The Washington Post

How to reconcile


In their informativ­e and helpful Jan. 3 op-ed, “Empathy can be found, even in divided times,” Jamil Zaki, Robb Willer, Jan Gerrit Voelkel and Luiza Santos wrote about the difference between “emotional empathy,” the sharing of other people’s feelings and perspectiv­es, and “cognitive empathy,” trying to understand the other’s perspectiv­e. The authors also wrote about “deep canvassing” — asking about the feelings and values of people in opposing political positions other than your own. President-elect Joe Biden has called for Americans to see each other again and to listen to each other again. I hear that message as one encouragin­g America to reconcile.

Here are some thoughts on how to reconcile: Make the first move, let people know that you want to hear their opinions; listen with active listening skills; avoid saying the word “but,” which negates the other’s statement; seek first to understand the other’s position before explaining yours; reframe criticisms into difference­s of opinion; stay neutral; begin a discussion with an agreement instead of an argument.

Timothy J. Johnson, Columbia

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