Four ways to kick the polarized partisan habit

President Obama, at the Jan. 12 memorial for victims of the mass shooting in Tucson, Ariz, urged the nation to move beyond finger-pointing to healing, constructive conversation. How do you do that?

Laura Chasin, founder of The Public Conversations Project, an organization that helps individuals, organizations, and communities converse constructively on issues of conflict, offers pointers for breaking the argument habit.

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1. Be aware of polarizing language

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• Develop the courage and savvy to overcome the seductions of polarizing language. Ask anyone who uses sweeping generalizations to cite some specifics they're referring to.

• Refuse to ask or answer rhetorical questions.

• Be as dedicated a citizen as you are a consumer: Spend as much time shopping for candidates - and exploring issues - as you do exploring the mall.

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