By Camryn Banks
Mónica Guzmán, author of I Never Thought of it That Way sat down with Elon News Network ahead of her lecture on Sept. 21
Photo by Max Wallace | Elon News Network
Mónica Guzmán, author of Elon University’s 2023-24 Common Reading book: I Never Thought of It That Way: How to Have Fearlessly Curious Conversations in Dangerously Divided Times, speaks with Elon News Network reporter Camyrn Banks Sept. 21 in the Williams Studio on campus. Guzmán spoke about her book and upcoming event for Elon’s speaker series.
Elon News Network sat down with Mónica Guzmán in the studio before her speech, titled “Curious Questions, Sparking Conversations.” Guzmán’s speech will focus on her book I Never Thought of It That Way: How to Have Fearlessly Curious Conversations in Dangerously Divided Times. All freshmen were required to read Guzmán’s book for this year’s common reading. She said her book was inspired by the political difference between her and her parents.
“I’m proud of the fact that our family, even though it does get really heated and trust me it does,” Guzmán said. “I think sometimes with this book and everything, it just seems like we’re some kind of Zen masters. It’s not true, but the friction, you know, has made us who we are.”
Guzmán said if she were to rewrite her book today, compared to March 2020 when she began, she would include more stories, confessions, struggles and anecdotes of people she’s met throughout her career. She said she hopes students understand that people can’t control others and that not every problem is going to be solved or understood immediately.
“The world feels like it’s on fire, a lot of times in a lot of situations, but small steps make a big difference,” Guzmán said.
Guzmán said that it took a long time to navigate her and her parent’s political differences. She said she never understood some of her father’s opinions, and he didn’t understand hers. What matters most though, she said, is love.
“My parents would be like, ‘I don’t know about that,’ and so we would just get into it with each other. And I don’t pretend to be any star debater or anything like that,” Guzmán said. “It wasn’t even about winning the arguments. Sometimes we made it into that, but what I’ve learned is that it helped us get to know each other and understand some really interesting things about each other’s personalities and what we really care about.”
Guzmán said that her 11-year-old already has opposing political views to her. She said from reflecting on her childhood, she lets her son give his narrative instead of arguing or shutting down his thoughts. She uses the question “Tell me more,” to motivate her son and help him formulate his opinions.
Guzmán said she plans to talk to Elon students about being curious in difficult conversations, how to have a clear and open mind and what students can do to show interest in opinions — even when they disagree with them. She also said she plans on having a Q&A panel at the end of her lecture, which is a part of the Elon University Speaker Series.
“We’re all a mess of contradictions anyway,” Guzmán said. “So keep plumbing and ask people what they might care about more and recognize that we don’t have all these answers at the ready even about ourselves. Right? So expecting someone else to give you a satisfying answer in five minutes. Maybe a little unrealistic.”