What are Three Practices?

This is the first of a series of blog posts from the pen of Cara Highsmith and the folks at Seattle No Joke.  These idea-filled posts will appear weekly at this site.  Be sure to visit again and again for new content.

practice makes perfectAugust 7, 2018

Welcome to the Three Practice blog. If you’ve found your way here by way of the No Joke Project, you may already be familiar with the idea of the Three Practices. This concept was the brain child of Jim Henderson and was cultivated over years of observing and experiencing an increasing difference divide that has hobbled our culture’s ability to have meaningful and respectful dialogue around topics that are emotionally charged.

The idea of engaging with an ideological opponent in a way that yields something other than vitriol and division is a remedy we all clamor for and long to see, yet believe is hopeless, and the refusal to accept this as a foregone conclusion is what drove Jim to find a better way.

The Three Practices are a more than an ideology for interaction, they are a way of being and thinking that, when practiced regularly, become your embedded approach to anyone who disagrees with you. You pursue being unusually interested in others. You agree to stay in the room with difference. And, you commit to stop comparing your best with another’s worst. The reason we call them practices is that this takes repeated effort. We are working against the muscle memory of being me-centric to shift our thinking to being others-focused.

Listening more than you speak, giving ground, moving beyond tolerance to acceptance, and not simply agreeing to disagree, but seeking to understand another perspective don’t come naturally to us, but it is the foundation of what the Three Practice Methodology is all about. It is what moves us away from otherizing those who are different or believe differently from us. So, the question becomes, Will we include more and more people in the project of us? Or will we include more and more people in the project of them?
If you are interested in joining us in the Project of Us, in crossing the difference divide, check in here each week as we explore more about the Three Practice Methodology and how it can be used in big and small ways every day, in matters of national/international importance and the simple interactions we engage in as we navigate our own corners of the world.


No Joke and the American Dream

When Great Valley American Leadership Forum began talking about No Joke and its potential, it was agreed that the goal was not to sponsor a kumbaya event in which we would only bring in an interesting program, invite the public, and afterward go home. Continue reading “No Joke and the American Dream”

Meet the No Joke Team, part 2

Great Valley American Leadership Forum was originally attracted to the idea of the No Joke Project because of the simple way it models the values of A.L.F.  In No Joke’s “Three Practices” are all the elements of what constitutes healthy and effective human relationships.

A.L.F. regards No Joke as a parable, a story that is easily transported to the widest possible combinations of human diversity.  Even though the Peoria Three were originally convened by their religious roles, their story is profoundly greater than that and also applies to business, politics, gender, ethnicity, race, and a host of other sectors. Continue reading “Meet the No Joke Team, part 2”

Meet the No Joke Team

No Joke, the project, actually had its beginning in Peoria, Illinois when three good friends became the center of a city-wide campaign called “Peace for Peoria.”  The hope was that Peoria could eradicate Islamophobia and other forms of alienation and xenophobia.

City leaders, including Caterpillar, partnered with Jim, Daniel, and Kamil to model what happens when trust, communication, and understanding are given a place in our relationships.  The simple friendship of an evangelical, a Jew, and a Muslim was transformational.  Even though it sounds like a bar joke, it really was NO JOKE.

Continue reading “Meet the No Joke Team”


Otherizing is the act of treating others as different, odd, abhorrent, or unclean.  It gets expressed in a variety of ways which include, but are not limited to, mistreatment, disrespect, indifference, and outright condemnation.

Otherizing occurs as a way to explain failures.  For example, Hitler used it as a say to blame the Jews for the economic conditions in Germany.  In wartime, the enemy is often otherized through the use of slang names in order to create distance and justify killing him or her. Continue reading “Otherization”

Three Practices in Action

These are stories from Jim Henderson’s upcoming book, “The Three Practices.” Thanks to Jim for sharing this and others with our Merced No Joke Blog.

What it looks like when we refuse to compare our best with the other person’s worst in a Three Practice Group.

Tom is a few years away from retirement.  He has an infectious smile and is a great salesman, helpful since that is how he makes a living.  When Tom participates in meetings he takes notes because it makes him feel like he’s saying something important. Continue reading “Three Practices in Action”

Liz and the Wrong Question

This is a story from Jim Henderson’s upcoming book, “The Three Practices.” Thanks to Jim for sharing this and others with our Merced No Joke Blog.

At a recent Three Practice Group,  twenty people gathered to discuss their political differences.

Liz is an elementary school teacher. She and her husband have been married for over 30 years and have raised three sons. She is a Christian and lives in an upper-middle-class section of her city. If you met her you would immediately want to send your kids to her class, she’s that teacher. Continue reading “Liz and the Wrong Question”