When it Comes to Difficult Topics, the Key is Listening

New York Times Book Review by Lisa Selin Davis

Heart of a Nation
2 min readApr 5, 2022


How to Have Fearlessly Curious Conversations in Dangerously Divided Times

Guzmán, who works in communications at the nonprofit Braver Angels, which seeks to depolarize America, sees conflicting ideas and ideals not as the end but the beginning. Her book, “I Never Thought of It That Way,” is a manual for difficult conversations between people who find themselves at opposite ends of the political spectrum, an investigation into the sources of polarization and a road map for marching out of dicey territory.

We’re sorting ourselves into tight groups, stuck in our ideological silos and “othering” people who disagree. We’re helped along by technology, but the analog world is just as divided.

Guzmán’s prescription for what ails our society is to replace certainty with curiosity, to stop seeing people as representatives of groups we can dismiss and to see them instead as individuals whose backgrounds inform their beliefs. She writes, “If there’s one question I want to persuade you to ask more often, it’s ‘What am I missing?’”

Then, Guzmán says, it becomes possible to have what she calls INTOIT moments (for “I Never Thought of It That Way”), in which we see the person behind the politics.

Guzmán’s lesson seems to be that I should give up the need to be right and focus on the need to stay connected.

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