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The Art of Effective Communication

Creating Common Ground with Arthur Lupia

Professor Arthur Lupia discusses how to communicate when connecting with those of diverse identities, beliefs, and ideologies as part of the Finding Common Ground Teach-Out .

Excerpt From


0:00 hi so a question that a lot of us ask is 0:04 how can we create common ground we not 0:07 only want to find it but we want to 0:08 create situations where we can do things 0:10 that benefit our communities that 0:12 benefit children and seniors and that 0:13 are great for our nation it can seem 0:15 hard to do because sometimes there's 0:17 divisive issues sometimes you might feel 0:20 that you're gonna get shouted down if 0:21 you have a new idea but what we want to 0:23 talk about in this segment is how to 0:25 create common ground in a way that you 0:27 can help others and take the great ideas 0:29 you have and the great passion that you 0:30 have and really help turn it into things 0:33 that improve quality of life this really 0:37 matters because we are find ourselves in 0:38 lots of different situations could be a 0:40 family dinner 0:41 could be a community gathering could be 0:43 a church group where you talk about 0:44 social issues and you wonder how can I 0:49 convey myself effectively when there are 0:52 diverse points of view and when people 0:54 might disagree with me 0:55 so what I want to do now is talk about 0:56 three steps you can do to create a 0:58 circumstance where you can be heard and 1:00 to create a circumstance where if you 1:02 listen to others you might be able to 1:04 create great things so let's talk about 1:06 those three steps the first step is 1:08 creating a spirit of generosity every 1:12 day every moment we have a new 1:15 opportunity to learn we have a new 1:17 opportunity to grow we have new 1:19 opportunities for redemption we have new 1:22 opportunities to build but one way to do 1:25 that is to create a circumstance where 1:26 people feel comfortable in a room with 1:28 one another by establishing a spirit of 1:31 generosity I mean walking into a 1:34 situation not just knowing why you're 1:36 there but thinking about why is someone 1:39 else there why did someone put down 1:41 their phone turn off the TV and put 1:44 aside all the other things in life and 1:46 decide to be in a room with you right so 1:49 when I meet people I try and figure out 1:51 think hard about why are they there what 1:54 journey are they on what do they really 1:56 care about what have they been doing 1:58 before they entered the room what are 2:00 they likely to do after they leave and 2:02 how can I be helpful to them on their 2:04 journey if I walk into a room 2:06 understanding why people are there as I 2:09 start to tell my story I can do it in 2:12 terms of their stay 2:13 I can reference ideas where people say 2:16 hey that's something that I care about 2:18 and I can do it with sincerity but now I 2:21 can do it in a way that other folks can 2:23 hear right so establishing a spirit of 2:25 generosity is key to getting closer to a 2:28 creating common ground once we do that 2:30 we have an opportunity to validate other 2:32 people and what do I mean by validation 2:34 it can be really hard to talk about a 2:37 bunch of issues you might not know when 2:39 do I speak what do I say what is it safe 2:41 to say by validating other people by 2:44 making some action to express I'm glad 2:47 that you're here that can mean a lot so 2:50 for example you could be in a room with 2:51 people and you see somebody else wearing 2:53 a Michigan shirt you know if you say go 2:55 blue if you know something that they've 2:58 done and you congratulate them on their 2:59 success that's a way to help people feel 3:02 comfortable in this room with you to 3:04 feel comfortable to listen and to feel 3:06 comfortable to hear I know when I walk 3:08 into a room with strangers if people 3:10 know a little bit about me it puts me at 3:13 ease and that's what I'm asking us to do 3:14 and these are situations that we can 3:16 create they don't just fall from the sky 3:19 there are situations that if we take the 3:21 time to think about other people to 3:23 think about the others in the room we 3:25 can present ourselves in way that are 3:27 easier for them to hear if we have 3:29 created a spirit of generosity and we've 3:31 made an attempt to validate other people 3:33 now we have this great opportunity and 3:35 the opportunity is trust the opportunity 3:37 is now we have some evidence that the 3:40 other people in the