How to have difficult conversations about mass shootings

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    (Screen grab from Twitter)

    (Screen grab from Twitter)

    This week, another mass shooting devastated the country.  

    When the nation engages in another discussion about the gun laws and preventing more tragic events, it’s hard not to get heated when confronting someone with a different opinion. 

    Sheila Heen co-author of “Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most,” offers solutions to rationally talk to someone who disagrees with you.

    “Start with agreement,” she suggests. “There isn’t anyone in the country who would say that we don’t have a problem with mass shootings. What we disagree about is what to do in terms of helping it.”

    She believes that it is important to start on a positive note, as we each come in with our own insights on an incredibly complex problem.

    “We are all correct in that there are a number of factors that need to be addressed and improved in order to actually change the dynamic,” says Heen.

    Heen states that it is an important thing to remember when someone vehemently challenges your strongest beliefs. That doesn’t mean that you should shut down any emotions that you might experience.

    “Trying not to feel offended is not going to work because you are going to have emotional reactions during the conversation,” advises Heen. “When we don’t name and express feelings, they turn into judgments, accusations, etc.” 

    Heen continues to focus on the smaller scale, especially among disagreeing relatives. She found it more constructive to have an inquisitive approach.

    “One of the things that I have found useful in political discussions is the question: what worries you the most?” says Heen. “That question often leads to a much more interesting conversation.”

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