Thanks for requesting your free guide to listening politics.

Your guide is an excerpt from the book Yes, You Can Talk Politics.

Written by Crossing Party Lines Co-Founder, Lisa Swallow, this workbook teaches communications skills for a healthy democracy.  It covers such topics as:

  • Your Brain on Politics
  • How to talk so others will listen
  • How to listen so others will share
  • Moral Foundations in Political Conversations
  • A “risk-free” approach to talking politics in the real world
  • A deeper look at why we disagree and why disagreeing is okay
This workbook is, absolutely, the roadmap for respectful, informative discussion between people of opposing political views. No longer fear Thanksgiving or any other gathering. Author Lisa K. Swallow, Founder and Executive Director of Crossing Party Lines (whose organization has been helping thousands of members for 4 years speak up on matters important to them as well improve their listening skills), has organized her time-tested tips and tools into six easy-to-read sections, chock-full of clear explanations, easy-to-grasp examples, and thoughtful activities. Whether you are someone who tries to win or run away from a political argument, Yes You Can Talk Politics is the perfect recipe for substantive, respectful political discourse with just about anyone.
Johanna K. McCormick
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    The Two Types of Depolarization

    Depolarization — the work of reducing toxic polarization — is best understood in terms of the two types of polarization that shape our interactions and perceptions in today’s politically charged climate:

    1. Affective Polarization

    Affective polarization revolves around emotions and feelings. It refers to the emotional divide between individuals or groups with differing political views. It’s about how people feel about others who hold opposing ideologies.

    • Us vs. Them: In affective polarization, people tend to see those on the other side of the political spectrum as part of an “us vs. them” mentality. Emotions like anger, fear, and distrust often come into play.
    • Emotional Reactions: When encountering someone with opposing views, affectively polarized individuals may experience heightened emotions. They might feel threatened, defensive, or even hostile.
    • Echo Chambers: Social media and personalized news feeds can exacerbate affective polarization by reinforcing existing beliefs and isolating individuals from diverse perspectives.

    2. Cognitive Polarization

    Cognitive polarization focuses on thought processes and cognitive biases. It pertains to how people think about the views of others.

    • Discounting Opposing Views: Cognitive polarization leads to a tendency to discount opposing viewpoints without critically evaluating them. People may jump to conclusions, assuming that differing opinions lack validity or logical soundness.
    • Us vs. Them (Again): Just as in affective polarization, cognitive polarization reinforces the “us vs. them” mindset. It hinders open-mindedness and intellectual curiosity.
    • Intellectual Echo Chambers: Cognitive polarization occurs when people surround themselves with like-minded sources, reinforcing their preconceptions and avoiding exposure to alternative perspectives.

    The Interplay Between Affective and Cognitive Polarization

    Affective and cognitive polarization often feed into each other. Emotional reactions (affective) influence how we process information (cognitive), and vice versa.

    Breaking the Cycle: CPL recognizes that depolarization  requires us to address both affective and cognitive aspects. Encouraging empathy and  active listening is not enough.  We must also teach critical thinking and intellectual humility if we are to truly bridge the gap.

    About Bridging

    Bridging refers to the intentional effort to reduce toxic polarization by fostering understanding, empathy, and communication between individuals or groups with differing political views. It aims to build connections and discover our shared humanity, ultimately bridging the gaps that divides people along ideological lines.