Resources on conversations in difficult times

Photo: anjuli_ayer, Flickr

Photo: anjuli_ayer, Flickr

One of the most divisive presidential elections in recent memory is over, and the holiday season is about to begin. If you’re feeling apprehensive about dinnertime conversations with friends or family, you’re not alone.

We’ve compiled a list of resources to help, part of a new, occasional series on issues related to politics and the election. In a public statement released last week, MIT Libraries Director Chris Bourg underlined the commitment of the Libraries to diversity, inclusion, equity, social justice, and the pursuit of knowledge, and specifically called out our role related to information literacy, “to provide not only credible sources of information to our communities, but also the expertise, services, collections, tools, and spaces that facilitate and promote the critical assessment of information.”

In that spirit, you’ll find below a short list of new articles, blog posts, and books on preparing for difficult conversations with those who hold opposing viewpoints. We hope these will help you feel better equipped to have them when they arise. Stay tuned for resources on self-care.

And if you’re around tomorrow, the day before Thanksgiving, feel free to stop by one of the libraries for cider and apple pie bars—you are welcome here.

Resources on conversations in difficult times

Highly pragmatic resource with concrete responses organized by situation, ranging from in-laws joking about race, to stubborn relatives, to your own bias, from the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Article from Vox about research that shows “it’s at least possible to nudge our political opponents to consider ideas they’d normally reject outright.” Plus: a post-election follow-up story about research on reducing prejudice.

In the New York Times, advice from social science researchers and philosophers on how to convey that you care about the issues and aren’t just aiming to prove that you’re right.

In this book, social psychologist Heidi Grant Halvorson asks, “Have you ever felt you’re not getting through to the person you’re talking to, or not coming across the way you intend?”

A list of “dos and don’tsfrom Women Against Negative Talk, with suggestions on how to have conversations with people who feel differently from you.

In this book, Harvard psychologist Amy Cuddy describes, among other things, the power of listening in an argument. See a Business Insider story about this here.

Toolkit from Showing Up for Racial Justice that includes discussion guide “to help support white folks in having tough conversations with other white folks,” and a Holiday Hotline service that will send you talking points over text message.

From San Francisco Weekly, pointers for talking to people with different political views, at a “a time when we all need compassionate conversation the most.”