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Equip yourself with the skills, tools, and network to overcome extremist thinking and toxic polarization globally.

Builders at NGA Salt Lake City: Tools to Take Action

Welcome, Governors, Staffers, and NGA Attendees! Below you will find tools and resources equipping you to take action as a Builder. Together, we can overcome the extremist thinking and toxic polarization tearing our communities and society apart on the path to addressing our toughest problems.

If this mission speaks to you, subscribe to our social media channels and newsletter now!

What Is a Builder?

Builders are flexible thinkers and constructive problem solvers who recognize the dignity of all people.


  • Reject violent absolutism and dehumanization
  • Balance passionate convictions with critical thinking
  • Take action to solve problems together

As societies around the world become increasingly divided, we are committed to equipping people with the skills, tools, and network for thinking flexibly and solving problems constructively while avoiding hate, dehumanization, and violence.

The 4Cs Framework

Overcoming extremist thinking and toxic polarization starts with each of us through our daily habits. Builders strive to unite, create, and bring light in their communities by adopting a mindset of the 4Cs:

  • Curiosity: We actively seek out new and different perspectives from our own, continually questioning our own assumptions and thinking critically about even our most strongly held positions.
  • Compassion: We strive to understand, empathize with, and “complexify” others — especially across lines of difference and disagreement.
  • Courage: We dare to be vulnerable, to be critical of those on “our side,” to be generous with “the other side,” and to speak up even when it may not be popular.
  • Creativity: Our secret weapon against the nihilistic and violent, our creativity unleashes the power of hearty, respectful debate within a vibrant marketplace of ideas to co-create a better world for everyone.

8 Ways to Be a Builder

  1. Inspire your 4Cs practice daily. Get inspiration, practical tools, and join a like-minded network by subscribing to our social media channels and newsletter.
  2. Jumpstart your mindset shift. Take the 30-day Polarization Detox Challenge to get acquainted with the evidence-backed ideas and techniques that can overcome extremist thinking in our communities and in ourselves.
  3. Diversify your media consumption. Consume at least 10% of your news from sources with different political, cultural, and geographic perspectives. Look into independent and community-based media outlets that may offer different viewpoints than mainstream sources.
  4. Diversify your social circles. Attend events or join groups that bring together people with diverse backgrounds, interests, and beliefs. This could include community clubs, cultural organizations, volunteer activities, or visiting different faith communities and houses of worship. Exposure to new environments can challenge your preconceptions and broaden your understanding of others.
  5. Ask more questions. Especially when you hear things that you disagree with or don’t fully understand, cultivate curiosity and keep asking questions to learn more rather than just react. Ask yourself, “What am I missing?” Ask the other person, “Can you tell me more about that?” Then briefly summarize what you think you’ve heard and ask, “Did I get that right?” and “Is there more you can share about that?” Remind yourself that no one person or group holds all the answers to complex issues.
  6. Keep relationships at the core. Stay focused on building quality relationships as a key to solving challenging problems. Spend time getting to know people you disagree with more deeply. Seek to identify shared goals, values, identities, and life experiences and focus on them. The stronger the relationships built, the more likely mutually beneficial solutions to shared challenges can be found.
  7. Focus on individuality, not group identity. People are often categorized into groups, such as conservative/liberal, young/old, white/Black/brown, immigrant/citizen, or rural/urban. However, research suggests that when we focus on unique individual qualities and preferences instead, we feel less threatened by those who seem different. The key is to stop seeing others as anonymous group members and to see them instead as unique individuals with whom you are likely to find you have more in common than you may have assumed.
  8. Identify common goals and seek higher ground on the path to solutions. Identify common goals on the path to solutions. When people with different perspectives focus on their values, needs, and concerns — rather than their positions, which can be mutually exclusive — they are often able to develop durable, consensus-based solutions. Strive to develop solutions that integrate the values, needs, and concerns of everyone who has a stake in your problem. Forget the “win-lose” paradigm and instead hold on to the belief that diverse individuals can find solutions of mutual benefit.

Further Education & Inspiration

Join us on our global mission to overcome extremist thinking and toxic polarization to solve our toughest problems together!

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