I’ve been focused these past few months on getting LEAPFROG updated and back live again. The eBook is live and the Print book will soon follow.

BUT, I’ve hit my first (minor) road block. I can’t seem to get this list of resources onto the BOOKS page. So, while I work on figuring that out, I’ll just post them here. It’s actually a pretty good list if you are interested in civil discourse, civility, or getting along with people you wish you didn’t have to.


Links are given in the eBook version and on my website’s LEARN MORE page at janetgivens.com though I can’t guarantee their eternal viability. Do keep in mind that links notoriously come and go; often a search by title will yield what you seek.

Four sources used in putting my initial LEAPFROG acronym together:

The National Institute for Civil Discourse at the University of Arizona.

The Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution at Cornell University.

Learning for Justice: A Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, more specifically their blog post, “Toward a More Civil Discourse,” April 2016. Formerly Teaching Tolerance. This is a 3 page printable article.

Holly Weeks. Failure to Communicate: How Conversations Go Wrong and What You Can Do to Right Them. Harvard Business Review Press, 2010.

Resources for Chapter 1: LISTENING

The Greater Good Science Center of Berkeley, CA offers a step-by-step summary of active listening from their webpage, Greater Good in Action’s Active Listening.

For an entertaining example of just how difficult simply listening can be, see the two-minute YouTube video, “It’s Not About the Nail.

For those with little experience paraphrasing someone else’s words, there’s a comprehensive review of the important points to keep in mind. Written by Carter McNamara, it’s on managementhelp.org, a professional coaching site, and is entitled “How to Paraphrase and Summarize.”

Otto Scharmer’s 4 Levels of Listening is available from a variety of sources. You might find it of interest. He is a senior lecturer at MIT’s Sloan School of Management and co-founder of the Presencing Institute. Here’s one of his videos from YouTube.

Resources for Chapter 2: EMPATHY

Wonder how empathetic you are? See the online 28-question “Empathy Quiz” from by The Greater Good Science Center of Berkeley, CA that pulls from three separate research studies on empathy.

Roman Krznaric is an Australian political sociologist who has traveled the world researching and lecturing on empathy. He sees “empathy pioneers” as a “new breed of adventurers.” His website offers an “Empathy Library” for stretching that empathy muscle and his TEDx Talk, “How to start an empathy revolution,” focuses on empathy as a force for social change, how it can create a revolution in human relationships, and how it is at the core of any social movement.

Duke University runs an Empathy Development Lab, researching the development of empathy in children.

The Center for Building a Culture of Empathy has a number of programs you might find worthwhile.

Paul Parkin’s TEDx video, “Reimagining Empathy: The Transformative Nature of Empathy,” tells us that when we cultivate empathy, we enlarge our capacity to receive empathy. Check it out.

And, for a slightly different take on empathy, see the post on my blog And So it Goes,The Downside of Empathy,”where I talk about the need for balance and ask, “Can we empathize too much?”

Resources for Chapter 3: ASSESSMENT

Without the training I received at the Pennsylvania Gestalt Center, I could not have written this chapter. For more information on that training and the woman at the forefront of the center, please see my In Memoriam blog post on my website. You might also visit their website at www.gestaltcenter.com.

If you’ve not heard of Carl Sagan, you’re in for a treat with his book, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (Ballantine Books, 1995). Before he died far too young, this engaging astronomer, cosmologist, and astrophysicist brought science down to earth. Dubbed “our era’s patron saint of reason and critical thinking” his “Fine Art of Baloney Detection” chapter is a classic; an engaging summary of it is found at Maria Popova’s TheMarginalian.org.

Otto Scharmer, senior lecturer at MIT’s Sloan School of Management and co-founder of the Presencing Institute, has many books, YouTube videos, and articles on Medium. I recommend them all.

Resources for Chapter 4: PERSPECTIVE

Once I came across the quote I opened this chapter with, I had to learn more of David W. Johnson. I was not disappointed. Check out “The Importance of Taking the Perspective of Others” in Psychology Today, June 5, 2019.

