The Transition Network

DIFFICULT CONVERSATIONS - SPEAK UP AND SPEAK OUT - HOW TO BE A GOOD ALLY


A relative says something you feel is racist or a friend tells inappropriate jokes.  Why is it so hard to speak up; to be an ally? 

Small, facilitated breakout groups have offered Boston members the opportunity to share stories, discuss, and brainstorm responses to such awkward moments. Facilitators introduce sample scenarios, offer tips and tools and additional techniques for “speaking up and speaking out” during these difficult conversations.
 

Sample Scenarios


Scenario One – Confederate Statues
  1. Explain why something is hurtful, put in someone else's shoes
  2. Connect – Find the violence disturbing as well.  Try to understand the anger and hurt that is being felt. 
  3. Ask them to further explain what you mean by that?   Clarify their stance.  What they say may not reflect their intent and they may not realize the impact. (Mishear? Misunderstand?)
  4. What experience led you to believe that?  (What do they believe the statues represent in history – explore – why do they think the war was fought?)
  5. Understand their sources of information and recommend additional options to broaden their views. Perhaps you do the same?
  6. Talk about how their comments are impacting you and how you feel- use 'I' statements.  (versus calling them out, pointing a finger, calling them uninformed or lecturing them)  ex. I feel sad for blacks who see this symbol as a reminder of slavery and the pain their grandparents endured – and have to look at it every day.
  7. Walk in someone else's shoes – If this was happening to you, what would you do?  What if your children were not safe?   (What if you were a jewish child in Germany and there was a Hitler statue in the town square?  How would you feel?)
  8. Be prepared.  If you don't know a stat, don't make it up.   (1500+ confederate memorials in the south.   Although war ended in 1865 - The peak in construction of Civil War Monuments occurred between the late 1890s up to 1920, with a second, smaller peak in the late 1950s to mid1960s.  Why then?)
  9. Listen!  Giving them that respect may yield respect for what you say.  If they feel understood, they may be more receptive to hearing what others have to say. (and gives you insight on counter arguments).  Repeat their words back.
 
Scenario Two – Low Income Housing
  1. Connect before you correct.
Ex.   I too do not want my house value to drop. It makes me sad to think that it could be an outcome just because of the skin color you were born with.  I feel there could be some significant opportunities for our children to have more diverse friends and start reducing some of the fears and biases.
 
Ex.  Desire for a good life and family safety. 
 
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Tips, Techniques, Strategies in Difficult Conversations
  1. When we were growing up, we were never allowed to say that.  Our parent wanted us to respect differences.
  2. Connect before you correct.
  3. I know we used to joke like that, but I have changed, and learned from a friend how painful it can be, so I try not to speak that way.
  4. Can a sibling help deliver the message?
  5. Do not allow in your home, not good role model to the kids
  6. Explain why something is hurtful, put in someone else's shoes
  7. Role model behavior/language. (That black saleswoman – repeat back without racial descriptor -what did the saleswoman say?)
  8. Agree to disagree but stand firm
  9. Might be easier to put in writing later
  10. Take offender person aside for 1:1. Talk to them quietly. What you said before has been sitting with me and I want to talk to you about it.  Regarding that stereotypical comment, that has not been my experience.
  11. Ask what is so funny or to clarify a term and make them explain
  12. Respond with protracted silence and wait to be asked what is wrong
  13. Focus questions on behavior not beliefs
  14. Apologize immediately if you mis-speak
  15. Explain what you mean by that?   Clarify their stance.  What they say may not reflect their intent and they may not realize the impact. (Mishear? Misunderstand?)
  16. What experience led you to believe that?
  17. Understand their sources of information and recommend additional options to broaden their views. Perhaps you do the same?
  18. Talk about how their comments are impacting you and how you feel- use 'I' statements.  (Versus calling them out, pointing finger, calling them uninformed or lecturing them)
  19. Walk in someone else's shoes – If this were happening to you, what would you do? What if your children were not safe? 
  20. Do not be too aggressive.  No lectures. 
  21. Listen!  Giving them that respect may yield respect for what you say.  If they feel understood, they may be more receptive to hearing what others have to say. (And gives you insight on counter arguments).  Repeat their words back.
  22. If they concede to your point, note that.  “I appreciate that you recognize....”
  23. Be prepared.  If you do not know a stat, do not make it up. 
  24. Stay calm.  Do not interrupt.  If you are ready to explode, go to the restroom.
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Additional Techniques - The Race Method At a Glance

REFLECT
  • Do your preparation to be a listening mode
  • Reflect on your own experiences that illustrate your own journey as an ally.
ASK
  • Probe the skeptic about their beliefs and the experiences that drive those beliefs
CONNECT
  • Offer your own experiences that are likely to have some resonance with them
EXPAND
  • Raise questions that open possibilities for a broader view
  • Offer your experience that suggest a broader view of race than they have now
  • Encourage the skeptic to consider a broader view and more conversation
  • Highlight data, facts, or illustrations that support a broader view (probably a subsequent conversation)

Underpinnings
  1. Starting with their own experiences
  2. Moving to other people's experiences
  3. Raising questions about why people's experiences are similar and different

 

Material from www.thetransitionnetwork.org, 15:52:42 September 28, 2021.
Copyright © The Transition Network 2021