The “out of my bubble” challenge is based on the expertise of many people and organizations. I have been inspired by the Difficult Conversations book, the guides prepared by Essential Partners and the podcast I Voted Clinton. You voted Trump. Let’s talk.  from the New York Times. If you want to share other inspirational sources, please do


Platforms and organizations

The Heterodox Academy –  
 a diverse group of social scientists, natural scientists, humanists, who we have come together to advocate for a more intellectually diverse and heterodox academy. In November 2017, they launched the Open Mind Platform, a free interactive platform designed to depolarize communities and foster mutual understanding across differences. Also, a reat list of books and articles compiled as part of the Open Mind Platform here. In clear five steps … 

Better angels – launched in 2016, Better Angels is a bipartisan citizen’s movement to unify our divided nation (US). By bringing red and blue Americans together into a working alliance,  building new ways to talk to one another, participate together in public life, and influence the direction of the nation. Also, a nice guide for “talking across the political divide” here.

Heineken UK “World’s Apart” advertising brings two people with different views together, has them work together and talk together (and then have a beer :-). This is part of a more global effort by Heineken, including a partnership with Human Library. 

Human Library is a worldwide movement. Using the metaphor of a library with “human” bookes, it is designed to build a positive framework for conversations that can challenge stereotypes and prejudices through dialogue.

Listening coalition – Listen First Project established a coalition of non-profit organizations and individual leaders committed to collaboratively promoting and practicing listening in order to improve relationships and public discourse.

Essential Partners – (formerly Public Conversations Project) has been exploring the power of dialogue for more than 25 years. Our questions are partly inspired by their method and their Reaching Across the Red/Blue Divide guide published in November 2016. 

IDEO, an innovator in human-centric design, is designing ways of discussing difficult topics. Fred Dust says: “The times when people learn the most and are most open to change are when they are coming out of a crisis. If we’re not designing for how we have dialogue in those critical—potentially curable—moments, we won’t be able to get to radical change,” Dust says. But these conversations, he adds, cannot take on the form of a polarized debate. Ideo has designed a new, interactive form of discussing difficult and complex topics called Creative Tensions.

Talkabout – peer managed discussions about the US 2016 election on Google hangouts. We have been inspired by their Code of conduct https://talkabout.stanford.edu/election#conduct_pledge

Village Square – a non-profit focusing on growing civil dialogue on divisive issues. Helped to put together the questions for the Run-Up podcast (below).

Living Room Conversations is an open source project where friends meet for meaningful conversation about topics they care about – “no fancy event or skilled facilitator” is needed. They also have conversation ground rules that are similar to the ones we advocate.

www.civilpolitics.org/Civil Politics is a non-profit organization that is run by a group of academics whose expertise lies in the use of data to understand moral psychology. “Civility” does not mean agreement – it is defined as the “ability to disagree productively with others, respecting their sincerity and decency.” Inspiring page about “What you can do”. 


I Voted Clinton. You voted Trump. Let’s talk. Three episodes of New York Times’ podcast The Run-Up feature discussions between father and son, two co-workers and two once close high school classmates. The questions provided by the Run-up partly inspired my questions above. November 2016.

Red State Blue State – This American Life Episode – Ira Glass explores the gap between the Democrats and Republicans before the election, “trying to understand what it is doing to people to be living this way now”. Little did he February 2012, 60 minutes.

Life in the Wrong Political Bubble. Podcast episode of of Science Friday – exploring with social scientists and activists how is living in a community (bubble) that does not share one’s views. July 2016, 18 minutes. 


Difficult Conversations – How to Discuss What Matters Most by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton and Sheila Heen. A classic book on how to communicate in the workplace, at home or in communities. Both research based and practical. Published in 1999.

Empathy. Why It Matters and How to Get It by Roman Krznaric. Call to action for social change through more listening and more understanding of each other. And a guide to develop six habits of highly empathic people. Published in 2014.

Never Split the Difference. Negotiating as if Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss and Talh Raz. An unlikely candidate for this list by a former FBI hostage negotiator – but bizzarely enough, even if you are fairly sure that the other person is “wrong”, it is better to listen, ask questions and use a lot of empathy. Published in 2016.