For an entertaining experience of perspective taking, find Jon Scieszka’s The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Alexander T. Wolf on YouTube. Yes, it’s the traditional story, but told from the perspective of the wolf.

The University of California at San Francisco has an excellent website from their Office of Diversity and Outreach that I found helpful in writing this chapter. I hope you’ll check it out.

Resources for Chapter 5: FACTS

John Cook and Stephen Lewendowski remind us how an effort to debunk misinformation can inadvertently reinforce the very myth one seeks to correct. In their The Debunking Handbook, 2012, they say, “To avoid these “backfire effects,” an effective debunking requires three major elements. This free pdf download is nine pages long and is available from Skeptical Science.com

The classic text  on cognitive dissonance is When Prophecy Fails by Leon Festinger, Henry Riecken, and Stanley Schacter (Simon & Schuster, 1959). I described this book and others in “Blame it on the Oxytocin” at janetgivens.com on August 3, 2016.

Resources for Chapter 6: RESPECT

The Fetzer Institute offers a wealth of information on a variety of topics. I highly recommend their Essays on Deepening the American Dream, written in 2001 andavailable at fetzer.org, specifically David M. Abshire’s “The Grace and Power of Civility: Commitment and Tolerance in the American Experience.”

Resources for Chapter 7: OBSERVATION

For some background on those belly breaths, see Christopher Bergland. “Diaphragmatic Breathing Exercises and Your Vagus Nerve.” Psychology Today, May 16, 2017.

I was so pleased to see Rosie Greer’s “It’s Alright to Cry” song on the Free To Be, You and Me album referred to often as I researched this chapter. I had to hear it once again and found it here on YouTube.

Charlotte Kasl was one of the three psychotherapists with Buddhist leanings that I read in my runup to my Peace Corps years and mentioned in my memoir. Two of her books that helped me then and once again spoke to me in writing this chapter are A Home for the Heart: Creating Intimacy with Loved Ones, Neighbors, and Friends (Harper Collins, 1997) and If the Buddha Married: Creating Enduring Relationships on a Spiritual Path, Part Seven: Making Friends with Conflict (Penguin Books, 2001).

My training at the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland (Ohio), particularly faculty members Ellen Hoffman and Heidi Abrams, gave me a solid introduction to the idea of seeing observations separately from the meaning we attach to them.

Resources for Chapter 8: GRATITUDE

Melanie Greenberg writes much on gratitude. For this chapter, I pulled a bit from her article “How Gratitude Leads to a Happier Life” inPsychology Today, November 2, 2015.

Jennifer Hofmann’s weekly Action List on her “Americans of Conscience Checklist” is available online at jenniferhofmann.com.

Hema Pokharna, PhD. “Living With The Power of Gratitude.” Audio presentation from NVCtraining.org (available to subscribers only).

Want more? Good for you.

AllSides.com offers media reports on a range of current topics, but always choosing three sources, “Left, Center, and Right.” It’s been somewhat fascinating to me to widen my reading, though I will admit I often find their categorization scheme challenging my biases.

BraverAngels.org is “a bipartisan network of leaders and organizations whose vision is to reunite America. Our method is to improve our society’s approaches to conflict. We seek an America with less uninformed animosity between left and right, less separation of upscale America from the rest of America, and fewer good reasons for the governed to hold the governing in contempt. To work for these changes, we bring people together from across the divides to rethink currently polarized issues, show why reducing polarization is an urgent priority, conduct citizen education and leadership training, and recommend policy reforms that will permit progress and compromise to be substituted for impasse and frustration.

Originally called Better Angels, their mission remains the same: “a citizens’ organization uniting red and blue Americans in a working alliance to depolarize America. We try to understand the other side’s point of view, even if we don’t agree with it. We engage those we disagree with, looking for common ground and ways to work together. We support principles that bring us together rather than divide us.

