Day 64: Are you guilty of otherizing?

For the second instalment in my The Art of Communication series is inspired by a Ted talk by  Elizabeth Lesser “Take the other to lunch” Elizabeth thinks that it is important to have an open mind and hear the other side of the story from people whose opinions we may not be aligned with.

Are you guilt of otherizing?

Otherizing happens when we make a strong negative distinctions between ourselves and another person or group of people who has different views than our own. Could be someone who has a different faith or someone from a different political persuasion.  Otherizing means making negative assumptions about a person we meet if they fall into one of these “other” categories, despite the fact we might have never had a conversation with them.

It’s an uncomfortable word that creates an “us and them”  mentality, but unfortunately it’s very rampant in our world.

A new movement “Take the other to lunch”

Elizabeth has started a new movement “Take the other to lunch” Communicating with people who we agree with is easy. There’s no friction and most of the conversation will be in agreement, but how do you have conversations with people who have significant differences of opinion to your own? Well Elizabeths says that you do need to lay down some guidelines to keep things civil and productive. The most important thing to remember is that you are not trying to change anyone’s point-of-view and you are not there to have your own opinions changed. You  are meeting with someone with an opposing to view to simply listen to where they are coming from. Just listen.

Guidelines for having lunch with the “Other”

  • Don’t try to persuade your opinions on others.
  • Don’t try to defend your own opinions.
  • Don’t try to interrupt the other person’s opinion.

There are a few open ended questions that Elizabeth thinks that we should ask each other at these lunches.

  • Share your life experiences with me.
  • What issues deeply concern you?
  • And what have you always wanted to ask someone from the other side?

Who should you invite to lunch?

Elizabeth says that the next time you catch yourself otherizing someone you will know who your potential lunch invite will be.

Have you ever had lunch with the “other” side? How did the experience go? Would love to hear about it in the comments below.


Vanessa Rose