Overcoming Hate with Sally Kohn

Sally Kohn is the author of the fantastic book, The Opposite of Hate. which explores how we can bridge our differences and speak respectfully with those we passionately disagree with. She has has been published in the New York Times, The Washington Post, and delivered multiple TED Talks on emotional correctness, clickbait, and correcting the culture of hate.

In this episode we go deep into what it means to fight hate. Sally shares how to use our creativity and vulnerability to bridge tough topics. Whether you’re tired of internet trolls or losing friends to political differences, Sally Kohn’s insights helps us find common ground.

A few of my favorite takeaways:

  • The act of being vulnerable is a major component of what makes artists powerful. As a creative, you have the opportunity to shift your audience’s views by showing your own vulnerability.
  • It’s natural to bond with others around what we dislike and even hate. But hating things together is still backwards movement. How do we move each other forward and be part of the solution? The answer, whether we’re talking about a one on one conversation with a loved one or communicating your world view through your art, is connection. Get outside of your own little bubble and getting to know “the other side”.
  • If you want people to change, you have to give them the hope, the reason, the opportunity and the challenge to change. Being hateful, pointing fingers, and telling someone they are wrong has never been an effective way to get anyone to see things your way.


We often want to try to persuade others without being open to being persuaded, ourselves.

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Questons Asked

  • Share the story of how you used to be a bully and how it shapes your work. [2:00]
  • Haven’t we all been both bullied and been a bully? [5:00]
  • Tell me about the paradox between working for both Fox News and CNN, which are seen as politically opposite. [10:00]
  • Can you recap what you found when you had the conversation with the ex neo-Nazi? [14:57]
  • How do you reconcile the bully that lives inside all of us with the data that shows how regular people can slide into extremist hate groups? [20:15]
  • How do we make ourselves part of the solution? [23:45]
  • If someone was to ask you plainly, what is the opposite of hate, what do you say? [28:30]
  • How do you inspire others to show up as their best self? [33:37]
  • What advice do you have for people who want to follow in your artistic footsteps? [45:57]
  • What has been your biggest challenge in writing this book? [49:38]
  • What has been missing from this conversation that you would have wanted to talk about? [52:52]

In This Episode, You Will Learn:

  • We all focus on how we’ve been wronged. Try thinking about how you’ve oppressed others. [5:10]
  • Why the best way to communicate and even argue with people is not by pointing a finger at them. [6:30]
  • How creatives communicate helps others see themselves. [6:23]
  • The act of being vulnerable is a major component of what makes art and artists powerful. [7:55]
  • What Sally learned about the “other side” of the political aisle, as she worked with them more and more. They weren’t all bad people. [12:00]
  • “None of us are the worst thing we’ve ever done.” – Bryan Stevenson [13:03]
  • If you want people to change, you have to give them the hope, the reason, the opportunity and the challenge to change. [14:16]
  • “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” – Leo Tolstoy [14:30]
  • Our differences are what makes us great. The question is can we discuss our differences in opinion in a way that creates space for learning and grace and openness? [16:17]
  • Most people who join extremist, hateful groups like neo-Nazis, don’t initially agree with the ideology. They are typically loners, looking to fit in somewhere and learn the ideology. [17:19]
  • For some reason, it is inherent in our psyche to bond over hate. [21:00]
  • Guilt is not constructive. Bonding with others over hate is not constructive. How can you be part of a solution? [22:30]
  • The solution to ridding our culture of hate starts with getting outside of your own little bubble and getting to know “the other side”. [25:37]
  • Connection and compassion don’t require agreement on an issue, just an openness to a discussion. [28:30]
  • The answer to solving hate is not more hate. [31:43]
  • There are three ways to respond to trolls: responding with anger or hate is the worst option. [36:50]
  • Check out Compelling People by John Neffinger and Matt Kohut, where they share the ABC Strategy, a strategy on how to effectively communiccate with people. A is for affirm, B is for bridge, and C is content. [39:14]
  • In the US, since 9/11, 75% of of acts of mass violence were committed by white, right wing extremists. However, the media covers terrorist acts by Muslim terrorists 4 times more. [41:21]
  • We all struggle in the space between intent and impact. Own up to the impact of your own actions, and give grace to others’ when their intent was pure. [50:00]


This podcast is brought to you by CreativeLive. CreativeLive is the world’s largest hub for online creative education in photo/video, art/design, music/audio, craft/maker, money/life and the ability to make a living in any of those disciplines. They are high quality, highly curated classes taught by the world’s top experts — Pulitzer, Oscar, Grammy Award winners, New York Times best selling authors and the best entrepreneurs of our times.

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