Imagine the last person you talked to that was condescending or arrogant. How did they make you feel? Could you listen to their viewpoints or did you naturally want to argue back? For most of us, getting past this wall of disrespect is difficult or almost impossible. So, what should you do when discussing emotionally charged topics with an opposing perspective? In last year’s 2017 TEDx event, Nick Exline showed us how to build bridges when it comes to talking about the highly polarizing topic of climate change. Whoa! How is that even possible?


Nick Exline speaking at last year's event

Nick Exline speaking at last year's event

First and foremost, it’s about respecting each other’s cultural beliefs. That means your presentation needs to vary depending on the audience. No matter your personal or political views, we must accept that everyone is good at heart. We need to understand each other’s values and principals and talk about topics that they feel are important. Your approach must be rooted in empathy and a genuine desire to understand.

Take a Breath and Listen

So, the next time you’re discussing a divisive subject, step back for a moment and take a deep breath. Remove any arrogant tone and instead listen. Learn what the other person finds important and build bridges. Look for things that you both can agree on and start there.