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How to have constructive conversations | Julia Dhar

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    Three planes, 25 hours, 10,000 miles.
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    My dad gets off a flight from Australia
    with one thing in mind
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    and it's not a snack or a shower or a nap.
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    It's November 2016
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    and Dad is here to talk to Americans
    about the election.
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    Now, Dad's a news fiend, but for him,
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    this is not just red or blue,
    swing states or party platforms.
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    He has some really specific intentions.
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    He wants to listen,
    be heard and understand.
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    And over two weeks,
    he has hundreds of conversations
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    with Americans from
    New Hampshire to Miami.
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    Some of them are tough conversations,
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    complete differences of opinions,
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    wildly different worldviews,
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    radically opposite life experiences.
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    But in all of those interactions,
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    Dad walks away
    with a big smile on his face
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    and so does the other person.
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    You can see one of them here.
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    And in those interactions,
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    he's having a version
    of what it seems like we have less of,
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    but want more of --
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    a constructive conversation.
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    We have more ways than ever to connect.
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    And yet, politically, ideologically,
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    it feels like we are further
    and further apart.
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    We tell pollsters that we want
    politicians who are open-minded.
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    And yet when they change
    their point of view,
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    we say that they lacked conviction.
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    For us, when we're confronted
    with information
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    that challenges an existing worldview,
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    our tendency is not to open up,
    it's to double down.
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    We even have a term for it
    in social psychology.
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    It's called belief perseverance.
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    And boy, do some people's beliefs
    seem to persevere.
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    I'm no stranger to tough conversations.
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    I got my start in what I now call
    productive disagreement
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    in high school debate.
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    I even went on to win
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    the World Schools Debate
    Championship three times.
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    I've been in a lot of arguments,
    is what I'm saying,
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    but it took watching my dad
    on the streets of the US
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    to understand
    that we need to figure out
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    how we go into conversations.
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    Not looking for the victory,
    but the progress.
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    And so since November 2016,
    that's what I've been doing.
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    Working with governments,
    foundations, corporations, families,
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    to uncover the tools and techniques
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    that allow us to talk when it feels
    like the divide is unbridgeable.
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    And constructive conversations
    that really move the dialogue forward
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    have these same three essential features.
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    First, at least one party
    in the conversation
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    is willing to choose curiosity over clash.
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    They're open to the idea
    that the discussion is a climbing wall,
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    not a cage fight,
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    that they'll make progress over time
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    and are able to anchor all of that
    in purpose of the discussion.
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    For someone trained in formal debate,
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    it is so tempting to run headlong
    at the disagreement.
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    In fact, we call that clash
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    and in formal argumentation,
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    it's a punishable offense
    if there's not enough of it.
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    But I've noticed,
    you've probably noticed, too,
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    that in real life that tends
    to make people shut down,
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    not just from the conversation,
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    but even from the relationship.
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    It's actually one of the causes
    of unfriending, online and off.
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    So instead, you might consider a technique
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    made popular by the Hollywood
    producer Brian Grazer,
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    the curiosity conversation.
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    And the whole point
    of a curiosity conversation
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    is to understand
    the other person's perspective,
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    to see what's on their side of the fence.
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    And so the next time
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    that someone says something
    you instinctively disagree with,
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    that you react violently to,
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    you only need one sentence
    and one question:
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    “I never thought about it
    exactly that way before.
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    What can you share
    that would help me see what you see?”
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    What's remarkable
    about curiosity conversations
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    is that the people you are curious about
    tend to become curious about you.
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    Whether it's a friendly
    Australian gentleman,
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    a political foe or a corporate rival,
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    they begin to wonder
    what it is that you see
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    and whether they could see it to.
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    Constructive conversations
    aren't a one-shot deal.
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    If you go into an encounter
    expecting everyone to walk out
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    with the same point of view
    that you walked in with,
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    there's really no chance for progress.
