It’s a lot easier to keep your friends close and your enemies closer when there’s free coffee involved.
This is the crux of an initiative by Harvard Business School start-up, “Hi from the Other Side.”
The company – which is spearheaded by student Henry Tsai and works to foster understanding between liberals and conservatives – is giving away free Starbucks gift-cards to those who engage in conversation with someone whose political beliefs differ from their own.
Lovers of caffeine and their own stubborn beliefs can sign up for the business’s app via Facebook, where they’ll be introduced through email to someone nearby with opposing political leanings. Participants can choose when and where to meet up, and will only receive their free gift card once they’ve made an effort to converse and understand one another. While Starbucks isn't officially involved with the initiative, they did donate 300 cards to the cause.
It’s an odd premise, but certainly an intriguing one in these increasingly divisive times. The app’s users seem to think so, too.
“I was astonished how similar our backgrounds were,” commented Tony, a Trump supporter, on the app’s website. “We had [a] very civil conversation.”
“Everything I see in the news and my social feeds is ugliness and divisiveness,” added Rebecca, a Clinton supporter. “It was really refreshing to be able to sit face-to-face and find common ground with another mom like me who just happened to have different views on public policy.”
If you love the idea of free coffee but hate the idea of listening to someone you’ve already made your mind up about, the app provides helpful tips to get things going, like “Use ‘I’ statements to keep the discussion based on your personal experience, rather than pointing fingers” or “Embrace silence...Give yourself time to process what you've heard and talked about.”
Seems reasonable enough – but that may be the promise of free coffee talking.
h/t Food and Wine