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Beyond Your Bubble: How to Connect Across the Political Divide, Skills and Strategies for Conversations That Work

Beyond Your Bubble: How to Connect Across the Political Divide, Skills and Strategies for Conversations That Work

by Tania Israel
Beyond Your Bubble: How to Connect Across the Political Divide, Skills and Strategies for Conversations That Work

Beyond Your Bubble: How to Connect Across the Political Divide, Skills and Strategies for Conversations That Work

by Tania Israel

Paperback(New Edition)

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Author featured on NPR's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED and NBC's THE TODAY SHOW with Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager

Winner in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards for Self-Help

As featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, TED Talks, and The Orange County Register, this practical, politically neutral book offers concrete skills for holding meaningful conversations that cut across today's intense political divide, showing readers how to connect to the people in their lives. This is a great read for all sides of the political spectrum and an ideal companion to the bestsellers The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream by Barack Obama, BLITZ: Trump Will Smash the Left and Win by David Horowitz, The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith, Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky by Noam Chomsky, Lincoln on Leadership: Executive Strategies for Tough Times by Donald T. Phillips, and How to Build Meaningful Relationships Through Conversation by Carol Ann Lloyd

Political polarization is at an all-time high, and the consequences for our personal relationships are significant. Many people have friends and family members with whom they feel they can no longer communicate because of their extreme political views. In this book, psychologist Tania Israel presents her program for helping people have meaningful, constructive conversations with those they disagree with politically.   

Chapters show readers how to develop and use the scientifically-proven skills that are the foundation of constructive conversation, including strategies for effective listening, managing emotions, and understanding someone else’s perspective, as well as finding common ground, avoiding self-righteousness, and telling your own story. Throughout, conversation prompts, practical exercises, case examples, and self-quizzes help readers visualize and practice starting, sustaining, and ending challenging conversations.  

Inspired by the author’s experience leading countless workshops to bridge common ground among members of her community, this book shows how we can reach across the divide and bring Americans together, one conversation at a time. 


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781433833557
Publisher: American Psychological Association
Publication date: 08/11/2020
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 175
Sales rank: 200,643
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x (d)

About the Author

Tania Israel holds a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology and is a Professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Dr. Israel leads dialogue skill-building workshops to help people connect across political differences and teaches about helping skills, leadership, and community collaboration. She has also facilitated educational programs and difficult dialogues on a range of topics, including abortion, law enforcement, religion, and sexual orientation. She lives in Santa Barbara, CA. Visit and follow her on Twitter @BtheBdialogue, Facebook, and on Linked In

Table of Contents

Activities You Can Do on Your Own ix

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction: The State of Our Union 3

Moving Beyond Our Bubbles 5

My Experience With Dialogue 7

Meet Kevin and Celine 9

How to Use This Book 10

Chapter 1 Getting Started: The Basics of Meaningful Dialogue 15

What Kind of Conversation Are We Talking About? 16

Dialogue, Discourse, and Debate 20

What Inspires or Interferes With Dialogue? 21

Celine and Kevin's Motivations and Barriers 29

Two Things to Do 29

Chapter 2 Preparation for Dialogue 33

Getting Past Anticipatory Anxiety 33

Warming Things Up 35

Invitation to Dialogue 36

Communication Guidelines 39

Kevin and Celine Discuss Communication Guidelines 41

Structuring the Dialogue 43

Chapter 3 Why Listen? 45

Learning How to Listen 48

Nonverbal Attending 49

Reflecting 50

Open-Ended Questions 55

Celine and Kevin Apply Listening Skills 59

Overcoming Common Blocks to Effective Listening 63

Celine and Kevin Practice Listening 69

Final Thoughts on Listening 72

Chapter 4 Managing Emotions 75

Fight, Flight, Freeze 76

Forward 79

Kevin and Celine Manage Emotions 86

Deescalating Conflict 90

Noting the Emergency Exits 91

Individual Differences in Managing Emotions 92

Emotion Regulation 93

Chapter 5 Cultivating Understanding 97

Distorted Perceptions 98

Applying a Corrective Lens 102

Perspective Taking 103

Learning About Other People 105

How to Be Righteous Without Being Self-Righteous 108

Celine and Kevin Demonstrate Cultural Humility 110

In Sum 113

Chapter 6 Talking Skills 117

Do I Finally Get to Speak? 117

Telling Your Story 118

Bridging the Divide 122

Common Ground With Kevin and Celine 124

Persuasion 128

Chapter 7 Dialogue Skills in Context 135

How Invested Are You in the Relationship? 135

Skillfulness in Dialogue 137

Distance Between Views 138

The Politics of Pizza 138

Identities and Affiliations With Celine and Kevin 141

Chapter 8 Dialogue Skills in Action 145

Strengthening Dialogue Skills 145

Exiting With Intention 150

Kevin and Celine Say Goodbye 152

Integrity and Grace 153

The Power of These Skills 154

Additional Resources 157

Communication Guidelines 161

Activities to Try With a Partner 163

Index 169

About the Author 175

What People are Saying About This


Through my years moderating healthy conversations between conservatives and progressives, I deeply believe that the practical skills in Beyond Your Bubble will breathe new life into our democracy.


In a gentle and compassionate way, the author reminds us of things we know, but easily forget, when we care deeply about an issue.

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