Become an intellectual explorer: Master the art of conversation

Want to be smarter than you were yesterday? Learn to have better conversations using these 3 design principles.

  • What is a great conversation? They are the ones that leave us feeling smarter or more curious, with a sense that we have discovered something, understood something about another person, or have been challenged.
  • There are 3 design principles that lead to great conversations: humility, critical thinking, and sympathetic listening.
  • Critical thinking is the celebrated cornerstone of liberalism, but next time you're in a challenging and rewarding conversation, try to engage sympathetic listening too. Understanding why another intelligent person holds ideas that are at odds with your own is often more enlightening than merely hunting for logic errors.
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What do mentors do? They introduce you to your future self.

Bishop Omar Jahwar explains that before mentors can inspire others, they have to be inspired themselves.

  • What kind of work does a mentor do? Many expect that mentors can only help others that have been in the same situation as their mentees, but this is not the case.
  • What matters is that mentors can see their mentees' potential so that they can help them move away from the situation that they are in and towards the person that they actually are.
  • The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.

Befriend your ideological opposite. It’s fun.

Step inside the unlikely friendship of a former ACLU president and an ultra-conservative Supreme Court Justice.

  • Former president of the ACLU Nadine Strossen and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia were unlikely friends. They debated each other at events all over the world, and because of that developed a deep and rewarding friendship – despite their immense differences.
  • Scalia, a famous conservative, was invited to circles that were not his "home territory", such as the ACLU, to debate his views. Here, Strossen expresses her gratitude and respect for his commitment to the exchange of ideas.
  • "It's really sad that people seem to think that if you disagree with somebody on some issues you can't be mutually respectful, you can't enjoy each other's company, you can't learn from each other and grow in yourself," says Strossen.
  • The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
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The average lifespan of a friendship? 10 years. Here’s why.

This is the psychology of why friendships (and marriages) fail.

  • Some friendships last a lifetime, but most have a lifespan. In the U.S., best friends tend to last for 10 years on average, says Nicholas Christakis.
  • In friendships, one person may begin to defect or "free ride", which causes the other person to choose between cooperation or defection. People tend to choose the latter so they won't be taken advantage of.
  • A certain amount of social fluidity, taking a breather from a friendship, can actually make a friendship last longer.
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Why toxic relationships are so draining. And when to break them off.

Who you let into your mental space matters.

  • Wanting to be a "nice person" often stops people from establishing the boundaries they need to protect their mental space from toxic people.
  • For Shaka Senghor, self-pity and pessimism are two traits that turn relationships toxic. Consider that people may not know what they are doing: "[T]hey're just repeating the cycle of hurt people hurting people," says Senghor.
  • It takes courage to confront a problem head on, but an honest conversation is often the best way for things to change – and if nothing improves, value yourself enough to walk away.
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