Leaders tell us that they’ve spent significant portions of their time over the past several months figuring out how to best communicate internally and externally about the Mideast conflict. One goal some have aspired to is what you might call “constructive communication,” which is underpinned by nuance and the pursuit of mutual understanding. (Others have focused more on damage control and minimizing communication for fear of the risks involved.)

We reached out to Deb Roy, an MIT professor who heads the MIT Center for Constructive Communication, to understand how its frameworks could be applied in workplaces. MIT’s administration has asked Roy’s group to provide tools and methods to facilitate discussions among students and assist faculty and staff navigating campus tensions since the Hamas attack on Israel. (Roy previously was chief media scientist at Twitter and published landmark research on the spread of false news online.)

As Roy explains, at the core of the center’s approach is a focus on small-group sharing by individuals of their experiences. It’s an alternative to big town hall convenings or discussions centered around opinions, which can be less constructive. His group is creating technology tools to enable such an approach and scale its impact across big organizations and communities. Here is a transcript from our conversation, edited for clarity:

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