They took their name originally from Abraham Lincoln, who, in 1861, said: We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory … will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

ConversationCafe.org From their website: “Conversation Cafés are open, hosted conversations in cafés as well as conferences and classrooms—anywhere people gather to make sense of our world. At a Conversation Café there is nothing to join, no homework, no agenda, just a simple process that helps to shift us from small talk to BIG talk, conversations that matter.”

CNVC.org is the website for the Center for Non-Violent Communication, a global nonprofit organization dedicated to sharing Nonviolent Communication (NVC) around the world. From their website: “NVC is about connecting with ourselves and others from the heart. It’s about seeing the humanity in all of us. It’s about recognizing our commonalities and differences and finding ways to make life wonderful for all of us.” Their focus on honesty and empathy fits in nicely with the principles here with LEAPFROG. Their call to “connect before correct” and their emphasis on honesty and empathy wove their way into my third edition.

Greater Good in Action’s Active Listeningwebsite is based at the University of California at Berkeley. The site offers a step-by-step summary of active listening and a quiz to assess your level of empathy. For a variety of quizzes from them, see this page.

HiFromtheOtherSide.com will match you with someone “from the other side.” Here’s how they introduce themselves on their website: Since the election, many of us talked about getting out of our echo chambers to talk to someone who supported another candidate. Not to convince, but to understand. … Once we find a match, we’ll shoot you two an email introducing you for a one-on-one conversation.

Krista Tippett, OnBeing.org: Krista offers a “Living the  Questions” series and, in 2018, offered one on What does civility actually mean and is it enough?

ListenFirstProject.org “mends our frayed social fabric by building relationships and bridging divides. We combat the universally felt crisis of distance, division, and dehumanization across differences with conversations that prioritize understanding. To maximize impact, we catalyze the #ListenFirst movement powered by 300 partner organizations, thousands of individuals, National Conversation Project, businesses, schools, cultural influencers, and local chapters around the world.”

LivingRoomConversations.org is “a recognized leader in the bridge-building movement with expertise in crafting effective and accessible tools for dialogue. Since 2010, we have been working to heal society by connecting people across divides – politics, age, gender, race, nationality, and more – through guided conversations proven to build understanding and transform communities.

We offer a range of resources to help individuals and communities engage in conversations. Our core offering is our library of conversation guides on over 150 topics that are timely and responsive to local needs. These are regularly used by communities of practice across the country.”

MakeAmericaDinnerAgain.com partners with Living Room Conversations offering conversation guides on politics, race, COVID-19, and others. For four years beginning in 2016, they hosted nationwide, small group conversations bridging the divide. Now online or across your dinner table. They also run an active Facebook Group.

MoreInCommon.com is an international initiative, set up in 2017 to build communities and societies that are stronger, more united and more resilient to the increasing threats of polarization and social division.

NationalCivicLeague.org was founded in 1894 to advance civic engagement to create equitable, thriving communities.

NIOT.org is the website for Not In Our Town, “a movement to stop hate, racism and bullying, and build safe, inclusive communities for all.

RC.org is the website for Re-evaluation Counseling, a movement in interpersonal relationships that’s been growing since 1950. From their website: Re-evaluation Counseling is a process for freeing humans and society as a whole from distress patterns so that we may resume fully intelligent functioning. Re-evaluation Counseling is practiced in pairs, by people listening to each other and assisting each other to release painful emotions.

WhatIsEssential.org is the website for Essential Partners. “Build a community strengthened by differences, connected by trust.” Founded in 1989, EP works with communities, businesses, schools, colleges, civic groups, and faith institutions across the globe to equip people “live and work better together in community by building trust and understanding across differences … by navigating the values, beliefs, and identities that are essential to them.”

Additional Books that support the LEAPFROG acronym

Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald. Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People. Bantam, 2016.

