There was no Saturday morning soccer or golf for the 18 Left-leaning and 18 Right-leaning citizens who accepted Beyond Civility’s invitation to meet at the Cincinnati Red Cross building to engage in a civil dialogue over the appropriate role of government in supporting single mothers in poverty.
No one said it would be easy, but the short primer which provided helpful dialogue tools—like listening and inquiring with sincere interest, helped keep the focus on trying to understand the others’ perspective rather than trying to convince the other they were wrong! The warm up Side-by-Side questions that elicited the personal background of each dialogue partner to the other helped to find shared experience and interests and to set a tone of appreciation and respect.
While most participants probably left their comfort zones well behind as they forged into this challenging topic, nearly all said they would recommend the experience to their friends. Beyond Civility planners are considering whether and when to offer the program again.