Transformative Conversations Resources

It is essential to engage and be in relationship with those with whom we disagree. NETWORK’s “Transformative Conversations” guide briefly describes how to enter into discussions with those we disagree with. Additionally, a list of outside resources on this topic can be found below:

Difficult Conversations

Article: “How to Have Difficult Conversations When You Don’t Like Conflict”

In this article, Joel Garfinkle offers specific advice and tips on how to have necessary difficult conversations, especially with those who tend to shy aware from conflict.

Article: “How to Navigate Difficult Conversations”

In this article, Elizabeth Bernstein addresses the science behind difficult conversations, as well as tips on how to make difficult conversations easier.

Book: Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most by Roger Fisher, Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and Sheila Heen

This book by Fisher is based on fifteen years of research at the Harvard Negotiation Project and provides a step-by-step proven approach to having successful tough conversations.

Book: Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fischer and William L. Ury

This book by Fisher and Ury offers a concise, step-by-step proven strategy for coming to mutually accepting agreements in every sort of conflict.

Book: The Wolf Shall Dwell with the Lamb: A Spirituality for Leadership in a Multicultural Community by Eric H. F. Law

This book by Law provides an example of difficult conversations regarding multicultural situations, and the second half of the book provides effective communication activities.

Podcast: Dream. Think. Do. Podcast: “Strategies for Tough Conversations”

In this podcast, Mitch Matthews explores ways to navigate those difficult conversations in your life by providing easy-to-follow guidelines and sharing stories of how these steps have played out in his own life.

TED Talk: “Managing Difficult Conversations”

This TED talk by Fred Kofman, PhD. explains how to both remain true to yourself and, at the same time, open to your counterpart in difficult conversations.

Video: “Crucial Conversations”

This video by Joseph Grenny, bestselling author of Crucial Conversations, provides insight into how to successfully navigate crucial conversations.

Effective Communication

Article: “Effective Communication: Barriers and Strategies”

This article by the Centre for Teaching Excellence at the University of Waterloo provides an example of barriers to and strategies for active listening, accurate perception, and verbal communication.

Article: “5 Habits of Highly Effective Communicators”

In this article, Tardanico offers five essential communication practices of effective leaders, including tips on how to find your own voice and to listen with your eyes as well as ears.

Book: Everyone Communicates, Few Connect: What the Most Effective People Do Differently by John C. Maxwell

In his book, Maxwell shares the Five Principles and Five Practices to develop the crucial skill of connecting with people beyond the basic necessity of communication.

Book: The Lost Art of Listening, Second Edition: How Learning to Listen Can Improve Relationships by Michael P. Nichols

Experienced therapist Mike Nichols provides examples, easy-to-learn techniques, and practical exercises for becoming a better listener and making yourself heard and understood, even in difficult situations.

Podcast: The School of Greatness with Lewis Howes: “The Art of Listening: How to Master Relationships Through Communication”

This podcast episode by Lewis Howes focuses on the power of listening by providing steps and examples of how to improve your listening skills.

TED Talk: “How to Talk to People You Disagree With”

In this TED Ed talk, Elizabeth Lesser shares a simple way to begin real dialogue- by going to lunch with someone who doesn’t agree with you, and asking them three questions to find out what’s really in their hearts.

TED Talk: “10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation” 

In this TED talk, Celeste Headlee, who has worked as a radio host for decades, shares ten useful rules for having better conversations, including honesty, clarity, and a healthy amount of listening.

Difficult Political Conversations

Article: “Campus Political Fights Come Home for the Summer”

This article by Dana Goldstein highlights some interviews between college students and their parents who have different political ideologies or beliefs.

Article: “How Could You? 19 Questions to Ask Loved Ones Who Voted the Other Way”

This article by Michael Barbaro provides a guide for how to have that tough conversation about why a loved one voted the way they did and how to express your feelings with that vote.