Political Dialogue in Polarizing Times – Robert Bordone and Rachel Viscomi, of the influential Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program explore how to have a conversation.  about the election and other contentious topics without alienating your family, friends and people in your social network. October 2016, 30 minutes live Facebook video.

Power of Outrospection by RSA Animates. Philosopher and author Roman Krznaric explains how we can help drive social change by using empathy. If you are lazy to read his book (below). December 2012, 12 minutes. Krznaric is also a co-founder of the Empathy Library online. 

Can a divided America heal? TED talk from November 2016 by Jonathan Haidt. 

How to have better political conversations – TED talk from by Robb Willer. If we are in a zombie apocalypse movie, who is the zombie? Them? Or us? 


Why are we avoiding political conversations? Do we  prefer living in a “bubble” or “echo chamber”, where we feel we belong? Are we afraid that we would be persuaded and not so sure about our position any more? Are we fearful that we will step on somebody’s toes (“identity trigger” in experts’ speak)? These are some of the topics tackled by Robert Bordone and Rachel Viscomi, in the 30 minutes long Facebook live talk on how to have a conversation about the election and other contentious topics without alienating your family, friends and people in your social network.

They are both part of the influential Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program (HNMCP)  and are also leading a reading group this semester for Harvard Law students on how to create civil and meaningful dialogue between those with differing and competing views on political issues.



Yesterday evening, we talked about the “bubbles” with Joel. 

​ Joel, coming from the perspective of a drama therapist and meditator, says: “I can notice what is  happening in that moment when I’m having a political conversation and getting triggered is that I am having aversion to what the other person is saying. And if I really can slow down and notice what the aversion is to, there is aversion to what they’re saying and it is unpleasant and its causing me to react. If I am trained a little bit, I notice aversion and notice attachment. 
When I am trained a little bit in noticing that, it will actually give me the power to sit still in that conversation and go: Wow. I am having aversion to what you’re saying and it’s not your fault. That’s my reaction. And I can own that and I love you and I am gonna stay here in this conversation with you. And holy shit, I can sit in the aversion and not leave and not push you away and still love you, you are my friend.” 

When I finished, I checked Facebook, where my friend Pavel shared a blog post from a movement started in LA that offers “Free listening”. Remember “free hugs” few years back? That is similar and in my view, it can go deeper. And it is very simple to do. So now, on a Sunday afternoon I am seriously thinking: who will join me in that? 



Sean Blanda, in an article on Medium from January 2016 challenges our “natural” assumption that the “other side” (the Remain voters/Leave voters in the UK, the voters for Zeman/against Zeman in the Czech Republic etc.) must be dumb, stupid or badly informed to make such “dumb” decisions. 

We should all enter every issue with the very real possibility that we might be wrong this time. Isn’t it possible that you, reader of Medium and Twitter power user, like me, suffer from this from time to time? Isn’t it possible that we’re not right about everything? That those who live in places not where you live, watch shows that you don’t watch, and read books that you don’t read, have opinions and belief systems just as valid as yours? That maybe you don’t see the entire picture? (...)  This is not to say the Other Side is “right” but that they likely have real reasons to feel that way. And only after understanding those reasons can a real discussion take place.

To re-consider your social media habits, you might want to read  the whole article here

Sean Blanda is the Editor-in-Chief and Director of Behance’s 99U — a Webby-award winning website, yearly sold-out conference, best-selling book series, and quarterly magazine dedicated to empowering the creative community. He lives in New York City. Thanks to Eva’s friend Mark Dannenberg-Hines who posted a link to this  article on his Facebook page. 


We have quoted this fascinating book in our Brexit blog. Social psychologists Tavris and Elliott explain the now old (and proven) theory of cognitive dissonance and how it influences the decisions we all make. 

Two lessons from dissonance theory emerge: First, the ability to reduce dissonance helps us in countless ways, preserving our beliefs, confidence, decisions, self-esteem, and well-being. Second, this ability can get us into big trouble. People will pursue self-destructive courses of action to protect the wisdom of their initial decisions. They will treat people they have hurt even more harshly, because they convince themselves that their victims deserve it. They will cling to outdated and sometimes harmful procedures in their work. They will support torturers and tyrants who are on the right side - that is, theirs. People who are insecure in their religious beliefs may feel the impulse to silence and harass those who disagree with them, because their mere existence arouses the painful dissonance of doubt".