IF YOU'RE READING THIS...
You are someone who has the courage to hear someone's whole story—the deeper reasons behind what they think and why they act.
Most people surround themselves with people who think the same way they do. But if you’re here, you might be about to do something different—explore another person’s world and invite them into yours.
HOW IT WORKS
The Listening Challenge is a conversation that aims to open both people's hearts and minds to deeper understanding and human connection. It was created by MIT and Colorado College alums, informed by social science research about what helps people listen, connect, and reexamine their own assumptions and beliefs.
You invite someone you know who has political views that are different from yours to have a conversation based on the Listening Challenge script. The person you invite could be a relative, friend, neighbor, or acquaintance.
Before you begin, you and your partner read About the Listening Challenge, and agree to honor the Listening Challenge Ground Rules.
At the end of the Level 1 Challenge (60 minutes), you and your partner can decide together if you want to move on to Level 2 (30 minutes), and after that to Level 3 (30 minutes). Each level increases in difficulty, and potential reward, for you and your dialogue partner.
LISTENING CHALLENGE LIGHT
For people who want to try a shorter conversation first, you can take The Listening Challenge Light, which you can do with your conversation partner in 45 minutes.
SHARE YOUR STORY (optional)
When you’re done with the Challenge, at whatever level you finish, share your experience on our Facebook page or other social media using the hashtag #listeningchallenge. Remember to share YOUR experience, not your partner's, unless you get their permission first.
READY TO BEGIN?
About the Listening Challgenge
Why it's hard
& why it's worth it
Listening is hard work. It takes effort to hear what other people are trying to say, and strong inner discipline to stay calm when we disagree.
But the good news is listening is a muscle that gets stronger if you use it. The more you practice, the better you get.
And, it turns out, listening has benefits for you. People who hold different beliefs make us think about our own points of view more deeply. And listening helps us understand why people on the other side of an issue are doing what they do. The more we know the better prepared we are to act.
There's more. People who genuinely try to listen to people who are different are often surprised to discover that they have more in common than they realized. They discover that other people’s views are more complicated and sophisticated than they might have judged at first.
Be prepared for the Listening Challenge to stretch you and change you. Be prepared to have your thinking challenged, and your stereotypes shaken up.
Can you stay calm and curious even if your partner says things that stir you up? Can you show respect for your partner as a person, even if you disagree with their opinions or beliefs? Are you up for the challenge?
The Listening Challenge also provides limited support from MIT Sloan alums Kate Isaacs, PhD and Kara Penn, MBA for organizations looking to incorporate the Listening Challenge conversation model into their organization.
For corporations interested in training your staff in dialogue skills to create understanding and connection.
For nonprofits and community-based groups interested in hosting dialogues for your staff and members.