Skip to content

Latest Stories

Top Stories

Ask Joe: Building bridges with patience and compassion

Ask Joe: Building bridges with patience and compassion

Hi, Joe.

I appreciated your last post, where you gave the manager of a business advice on how to help their staff overcome the tensions caused by polarization. I like what you say, but I still think people are people and they are not going to change. What are your thoughts on this?


Hey, Realistic.

I think it’s great that you took the time to read my last post, think about it and then reach out to share your truth on the matter. What you did is exactly what we need more of! You listened to someone’s viewpoints, contemplated them, recognized where there was alignment in our facts and perspectives, and also clarified where there seemed to be differences. You then made the effort to share your truth. I appreciate that by writing to me and being curious, you are giving me the benefit of the doubt before you judge me, or even condemn me, if you don’t see it exactly the same way.

This is what will lead to new, inclusive solutions and deeper levels of bridge-building. This may sound obvious – in fact, it is. But in our hyper-sensitive, polarized, oppositional climate, we seem to forget it.

Sign up for The Fulcrum newsletter

I actually see it the same way you do, Realistic. The goal of my advice in my last post was to help the manager find a hopeful path towards team building in order to cut through the confusion of the animosity. The exercise I offered was simply a starting point to foster productivity and a more amicable work environment; not to require people to change. And that should be the primary focus when at work: It is your job to do your job; it is not your job to change people.

Actually, not only at work, but with family members, friends or anyone who holds different views – it is not your job to change them. However, I do think it is possible with compassion and curiosity to appeal to the hearts of others and, through the messy conversations, find ways where both of you transform some of your viewpoints and find common ground.

Here’s how I see it: People don’t change; they transform. And what transforms are someone’s viewpoints, habits and patterns. A person is not their viewpoints, habits and pattern; they have viewpoints, habits and patterns. Asking someone to transform what they have is far easier than asking them to transform who they are. Expecting someone to change rarely leads to new solutions or outcomes; supporting someone to transform on their own time and in their own way does.

I have spoken to various groups on a topic I call, “How your need to be right is sabotaging your mission.” I’ve never seen a situation when you say to someone, “You are wrong!” and they instantly change. And yet, we still keep using this as a strategy for social reform. In order to shift this, the question to ask is, “Do you want to be right, or do you want to be effective?”

What is required to bring about this kind of reconciliation or shift in perspective is creating a space of safety and trust and meeting people where they currently are. That is why I believe the process of naming our highest core values is a strong starting point to shifting a work culture. It provides a neutral way for all involved to meet each other where they are, connect with the hearts of one another, and foster a deeper level of trust and safety. From there, anything is possible!

Yes, Realistic, as a concept this sounds very simple and ideal. Implementing it may feel daunting or even dangerous. It requires perseverance, courage and what I call utilizing the “skills and strategies of the heart” that increase effectiveness in bridging and diminishes opposition and breakdown of relationships. And above all, what is needed is patience.

Take it one step at a time,


Learn more about Joe Weston and his work here. Make sure to check out Joe’s bestselling book Fierce Civility: Transforming our Global Culture from Polarization to Lasting Peace, published March 2023.

To Ask Joe, please submit questions to:

Read More

broken American flag
traffic_analyzer/Getty Images

It's never too late to act

Sturner, the author of “Fairness Matters,” is the managing partner of Entourage Effect Capital.

This is the second entry in the “Fairness Matters” series, examining structural problems with the current political systems, critical policies issues that are going unaddressed and the state of the 2024 election.

Keep ReadingShow less
Flag being held out in front of Trump tower

Donald Trump supporters demonstrate in front of Trump Tower in New York a day after the former president was injured during shooting at campaign rally in Pennsylvania.

Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Democracy 2.0 will focus on compassion, not violence

By Sam Daley Harris

Daley-Harris is the author of “Reclaiming Our Democracy: Every Citizen’s Guide to Transformational Advocacy” and the founder of RESULTS and Civic Courage. This is part of a series focused on better understanding transformational advocacy: citizens awakening to their power.

Keep ReadingShow less
Secret Service agents covering Trump

Secret service agents cover former President Donald Trump after he was wounded in an assassination attempt July 13.

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Violence lives in all of us

Molineaux is the lead catalyst for American Future, a research project that discovers what Americans prefer for their personal future lives. The research informs community planners with grassroots community preferences. Previously, Molineaux was the president/CEO of The Bridge Alliance.

Whenever we or our loved ones are harmed, it is our human tendency to seek vengeance. Violence begets violence. Violent words lead to violent actions, as we’ve witnessed in the assassination attempt on former President Donald Trump.

The violence of the gunman is his alone.

Our response to violence is about us.

Keep ReadingShow less
USAID flag outside a building
J. David Ake/Getty Images

Project 2025: U.S. Agency for International Development

Breslin is the Joseph C. Palamountain Jr. Chair of Political Science at Skidmore College and author of “A Constitution for the Living: Imagining How Five Generations of Americans Would Rewrite the Nation’s Fundamental Law.”

This is part of a series offering a nonpartisan counter to Project 2025, a conservative guideline to reforming government and policymaking during the first 180 days of a second Trump administration. The Fulcrum's cross partisan analysis of Project 2025 relies on unbiased critical thinking, reexamines outdated assumptions, and uses reason, scientific evidence, and data in analyzing and critiquing Project 2025.

South African divestment is the most famous, and likely most successful, global pressure campaign in recent memory. The enemy was the minority white elites who conceived, implemented and perpetuated apartheid, the incomprehensibly malevolent scheme of legally sanctioned racial separation. These racists got their just desserts when company after company, government after government, and individual after individual pulled their resources. Eventually, the South African economy strained, leaders were toppled and the country began its long march toward moral reclamation.

Keep ReadingShow less