Five Bits of Wisdom from Author Mónica Guzmán

Roos Read selection writer visited campus to speak with UMKC community
Mónica Guzmán speaking

Mónica Guzmán, author of this semester’s Roos Read selection, "I Never Thought Of It That Way: How to Have Fearlessly Curious Conversations in Dangerously Divided Times,” visited the UMKC Volker campus for an author talk this month.

Guzmán’s book offers insights and tools to connect with people whose views differ, a little or widely, from yours. Guzmán’s book aims to shed light on blind spots and bring people back together.

“Mónica is a journalist and storyteller who isn’t afraid to ask hard questions or to answer them,” said UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal. “Her life experiences, both personal and professional, drove her to explore why our communities feel so divided. What she found is that one of our most powerful tools in breaking down barriers is our own curiosity. When we ask questions and lean on our natural curiosity, we can understand each other and even learn from each other.”

During the author talk, Guzmán answered questions from moderator Jessica Gantt-Shafer, Ph.D., assistant professor of communication at the UMKC School of Humanities and Social Sciences, as well as questions from the attendees. Here are five bits of wisdom she shared over the course of the talk.

 Roos Read sign

  1. “I was someone who wanted to get it right all the time. I was careful and cautious, but I also found people fascinating. At my internship right out of school, I was so scared to pick up the phone. My shyness went up against my need to know these people, and it lost.”

Student asking a question 

  1. “Belonging is the most important call there is. Being understood and giving people understanding creates community.”

 Monica Guzman with Chancellor Mauli Agrawal

  1. “Feel like you aren’t connecting? One thing you can try is a pivot: ‘I see it differently. Can I tell you how I see it?’ People will hear more when they are heard.”

 Monica Guzman signing books

  1. “Need to challenge your thoughts? Try to figure out who you’re talking about but never with. If your views feel condensed and simple, look for the complexity.”

 Monica Guzman signing books

  1. “How do you disagree with someone who thinks you shouldn’t exist? ‘Am I allowed to exist in a world you think is good?’ That gives them a lot of power. Who are they to say who exists? Maybe the most powerful way to argue against people who think you shouldn’t exist is to keep on existing. Existence is power.”

This is the inaugural year for Roos Read. The campuswide initiative was launched by the Office of the Chancellor and facilitated by the Division of Diversity and Inclusion. Its goal is to encourage UMKC students, staff, faculty and community members to read a recommended title that showcases a distinctive voice, perspective or theme and engage in discussions intended to generate action toward change.

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