Get Ready for Hard Talks: Strategies for SuccessApr 19, 2023
Having meaningful conversations with people who disagree with you is a skill. Knowing how to hold space for change, manage your emotions around triggering topics, present the right facts, and how to follow the flow of energy – to lean in when there’s opportunity for a breakthrough or step back to let people draw their own conclusions - is natural for some people. But most of us could use some help.
Some of us naturally keep an open mind and change our opinions based on new facts we learn. Some of us aren’t aware of how we form our opinions or if they are based on facts at all. Some people like to debate. (I’m not talking about people who play devil’s advocate.) Too many of us are afraid of conflict and disagreement, so we avoid discomfort, regardless of the cost.
After decades of facilitating difficult discussions, holding space for people who don’t agree with me about topics that are essential to my existence (like race, gender, and spirituality), and helping them successfully change their behaviors, I have developed some strategies for success that can work for any complex conversation. While it is about influencing the other person, it's not only about them. We follow the four steps I use in my membership, the Everyday Activism Habit: self-care, know your facts, undo the work, rest & rejoice.
Clients who've gone through my workshop, How to Talk to Your Racist (Sexist, Ableist, Transphobic) Friends and Family, have reported feeling more confidence and less anxiety. They build the courage to challenge friends and colleagues with bigoted behavior and beliefs. They tell me they have learned to sort out what is and what isn’t their responsibility in the relationship and have an easier time letting go of what’s out of their control. They know when to step back and suggest guidance from a professional and have referrals ready.
“Sacil has taught me how to provide kindness for myself, how to step back and know what I’m accountable for, what I can learn and unlearn, and when to point people to other teachers and guides who can take the conversations the rest of the way.” ~ Laura M
"I loved the podcast format by far than other formats. It was user “friendliest.” I appreciated your quick follow up and feedback because your additional explanations and examples deepened my learning experience." ~ Janice S
Before the Conversation
Doing self-care and paying attention to community care BEFORE you go into a complex conversation can make things so much easier. It can help you:
- get out of your head, so you can stay grounded in your body
- manage your emotions, so you don’t give in to triggers
- check your thoughts and attitudes, so you lessen the tension
If you know who you want to talk to (these folks are your friends, family, and colleagues, right?), then you can prepare. We’ll talk about:
- where to find facts you can trust
- how to keep your thoughts simple
- not asking for free emotional labor from others
Undo the Work
Being prepared and having the facts can set you up for success. And you can do more in the moment with:
- simple talking points
- incremental steps
- pausing, but not stopping
Take a Breath
After the flood of emotions and adrenaline from getting outside your comfort zone, give your body and mind a break. You can:
- rest so your mind and body can recover
- celebrate that you tried and what went well
- rest and rejoice now on your own terms to avoid crashing later
If you hesitate to challenge the oppressive behavior of your friends and family, get tongue-tied when you try to speak up for social justice and human rights, want your (grand)children to see you model brave and just behavior so they grow up unafraid to stand up for human rights, then join the folks who are already using this method to have conversations they’ve been avoiding for years. Early bird pricing is available through April 25, so register today!
Ready to DO something right now? Download the Everyday Activism Action Pack and get started today.
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