The science that proves how you can have political debates but still get along and get things done
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Perhaps the worst part about 2020 isn't that it's thrown so much at us. It's that we've taken all the shit we've had to wade through and started flinging it at each other. The election. Racial justice. COVID. Literally small pieces of fabric for your face. And it's tearing us apart. A University of Nebraska-Lincoln survey of 800 Americans found that one in five had a friendship that was "damaged" because of a political argument.

The unfortunate thing about it all is that we have more in common than we think we do. We just suck at discussing it. According to More in Common, a group that works to address underlying drivers of polarization, Americans believe that more than half the country holds extreme views, but it's actually closer to 30%. The problem is that we've been misunderstanding each other, not that our views are wildly dissimilar.

While some people advocate just not talking to their peers with different views, the solution isn't to cut someone out of your life, or a refusal to engage with the someone of the opposite party. The solution is more conversation. But legit conversation, not the kind of "conversation" where two people just point out all the different ways the other person is wrong.


A recent study published in the Harvard Business Review proposes a better way for discussing disagreements. Researchers asked thousands of people to write responses to political statements with which they disagreed. Then, thousands of other people evaluates those statements based off of how receptive the writer seemed. The researchers were able to find four strategies which would help increase receptiveness in conversation.

The strategies are simple, but effective. The study advises people to "acknowledge the other person's perspective," "hedge your claims, "phrase your arguments in positive terms," and "point to areas of agreement, even if small or obvious."

It turns out, listening to other people's ideas makes them more receptive to yours. Meaning, if you want to change someone else's mind, it's better listen to what's on their mind. "When we appear receptive to listening to and respecting others' opposing positions, they find our arguments to be more persuasive," Francesca Gino, who worked on the study, wrote in the Harvard Business Review. "In addition, receptive language is contagious: It makes those with whom we disagree more receptive in return. People also like others more and are more interested in partnering with them when they seem receptive."

The takeaway from the study is hopeful. As deep as our scars seem right now, they can one day fade away – as long as we learn to listen. "[E]ven when discussing the most difficult topics, it is possible for people with polar-opposite points of view to have a constructive conversation," Gino wrote in the Harvard Business Review.

And there's a strong indication that people want to heal. As partisan as this past election was, a Pew Research poll conducted before the election found the vast majority of supporters of both candidates (86% of Trump supporters and 89% of Biden supporters) wanted their favored candidate to focus on the needs of all Americans, "even if it means disappointing some of his supporters."

The healing process doesn't sit only in the president's hands. It's up to us to be better in our daily lives. And that starts with communication.

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This year, we've all experienced a little more stress and anxiety. This is especially true for youth facing homelessness, like Megan and Lionel. Enter Covenant House, an international organization that helps transform and save the lives of more than a million homeless, runaway, and trafficked young people.

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Amazon is Delivering Smiles this holiday season by donating essential items and fulfilling AmazonSmile Charity Lists for organizations, like Covenant House, that have been impacted this year more than ever. Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a charity of your choice or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your selected charity.

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We're more than nine months into the COVID-19 pandemic and things are only getting worse. On Wednesday, December 2, America had its deadliest day yet with nearly 3,000 people succumbing to the virus.

America is experiencing its greatest public health crisis in generations and the only way we're getting out of it is by widespread administration of a vaccine.

However, if people don't take the vaccine, there will be no end to this horror story.

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This year, we've all experienced a little more stress and anxiety. This is especially true for youth facing homelessness, like Megan and Lionel. Enter Covenant House, an international organization that helps transform and save the lives of more than a million homeless, runaway, and trafficked young people.

Watch the full story:

Amazon is Delivering Smiles this holiday season by donating essential items and fulfilling AmazonSmile Charity Lists for organizations, like Covenant House, that have been impacted this year more than ever. Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a charity of your choice or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your selected charity.

Sometimes it seems like social media is too full of trolls and misinformation to justify its continued existence, but then something comes along that makes it all worth it.

Apparently, a song many of us have never heard of shot to the top of the charts in Italy in 1972 for the most intriguing reason. The song, written and performed by Adriano Celentano and is called "Prisencolinensinainciusol" which means...well, nothing. It's gibberish. In fact, the entire song is nonsense lyrics made to sound like English, and oddly, it does.

Occasionally, you can hear what sounds like a real word or phrase here and there—"eyes" and "color balls died" and "alright" a few times, for example—but it mostly just sounds like English without actually being English. It's like an auditory illusion and it does some super trippy things to your brain to listen to it.

Plus the video someone shared to go with it is fantastic. It's gone crazy viral because how could it not.

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With vaccine rollouts for the novel coronavirus on the horizon, humanity is getting its first ray of hope for a return to normalcy in 2021. That normalcy, however, will depend on enough people's willingness to get the vaccine to achieve some level of herd immunity. While some people are ready to jump in line immediately for the vaccine, others are reticent to get the shots.

Hesitancy runs the gamut from outright anti-vaxxers to people who trust the time-tested vaccines we already have but are unsure about these new ones. Scientists have tried to educate the public about the development of the new mRNA vaccines and why they feel confident in their safety, but getting that information through the noise of hot takes and misinformation is tricky.

To help increase the public's confidence in taking the vaccine, three former presidents have volunteered to get their shots on camera. President George W. Bush initially reached out to Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx to ask how he could help promote a vaccine once it's approved. Presidents Obama and Bill Clinton have both stated that they will take the vaccine if it is approved and will do so publicly if it will help more people feel comfortable taking it. CNN says it has also reached out to President Jimmy Carter to see if he is on board with the idea as well.

A big part of responsible leadership is setting an example. Though these presidents are no longer in the position of power they once held, they are in a position of influence and have offered to use that influence for the greater good.

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