When I mentioned to my mother that I was offering a workshop on how to approach “the vaccine conversation” nonviolently, she laughingly empathized with, “Oh my, you’ve just put yourself in the middle of a hornet’s nest.”
It certainly feels that way.
When issues of safety, survival, and personal liberty arise, so much of our own unhealed inner work can get triggered, and it’s incredibly tempting to try to fix what is “in here” by changing what is “out there.”
People get so focused on fighting, judging, controlling, coercing, dismissing, and devaluing each other that each side unwittingly sabotages their efforts to influence one another, to build understanding, or to find a way forward, together.
Arguments don’t change people’s minds.
Self-righteousness doesn’t inspire people to reconsider their deeply held beliefs.
Judgmental, critical, and forceful strategies don’t lead to high-quality, sustainable solutions. At most, they lead to temporary submission coupled with simmering resentment.
And, as Justin Lee points out, “Echo chambers don’t just nurture conformity; they also nurture extremism.”
So, what might we do instead?
Own our inner work: We cannot be in true dialogue with one another until each of us takes responsibility for our fears, our vulnerabilities, our limited knowledge, our emerging understandings, our personal triggers, and our deep values. What deep values is this conversation surfacing for you? What values are you deprioritizing in favor of others? What deep longing and vision are you wanting to serve for the future?
Be willing to be influenced: Everyone thinks they are right. When we come into a conversation certain that we are the only one with the right answer, the right strategy, the correct path forward, and we want to impose that upon all those other (dumb) people, we are unlikely to build any real understanding with others.
Be willing to share ourselves vulnerably: Lies are simple and truth is complex. Instead of getting caught up in sound bites and ideology that oversimplifies and obscures conversations, keep it personal and relational. We can focus on sharing our (ever-evolving) beliefs, our feelings, our fears, our desires and values, and importantly, also our not-knowings.
Even though we live in polarized, divisive times, we have the power to offer a relational, curious, engaged spirit in our conversations with others.
We can focus on both the inner transformation, healing, and growing-up work that we are each able to do individually.
We can skill-up our capacity to engage in the critically important dialogue and cultural change work needed for a healthy, sustainable, peaceful, compassionate global community.
We can learn new moves, new skills, and new scripts for having relationally and emotionally intelligent conversations that bridge the divides.
And you can get the practical tools, strategies, and scripts you need to do just that through my next live, online workshop.
You’re welcome to register now for How to Have Difficult Conversations: Vaccine Edition, an online self-paced workshop.
I’ll walk you through the five main barriers to having a successful conversation and how to dismantle each one of them in nonviolent, relational ways. You’ll ground yourself in a new process for having these conversations with compassion, clarity, confidence, and choicefulness.
What the workshop covers:
How to Prepare for a Successful Dialogue: Emotional Readiness and Self-Trust
The 5 Main Barriers to “getting through” to one another, combined with practical interventions and new moves to overcome each of them.
Locating the Conversation – what are we “really” talking about?
The Magic Question you can ask to redirect any disagreement
What it doesn’t cover:
It doesn’t address the pros or cons of various ideological positions, the “facts and figures” or “research” or “data.”
It doesn’t arguing positions about vaccines.
There’s no debating or discussing “(mis)information.” (But you do get some tips and scripts to help you address falsehoods and misinformation that you encounter.)
WANT TO GO DEEPER IN THIS WORK?
Here are a few of my programs that might be of interest to you: