We’ve all been there. Some of us even make rules around it. “No politics at the dinner table,” right?
In situations where continuity, happiness and comfort sit at the top of the priority list, difficult conversations around difficult topics don’t exactly lure people to the table. Many people these days have disengaged to avoid arguments.
Avoidance, though, has led to apathy and a lessened ability to navigate disagreement. We point fingers, name call and dismiss those with views different from our own.
What if instead of avoiding those touchy subjects, we worked through them. We can practice civility in discourse, conduct facilitated discussions around issues on which many will disagree. Then, maybe, we’ll actually understand each other rather than jump to judgment.
In an effort to make that all possible, the Center for a Vital Community hosted a two-day workshop earlier this year to train community members. Attendees learned the tactics and reasoning behind how to facilitate tough interactions.
The key, it often turns out, is to listen for understanding, rather than agreement. It’s silly to think you’ll get along with or agree with everybody. But we can work better together if we don’t dismiss others’ points of view so quickly.
As a followup to the workshop, the CVC has invited members of the community to practice those skills and, if you weren’t able to attend the event in February, maybe learn new skills.
What is your story? How does that story shape how individuals define our community? The CVC wants to hear from you.
These conversations will help us all practice civil discourse while simultaneously forming our path as we work to shape a better future.
You can RSVP to the CVC at (307) 675-0831 or just show up to one of the three sessions planned for next week. The first will take place April 25 from 1:30-4 p.m. at the Sheridan College Thorne-Rider Center Room 008; the second session is planned for April 26 from 5:30-8 p.m. in SC Whitney Room 202; and the third is set for April 28 from 9:30 a.m. to noon at the SC Broadway Center, located at 245 Broadway St.
I hope you will attend. The more community members who participate, the more we’ll be on the same page with the same understanding of civil discourse — even as we tackle difficult, polarizing hurdles in the future.