You’ve already met one of our many dedicated volunteers Michael Taggart back in March, when he was featured in an interview about his volunteer experience. We were delighted when Michael submitted a new Conversation Guide called “More Curious, Less Furious.” Our politically diverse team reviewed it, and now we are pleased to share it. Here it is.
I got the chance to interview Michael for this weekly email. My first question was how the new Guide came about:
The short answer is that being “ More Curious and Less Furious” has become my personal intention and strategy for dealing with toxic polarization and division. Like many people, I have been concerned about the growing division in our country and the contempt held for fellow citizens who are seen as evil for daring to hold a different point of view. We seem to forget that if we don’t take time to be curious and listen, we will never find out what’s missing to solve complex problems of our day. After one especially polarized conversation that ended in comments along the lines of “That’s crazy” and “Why would anyone think that?” I thought to myself: “Why don’t you just ask? Why can’t you be more curious and less furious? I believe that most people understand at some level that they must expose themselves to the ideas of others with a different perspective.
I am a fan of the Living Room Conversations format because it enables small groups to explore a topic in a way that everyone is heard and respected. As both a host and participant in a Living Room Conversation, I have met many interesting people and benefited from insights gained through listening to experiences and perspectives different than my own.
I believe becoming more curious (and less furious) can be an antidote to toxic polarization. It is a choice we all can make. Actions we can take include planning, hosting, or participating in a Living Room Conversation; and developing a Conversation Guide on a topic of interest as I have done.
Of course, I was curious to know more! So I asked Michael: What role does curiosity play in your life?
Talking with people I have never met before has been a regular practice for me for a long time. I guess it has been a hobby that I never thought of as such. Curiosity about others and hearing their stories has always been an adventure with unexpected moments of joy, reflection, insight, and, most of all, connection. When I listen to a person with an opinion or view different from mine, I am looking for the unmet universal needs that may be a driver of the opinion and emotion received from the other person. We all share the same universal needs. These include the need to be heard, respected, loved, safe, free, and economically secure, among others. Discovering that universal need creates connection by reminding us of our shared humanity and that we are one.
Please join us for the inaugural Living Room Conversation using the new “More Curious, Less Furious” Guide by clicking here to sign up.