The Bridging Differences Playbook, created by UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, draws on cutting-edge research to highlight the key skills and strategies for overcoming divides. The authors reviewed decades of scientific studies, interviewed dozens of leaders, and surveyed the landscape of relevant programs to create the playbook. From that work, they collected enduring wisdom and best practices, and identified a set of skills and strategies that support positive dialogue, relationships, and understanding needed for bridging political, racial, religious, or other divides.

The Playbook identifies 14 skills vital to bridging differences. It explains the main steps involved in how to practice each skill, why and when this skill is useful, and offers caveats to keep in mind when using the skill. It also cites research that supports this skill and organizations that use it in their work, along with other resources where you can learn more about it.

The Playbook’s skills are organized into three main categories:

  • Intrapersonal skills that you can try on your own, to build your capacity for more positive interactions with other people and across groups;
  • Interpersonal skills to make those interactions go more smoothly
  • Intergroup skills that you can use when bringing other people or groups together—these skills are especially relevant to leaders or facilitators trying to guide others toward better interactions and deeper understanding of one another

Taken together, these skills are not supposed to constitute a formal curriculum or rigid list of requirements. Instead, they are a set of flexible principles that people can adapt and apply in different settings, from public debates and political discussions to our most intimate relationships. They can serve as the backbone for a new initiative or help to explain why an existing program already works. Not every skill is appropriate in every circumstance.

Given the urgency of this work, we hope the Playbook gives you the confidence and tools to take an important first step toward overcoming divisions and divides, whether within families, between groups, or across our nation.