Article: “How to Talk Politics at Work Without Alienating People”

This article by David Maxfield, Joseph Grenny, Candace Bertotti, and Chase McMillan provide four simple skills for sharing your political opinion based on their research of political discussions in 2016.

Book: Breaking Through Gridlock: The Power of Conversation in a Polarized World by Jason Jay and Gabriel Grant

This book by Jay and Grant use exercises and examples to help the reader become aware of the role we play in conversations getting stuck, and steps to take to begin that difficult conversation so that together we can create positive change in society.

Book: Don’t Think like an Elephant!: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate by George Lakoff

This book by Lakoff, a key advisor to the Democratic Party, outlines what happened in the 2004 election and highlights how to communicate effectively about key issues facing America, specifically regarding framing debates.

Book: The Three Languages of Politics: Talking Across the Political Dividesby Arnold Kling

This book by Arnold Kling describes how we communicate issues and our ideologies, and how language intended to persuade instead divides. King offers a way to incorporate new perspectives, nuances, and thinking into the important issues we must together share and resolve.

Guide: “Better Conversations: A Starter Guide”

This guide, created by Krista Tippett and her team at On Being, combines wisdom and practical tips on how “to create hospitable spaces for taking up the hard questions of our time.”

Guide: “Finding our Balance in the Political Landscape: Five Whys Process Guide”

This political guide by the Institute for Communal Contemplation and Dialogue details a process of “five whys”: a rational problem-solving process that focuses the “why” questions on our emotions.

Guide: “Reaching across the Red/Blue Divide”

This guide created by Essential Partners offers a step-by-step approach to inviting another person – someone whose perspectives differ from your own – into a conversation to hear their concerns and passions with new empathy and understanding.

Podcast: Nonprofits are Messy– “Difficult Conversations in Uncertain Times”

This podcast episode by Joan Garry explores how to have difficult conversations and how to find the opportunities in this challenging environment. She talks with Parisa Parsa, the Executive Director of an organization called Essential Partners, which has worked for more than 25 years to facilitate difficult conversations.

Podcast: The Run-Up:  “I Voted Clinton. You Voted Trump. Let’s Talk”

This podcast episode by Michael Barbaro explores three different relationships and hones in on the difficult conversation each relationship has regarding the 2016 presidential election.

TED Talk: “How to Have Better Political Conversations”

In this TED talk, social psychologist Rob Willer researches how moral values can bring people together and offers insights on how we can bridge the ideological divide and be more persuasive when talking politics.

Political Persuasion

Article: “The Simple Psychological Trick to Political Persuasion”

This article by Olga Khazan explores the power of moral framing in political conversations and provides examples of the use of moral framing in conversations.

Book: The Influential Mind: What the Brian Reveals About Our Power to Change Other

Author and neuroscientist Tali Sharot explores the nature of influence and shows how an attempt to change beliefs and actions is successful when it is well-matched with the core elements that govern the human brain.

Book: Thinking Points: Communicating Our American Values and Vision by George Lakoff

This book by Lakoff outlines progressive values and explains how conservatives think and use language. He emphasizes how language and moral framing can create a change in politics.

Podcast: Hidden Brains: “I’m Right, You’re Wrong.”

This podcast interviews neuroscientist Tali Sharot and explores how we process information, and why it is so hard to change our views.

Podcast:  Hidden Brains. “Is Arguing With Passion the Most Effective Way to Persuade Opponents?”

This short Hidden Brain podcast by Shankar Vedantam brings to light research that indicates that if you want to persuade people, you should frame your points using your opponents’ moral framework.

TED Talk: “How to Win a Political Debate in 5 Easy Steps”

This TED Talk by Joshua Thompson describes a scientific approach to political conversations based on theories on cognitive and social psychology. The relevant research, theories, and five step strategy is presented in the context of a recent political debate Thompson has with a friend.

Website: “Frameworks Institute”:

This website has become known for its development of Strategic Frame Analysis, an approach to communications research and practice that pays attentions to the public’s deeply held worldviews and widely held assumptions, and reframes the topic in an effective way.