The science that proves how you can have political debates but still get along and get things done
low-angle photo of U.S. flag placed on gray pole

Perhaps the worst part about 2020 isn't that it's thrown so much at us. It's that we've taken all the shit we've had to wade through and started flinging it at each other. The election. Racial justice. COVID. Literally small pieces of fabric for your face. And it's tearing us apart. A University of Nebraska-Lincoln survey of 800 Americans found that one in five had a friendship that was "damaged" because of a political argument.

The unfortunate thing about it all is that we have more in common than we think we do. We just suck at discussing it. According to More in Common, a group that works to address underlying drivers of polarization, Americans believe that more than half the country holds extreme views, but it's actually closer to 30%. The problem is that we've been misunderstanding each other, not that our views are wildly dissimilar.

While some people advocate just not talking to their peers with different views, the solution isn't to cut someone out of your life, or a refusal to engage with the someone of the opposite party. The solution is more conversation. But legit conversation, not the kind of "conversation" where two people just point out all the different ways the other person is wrong.


A recent study published in the Harvard Business Review proposes a better way for discussing disagreements. Researchers asked thousands of people to write responses to political statements with which they disagreed. Then, thousands of other people evaluates those statements based off of how receptive the writer seemed. The researchers were able to find four strategies which would help increase receptiveness in conversation.

The strategies are simple, but effective. The study advises people to "acknowledge the other person's perspective," "hedge your claims, "phrase your arguments in positive terms," and "point to areas of agreement, even if small or obvious."

It turns out, listening to other people's ideas makes them more receptive to yours. Meaning, if you want to change someone else's mind, it's better listen to what's on their mind. "When we appear receptive to listening to and respecting others' opposing positions, they find our arguments to be more persuasive," Francesca Gino, who worked on the study, wrote in the Harvard Business Review. "In addition, receptive language is contagious: It makes those with whom we disagree more receptive in return. People also like others more and are more interested in partnering with them when they seem receptive."

The takeaway from the study is hopeful. As deep as our scars seem right now, they can one day fade away – as long as we learn to listen. "[E]ven when discussing the most difficult topics, it is possible for people with polar-opposite points of view to have a constructive conversation," Gino wrote in the Harvard Business Review.

And there's a strong indication that people want to heal. As partisan as this past election was, a Pew Research poll conducted before the election found the vast majority of supporters of both candidates (86% of Trump supporters and 89% of Biden supporters) wanted their favored candidate to focus on the needs of all Americans, "even if it means disappointing some of his supporters."

The healing process doesn't sit only in the president's hands. It's up to us to be better in our daily lives. And that starts with communication.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."

A young boy tried to grab the Pope's skull cap

A boy of about 10-years-old with a mental disability stole the show at Pope Francis' weekly general audience on Wednesday at the Vatican auditorium. In front of an audience of thousands the boy walked past security and onto the stage while priests delivered prayers and introductory speeches.

The boy, later identified as Paolo, Jr., greeted the pope by shaking his hand and when it was clear that he had no intention of leaving, the pontiff asked Monsignor Leonardo Sapienza, the head of protocol, to let the boy borrow his chair.

The boy's activity on the stage was clearly a breach of Vatican protocol but Pope Francis didn't seem to be bothered one bit. He looked at the child with a sense of joy and wasn't even disturbed when he repeatedly motioned that he wanted to remove his skull cap.

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