In January, 60 Minutes featured a segment with Dave Isay, founder of StoryCorp, showcasing the vital role face-to-face conversations have in helping to see the humanity in people with whom we disagree.
Through thousands of StoryCorp interviews across the years, Isay and his team have come to know that listening is an act of love. That knowledge led to a new initiative to help connect people across ever widening divides. “One Small Step” is a program “designed to give the entire country the chance to be listened to and have a chance to talk,” said Isay, sharing that part of what contributes to our polarized society is that people feel unheard, misunderstood, and judged.
One Small Step convenes pairs of strangers—people with different ideologies or who are on opposite ends of the political divide—for 50-minute face-to-face conversations. Participants are invited to read one another’s unique biographies, then simply talk about their lives, find connections, and truly listen. And the research is showing that the One Small Step Experience is melting animosity and hate as people begin to see the good in each other. While it may be much easier to believe that someone who thinks differently is wrong or bad, getting proximate, feeling the discomfort, and being curious about someone else’s unique perspective opens hearts and minds.
Isay goes on to share “in the history of humanity—nobody’s ever changed their mind by being called an idiot or a moron or a snowflake. Yet, many minds have been changed by being listened to, by conversation, being told that they’re loved.”