The University of Arkansas at Little Rock Department of Applied Communication and Braver Angels of Central Arkansas will hold a free online workshop to teach critical skills that will help people hold conversations that cross the political divide.
The workshop, which is also sponsored by the Central Arkansas Library System, will be held from 6-8 p.m. Monday, Sept. 14. The “Skills for Bridging the Divide” workshop will teach participants how to navigate discussions with empathy and openness while avoiding demonization and contempt. These skills will help people have more respectful conversations that clarify differences, search for common ground, and affirm the importance of the relationship.
Prior to the event, those registered can participate in a 40-minute online training. After a brief review of these skills at the online workshop, participants will have the opportunity to pair with a person with a similar political affiliation to practice their conversation skills in difficult political conversations.
“Recent polls show that a majority of Americans feel our country is more divided than ever, and increasingly view members of the opposite political party as not just wrong—but bad people,” said Dr. April Chatham-Carpenter, chair of the Department of Applied Communication. “At the same time, Americans are increasingly divided into bubbles and echo chambers with limited exposure to ‘the other side,’ consuming news that confirms their opinions and stereotypes.”
Launched in 2016, Braver Angels is a bipartisan citizen’s movement that works to help bridge the political divide between “reds” and “blues” in our nation. By bringing red and blue Americans together in a working alliance, Braver Angels are building new ways to talk to one another, participate together in public life, and influence the direction of the nation.
“In today’s polarized environment, political conversations often turn angry and counterproductive,” said Glen White, state coordinator of Braver Angels Arkansas. “Braver Angels helps people listen and understand without arguing, to build trust, clarify disagreements, and find common ground based on common values and humanity.”