People in conversation

EP Guide to Conversations Across the Partisan Divide


The term polarization describes any situation where people sort themselves into opposing sides, erase the complexity of the individuals as well as the issues, and then spiral into increasingly inhumane treatment of “the other side.” Any difference in views or identities can become polarized.

Partisan polarization (e.g. Democrats versus Republicans) has become particularly harmful for American democracy. It turns our huge, complicated, diverse country into a two-sided political sport. It is corrosive to our communities, our institutions, our relationships, and makes it impossible to address the many challenges we face together.

Drawing on four decades of real-world experience and rigorous research, this guide will equip you to address polarization in your own context.

It will help you speak about what is most important to you in ways that can be heard. It will help you hear different views and experiences with openness and curiosity. It may create opportunities to repair trust, reach new understandings, and forge authentic relationships—even across different convictions and perspectives.

What this guide will not ask you to do is erase or diminish your genuine self. It does not require you to find “common ground” or pretend that political differences don’t have real consequences. We will not ask you to endure verbal abuse, threats, or hate speech.

Here you will find effective tools to help you navigate conversations across the partisan divide in your own context—plus a section at the end focused on constructive social media practices. We believe in you.

Interested in learning more about EP's approach? Consider registering for an Essential Partners workshop or contact us for a free consultation.

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