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Understanding and Engaging in Challenging Conversations

While challenging conversations can be hard, they are not impossible, and many in this field have been working to better understand conflict and how to actually have challenging conversations. The article written by Yasmeen Wafai, called “Why Difficult Conversations Can Actually Be a Good Thing” offers several groups working to understand this phenomenon and mentions the work of NCDD member organization National Issues Forums Institute and The Difficult Conversations Lab founded by Peter Coleman. Below you can read the NIFI’s blog post with excerpts of the article (which can be found here) and we encourage you to read the original article here.


Read the Article in “YES! Magazine” – “Why Difficult Conversations Can Actually Be a Good Thing” by Yasmeen Wafai

A July 10, 2019 article in YES! Magazine, by Yasmeen Wafai, describes several examples of methods to help people talk productively about difficult public issues, including The Difficult Conversations Lab founded by Peter Coleman, and the National Issues Forums.

The following are excerpts from the article:

The Difficult Conversations Lab was founded in the early 2000s by Peter Coleman, a professor of psychology and education at Columbia University. He said the lab was created to study deeply rooted, complicated, and hard-to-solve conflicts. He wanted to understand why conflicts in families, communities, and in the international arena get stuck in a destructive pattern…

Contrary to expectation, these conversations do not always go sour and are sometimes constructive, Coleman said. It is not that participants are solving the issues themselves, but they are creating the space to learn something about themselves, the issue, and other viewpoints…

However, Coleman cautions that discussing deeply polarizing issues can backfire. Instead, he suggests finding a group or organization like the National Issues Forums, which are designed to bring people together in a safe space to have wide-ranging, moderated discussions….

Click here to read the full article.

You can find this announcement on the National Issues Forums Institute blog at www.nifi.org/en/read-article-yes-magazine-why-difficult-conversations-can-actually-be-good-thing-yasmeen-wafai.

Keiva Hummel
Keiva Hummel serves as NCDD’s Communications Coordinator. She graduated cum laude from San Francisco State University with a B.A. in Communication Studies, Minor in Global Peace, Human Rights and Justice Studies, and a Certificate in Conflict Resolution Studies.

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