Today my group and I were with the excellent Dev. Our adventure today was to talk with locals in Crested Butte about social issues and genuinely listen to their opinions without inflicting our own biases or trying to “fix” them.
We started the day out with going to the bus stop for a short, but thorough, meeting about communicating and listening neutrally to people. We also focused on how to deal with defensive/angry people ranting, without introducing our own thoughts into the conversation. We practiced on each other before heading out into the town to begin the core challenge.
We split up in town looking for cardboard to make signs. The idea here was to hold our sign while sitting somewhere where passersby could see us, and then they would either say something about the topic at hand, or we would politely ask them if they had an opinion on the subject. Usually, the people would either dismiss us with a simple phrase or look sheepish and fast-walk away. If they had a strong opinion on the topic they would either gush over how much they loved it and we would neutrally probe deeper into their inner thoughts and try to help them find out why they thought that way, or they would respond angrily/defensively and attempt to tell us their thoughts on the topic on the other end of the spectrum. In both scenarios, our objective was to simply listen and help the person figure out why they thought that way.
At around 12:30, our group met back up again for lunch and discussed our respective strategies, we then reformulated our plan for the rest of the challenge, some of us chose to go back to the hostel and talk with fellow adventurers, Max C. chose to talk with business owners in Crested Butte, I chose to walk the back streets and try and find the localest locals and see their opinions. One thing I particularly noticed in this second half of the challenge was how charismatic I seemed to myself, also how it’s sometimes easier to change people’s opinions if you simply step back and let them kinda talk to themselves instead of trying to break down walls that instantly go up when you talk about social issues with someone. Additionally, you then don’t try to make the conversation about yourself and try to swing your stick, especially with social issues.
At 3:30 we met back up at the hostel and had a lengthy discussion on what we learned and what we noticed. From what I can tell, we all got a lot out of this challenge, it has definitely opened my eyes. I think that, hopefully, we all will carry what we learned about communication today into the future. I truly think we learned a lot.