2016 was a strange year. But one thing  has been worrying me (Eva) a lot this past year – a growing divide in our societies, whether in Czechia, in the UK or in the United States. It seems that we increasingly live inside our “bubbles” and I am convinced that this is dangerous. We can agree that this is inevitable or we can try doing something about it. That is why I am making a New Year 2017 challenge for my friends:  let’s get out of our bubbles and in January 2017, have at least one constructive conversation with someone from “the other side”, with the goal of fighting further divisions in society. 

If you want to skip directly to the first “results” of the project from February 2017, they are summarized here


I will share airtime with you.
 I will not interrupt you. 
I will listen to you.


I will not attack, insult, laugh at your opinions or at you. ​


My goal is not to convince you, my goal is to understand your perspective. ​​


What needs to be changed in our country/in Europe/in the world?
What is the core of your political belief? What values are important to you? 
What in your life led to you supporting X/thinking Z? 
What is your story?

Why do you think that I am supporting Y?
What do you think is an important topic/value for me?

Would you agree with something that I am saying? 
Is there something the politician you are supporting says, that you disagree with? 

How did it happen that we differ so much in our opinions?
What do you think we can agree on? 
Why is it complicated to talk about these things for us? 
What is our relationship? Are we close?
What do we have in common? 

Questions inspired by several sources. 


Tomáš has been my friend since high school. But in summer 2015 we discovered that we have extremely different views on the refugee crisis in Europe. We fought and argued, insulted and labeled each other racist or naive. Then we avoided the topic. Then we avoided each other. We started talking about the refugee crisis exclusively with people who share our views, people in our “bubbles”.

It seems that our case is not exceptional. Media have reported similar divides between friends and families.

Increasingly, it is OK to dismiss as stupid or criminal entire groups of citizens because of the person for whom they vote. The absence of dialogue creates growing polarization, vilification of the “other side”, radicalisation of our opinions and growth of extremism. The “other side” is seen as dangerous and incomprehensible.

​Polarized society is not only less pleasant to live in, but it is also much more difficult to find good solutions to the issues in front of us (and there are quite a few).

Of course we can all just continue to complain and laugh at politicians. But when I remember how much time I spent in 2016 moaning about politicians, I would like to do something more useful in 2017. 

So here comes my 2017 New Year Challenge – let’s get out of our bubbles and in January 2017, have at least one constructive conversation with someone from “the other side”, with the goal of fighting further divisions in society. 

If the whole of humanity does that, it would roughly 3,73 billions of conversations. These conversations will not solve anything in themselves, but are the first step toward finding solutions. 
Before asking whole of humanity, I would like to have us (me and my friends, i.e. you) do a pilot. To test if it is possible and share our experiences with it. And as you are reading this right now, it means that you are part of this pilot group and I hope you are as excited about it as I am. And just to be clear – it is my private initiative, there is no party or institution behind this.


Ingredients: open mind, curiosity, sense of adventure, patienceActive time:  1 – 2 hours
If possible, have the first conversation before end of January 2017

  1. I pick a conversation partner :   who do I want to have the conversation with? Do I have a friend/family member/neighbor, who has a very different opinion on a topic I care about? 
  2. I get ready : I clarify my motivation (see box “why” on previous page). In order to prepare, I check out the “cheatsheet” (next page) and possible other sources mentioned here.
  3. I invite my partner to meet for coffee/drink/walk/to garden together. In my invitation I mention the topic and the way of having the conversation. Possible wording here
  4. We meet and talk :  At the beginning, I might remind us both about the goals and the way of having this conversation (see cheatsheet). We might use the questions mentioned in the cheatsheet. We talk as best we are able to and as long as it makes sense.
  5. I congratulate myself for trying it out. It is not easy! Bravo! 
  6. I share my experiences : Because I am part of a pilot group, it is imporant to share my experience. It is an experiment that can have a big impact on … humanity (as per above). If you want to share with a group, please use the Forum. If you prefer to communicate one to one, please write to/call/meet me – I am curious to hear what went well/what did not. And what surprised you. Few other questions I am interested in here. I have also mentioned this challenge to my friends in the Czech radio, and they were interested – so we might be able to document this challenge on the radio (that is why it would be great to have a few recordings – of your conversations, or of your thoughts on them). And of course, all other ideas are welcome! 


Do we need to agree? Can I do this conversation by email? What if I think that the “other side” really is stupid? 


Forum for sharing your experiences or lack of them. Few curious questions from Eva and a link to SurveyMonkey survey.


This initiative is based on the work of some fabulous people and organizations. Read about civil politics or hear from an FBI hostage negotiator. 


It is nice when people are able to make fun of themselves rather than of others :-).