Some of the most difficult things to deal with in community discussions are the intense anger, animosity, and distrust that frequently arise in discussions surrounding topics like development or public safety when participants have very different interests, values, and experiences. One framework we have found helpful when intense, powerful conflicts arise is Robert J. Sternberg’s taxonomy of hate (see The Psychology of Hate, 2009, p 39-40). In this framework, which we will discuss over the next several weeks, Sternberg defines three basic forms of hate: cool, hot, and cold. Understanding these different forms and their dynamics can give facilitators new tools for navigating intense emotion and distrust. Understanding these forms can also help you make realistic decisions as to what types of intervention are most likely to help move an issue forward, what is simply not feasible, and what safeguards might need to be in place. Dealing with any form of hate requires careful planning, time for processing, patience, and perseverance if change is to occur. Next week we will discuss cool hate, what it is and how you might address it.
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