currently reading/listening to and my favourite quote this week

๐Ÿ“š What I read & listen to

Some good reasons why leisure > work by Bertrand Russell in this article from 1932. He argues for a 4h-day. Interesting in the context of productivty gains through Artificial Intelligence.

In Praise of Idleness, by Bertrand Russell

๐Ÿ–‹๏ธ My favourite quote

"I think that there is far too much work done in the world, that immense harm is caused by the belief that work is virtuous, and that what needs to be preached in modern industrial countries is quite different from what always has been preached." - Bertrand Russell

๐ŸŽ™๏ธ My latest podcast

I'm pausing the podcast over the summer, but have some great new conversations already that I'll share in September, e.g. with a Member of the German Bundestag and a leadership development expert from the US.

The last episode:

Clara Fรถller - Being president of a 4,000-members
About my guest Clara Foeller is the President of the Young European Federalists in Germany, a political youth organization promoting the strengthening and democratization of the EU towards a European federation. Clara shares the ups & downs of being at the helm of a large NGO, whatโ€™s so energizingโ€ฆ