Hochschild moves out of the comfort zone of like-minded thinkers in Berkeley, California to the Southern tip of Louisiana. She explores the divide between the environment and development, the right and the left, capitalism and democracy, all in an attempt to truly listen, engage in sense-making, and build empathy for those who live and breathe beyond the divide.
It is by far one of the most intriguing books that have hit my post-doc night stand. I have gained three valuable insights from this must-read that I encourage every leader to explore.
- Do not assume you know. We will never know any experience except our own. Everyone deserves the right to tell his or her own story to an unassuming listener.
- The majority of Americans have similar interests. We want to protect what we love, and we want to provide for our families and our future. When we strip away the differences, we are left with surprising similarities.
- It is harder to listen than to defend, but the rewards of listening are much greater when we set aside our assumptions, beliefs, and judgments and sit in curiosity of the other. Empathy can cultivate in our hearts and souls when we take a seat in curiosity and questions versus knowledge and expertise.
As leaders and professionals, we need to find time to peruse material that does not sharpen what we already know, but material that unsettles and challenges us to go deeper into what we believe and why. “Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, a Journey to the Heart of our Political Divide,” is the perfect dose of heart-breaking and soul-feeding insight deserving of every leader’s night stand. For those who have read it – I would welcome your viewpoints!
Who thinks different than you and what would it take to sit in gentle curiosity of them?