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    Instead, we need to think
    about conversations as a climbing wall
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    to do a variant of what
    my dad did during this trip,
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    pocketing a little nugget
    of information here,
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    adapting his approach there.
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    That's actually a technique
    borrowed from formal debate
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    where you present an idea,
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    it's attacked and you adapt
    and re-explain,
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    it's attacked again,
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    you adapt and re-explain.
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    The whole expectation
    is that your idea gets better
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    through challenge and criticism.
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    And the evidence from really high-stakes
    international negotiations
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    suggests that that's what successful
    negotiators do as well.
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    They go into conversations
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    expecting to learn from the challenges
    that they will receive
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    to use objections to make their ideas
    and proposals better.
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    Development is in some way a service
    that we can do for others
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    and that others can do for us.
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    It makes the ideas sharper,
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    but the relationships warmer.
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    Curiosity can be relationship magic
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    and development can be
    rocket fuel for your ideas.
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    But there are some situations
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    where it just feels
    like it's not worth the bother.
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    And in those cases
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    it can be because the purpose
    of the discussion isn't clear.
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    I think back to how my dad
    went into those conversations
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    with a really clear sense of purpose.
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    He was there to learn, to listen,
    to share his point of view.
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    And once that purpose
    is understood by both parties,
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    then you can begin to move on.
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    Lay out our vision for the future.
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    Make a decision.
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    Get funding.
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    Then you can move on to principles.
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    When people shared with my dad
    their hopes for America,
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    that's where they started
    with the big picture,
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    not with personality
    or politics or policies.
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    Because inadvertently
    they were doing something
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    that we do naturally with outsiders
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    and find it really difficult sometimes
    to do with insiders.
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    They painted in broad strokes
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    before digging into the details.
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    But maybe you live in the same
    zip code or the same house
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    and it feels like none
    of that common ground is there today.
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    Then you might consider a version
    of disagreement time travel,
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    asking your counterpart to articulate
    what kind of neighborhood, country,
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    world, community,
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    they want a year from now,
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    a decade from now.
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    It is very tempting
    to dwell in present tensions
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    and get bogged down in practicalities.
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    Inviting people to inhabit
    a future possibility
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    opens up the chance
    of a conversation with purpose.
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    Earlier in my career,
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    I worked for the deputy
    prime minister of New Zealand
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    who practiced a version of this technique.
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    New Zealand's electoral system
    is designed for unlikely friendships,
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    coalitions, alliances,
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    memoranda of understanding
    are almost inevitable.
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    And this particular government set-up
    had some of almost everything --
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    small government conservatives, liberals,
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    the Indigenous people's party,
    the Green Party.
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    And I recently asked him,
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    what does it take to bring
    a group like that together
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    but hold them together?
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    He said, "Someone, you,
    has to take responsibility
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    for reminding them
    of their shared purpose:
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    caring for people.”
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    If we are more focused
    on what makes us different than the same,
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    then every debate is a fight.
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    If we put our challenges
    and our problems before us,
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    then every potential ally
    becomes an adversary.
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    But as my dad packed his bags
    for the three flights, 25 hours,
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    10,000 miles back to Australia,
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    he was also packing a collection
    of new perspectives,
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    a new way of navigating conversations,
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    and a whole set of new stories
    and experiences to share.
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    But he was also leaving those behind
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    with everyone that he'd interacted with.
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    We love unlikely friendships
    when they look like this.
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    We've just forgotten how to make them.
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    And amid the cacophony of cable news
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    and the awkwardness of family dinners,
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    and the hostility of corporate meetings,
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    each of us has this --
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    the opportunity
    to walk into every encounter,
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    like my dad walked off that plane,
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    to choose curiosity over clash,
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    to expect development
    of your ideas through discussion
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    and to anchor in common purpose.
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    That's what really
    world-class persuaders do
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    to build constructive conversations
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    and move them forward.
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    It's how our world will move forward too.
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    Thank you.
Tytuł:
How to have constructive conversations | Julia Dhar
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Video Language:
English
Duration:
10:41

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