Susan Clark and Woden Teachout. SlowDemocracy: Rediscovering Community, Bringing Decision Making Back Home. Chelsea Green Publishing, 2012. Includes an extensive resource list of additional supportive organizations including the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation (NCDD.org).

Antonio Damasio. Self Comes to Mind: Creating the Conscious Brain. Vintage Press, 2010

Victor Frankl. Man’s Search for Meaning. Beacon Press, 1946.

Jonathan Haidt writes about the different values of liberals and conservatives in the Psychology Today blog. See also The Righteous Mind (2012), The Coddling of the American Mind (2018), and Why Do They Vote (2018).

Steven Hawkins et al. Hidden Tribes: A Study of America’s Political Landscape. 2018. Available online at hiddentribes.us.

Celeste Headley. We Need To Talk: How to have Conversations that Matter. Harper-Wave, 2017

Jay Heinrichs. Thank you for Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion. 3rd. Edition. Three Rivers Press, 2017.

George Lakoff. Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think. University of Chicago Press, 2002.

Jon Meacham. The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels. Random House, 2018.

Frances Moore Lappé. You Have the Power: Choosing Courage in a Culture of Fear. TarcherPerigree, 2005.

Lillianna Mason. Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity. University of Chicago Press, 2018.

Parker Palmer. Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit. Jossey-Bass, 2011.

Steve Pinker. Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress. Viking Penguin Random House, 2018.

Timothy Shaffer et al. A Crisis of Civility?: Political Discourse and Its Discontents. Routledge, 2019.

John Welwood. Toward a Psychology of Awakening. University of Chicago Press, 2000

Resources for the Academically Inclined

Brockler, Hermann, Trautwern, Holmes, and Singer. “Know Thy Selves: Learning to Understand Oneself Increases the Ability to Understand Others.” Journal of Cognitive Enhancement 1(2): 197-209, 2017.

Bruneau, Emile G.  & Rebecca Saxe. “The Power of Being Heard: The benefits of perspective-giving in the context of intergroup conflict.” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 48(4): 855-866, 2012.

Corcoran, Kevin. “Happiness on the Brain: The Neuroscience of Happiness, Part 1” Center for Christian Thought, 2015. Available at cct.biola.edu.

Dillon, Robin S. “Respect.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2018. Available online at plato.stanford.edu.

Emmons, Robert and Michael McCullough. “Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 84(2):377-389, 2003.

Gal, David and Derek Rucker. “When in Doubt, Shout! Paradoxical Influences of Doubt on Proselytizing.” Psychological Science 21(11): 1701-1707, 2010. Available online at journals.sagepub.com.

Johnson, David W. “Cooperativeness and Social Perspective Taking.”Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 31(2): 241-244, 1975.

Keohane, Joe. “How Facts Backfire. Researchers discover a surprising threat to democracy: our brains.” The Boston Globe, July 11, 2010.

Kuklinski, James. “Misinformation and the Currency of Democratic Citizenship”. Journal of Politics 62(3): 790-816, 2000.

Max Plank Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences. “Empathy and perspective-taking: How social skills are built.” Science Daily, November 20, 2020.

Nyhan, Brendan and Jason Reifler. “When Corrections Fail: The persistence of political misperceptions.” Political Behavior 32(2): 303-330, 2010.

Redlawsk, David. “Hot Cognition or Cool Consideration? Testing the Effects of Motivated Reasoning on Political Decision Making.” The Journal of Politics, 64(4): 1021-1044, 2003. Available at onlinelibrary.wiley.com.

Reifler, Jason and Brendan Nyhan. “Opening the Political Mind? The effects of self-affirmation and graphical information on factual misperceptions.” Available at brendon-nyhan.com/blog.

Tjosvold, Dean & David W. Johnson. “Effects of Controversy on Cognitive Perspective Taking.” Journal of Educational Psychology 69(6): 679-685, 1977.

Wang, Y. A.  & Andrew R. Todd. “Evaluation of Empathizers Depend on Target of Empathy.” Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, Science Daily,October 27, 2020.

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