room want to work 3:41 with us that the other people in the 3:42 room might be willing to listen to us 3:44 and that's where the idea of learning 3:46 and persuasion can really become 3:48 powerful so I don't know how much you've 3:51 thought about persuasion but one thing 3:53 that we know about it is it's very hard 3:54 to persuade other people it's very hard 3:56 to teach people other things and that's 3:58 because attention is really really 3:59 limited how do we break through and get 4:02 people to pay attention to the ideas 4:04 that we have one way to do it is to try 4:07 and figure out things you can say that 4:09 relate to the core concerns that they 4:11 have to relate to the most important 4:13 things that they're thinking about in 4:14 other words you're making your story 4:16 their story right if you can find a way 4:19 to express your ideas in ways that 4:21 reflect generosity that validate other 4:23 people but still get across what you're 4:25 trying to say 4:26 more likely to have an audience because 4:29 you see the way that learning works is 4:30 this not just you don't just remember 4:32 what people say we ignore most 4:34 everything that is put in front of us 4:36 because we have to our capacity for 4:38 paying attention is so tiny instead what 4:41 we do like everything we learn from math 4:43 or science or from other people is a lot 4:45 like how we learn about a song so you 4:47 hear a song on the radio or on your on 4:49 your earphones you like different parts 4:52 of it you like it so much that you block 4:54 everything out and you think about the 4:55 melodies and you think about the beats 4:56 you think about the words that they have 4:58 them and what you do is create your own 5:00 version of the song so when you turn the 5:02 radio off or you take that the earphones 5:04 off you can still hear it you can be 5:06 sitting by yourself in a room and you 5:08 can play back parts of the song now 5:10 what's happened there is you're not 5:11 actually hearing the song you're hearing 5:14 a new version of the song that you 5:15 co-created the words might be a little 5:17 different some of the instruments might 5:19 be missing but it's a version of the 5:20 song that you love and you co-produced 5:22 it it's your version of the song that's 5:25 how learning works generally if you're 5:27 in a math class and you're trying to 5:29 teach children a math problem what we 5:31 need to do is create a situation where 5:33 the students are so interested in the 5:35 apples that we're trying to add or in 5:37 the basketballs that we're trying to 5:38 count that they want to co-produce their 5:40 own version of the story and if they 5:42 walk out of the room thinking about 5:44 apples or basketballs and that if you 5:46 take two here and two there and you put 5:47 them together you have four that's how 5:49 they've learned and that's how learning 5:51 works generally that is why when we're 5:53 talking about complicated issues when 5:55 we're talking in diverse groups where 5:57 people might not believe the same things 5:59 establishing a spirit of generosity that 6:01 is you know understanding white people 6:03 in a room validating their presence and 6:05 making acts taking actions that make you 6:08 seem trustworthy they set up the 6:10 scenario where people are open to 6:11 hearing your song right and if you can 6:14 convey what you're thinking in a ways 6:16 that resonates with what the other 6:17 people in the room want they're more 6:19 likely to leave the room humming it that 6:21 can empower you and that can help you 6:24 build create common ground where it 6:27 doesn't ordinarily exist and that's so 6:29 important in today's age because it's 6:31 easy to be cynical it's easy to look at 6:34 all the divisiveness but the amazing 6:35 thing about us all of us that are 6:38 watching this video is that every day we 6:40 have an opera 6:40 unity to help other people to do things 6:42 for our communities to help vulnerable 6:44 populations 6:45 to help improve our nation our city or 6:48 our state but what it often takes is 6:50 getting people in a room and creating a 6:53 situation where they're willing to 6:54 listen we all have the ability to create 6:56 and after all when you think about any 6:59 of all the things we can do all the 7:01 challenges that we face today and all 7:03 the opportunities that we have in front 7:04 of us aren't we worth it right aren't we 7:07 the people who can make the change right 7:09 these are steps that any of us can use 7:12 so let's go out there and do it let's 7:14 create common ground