Humane Strategies for Challenging Conversations

Humane Strategies for Challenging Conversations

By Kristina Hulvershorn
If our definition of “humane” means that we are aspiring to reflect the best traits of human beings, how in the world do we handle a conversation with Uncle Jerry on Thanksgiving when he brings out our worst?  There are no easy answers, but in my work with restorative justice and conflict resolution, I am always learning and realizing better ways to tackle tough conversations. Here are a few tried-and-true strategies.  
Explicitly state your intent not to judge.  Imagine you are a person who is feeling judged because, for example, a humane educator is asking you to think about trash in the oceans.  You may feel uncomfortable because you think you are about to be shamed for using a straw or for eating fish. That defensiveness can lead to shutting down or any number of other communication-stoppers.  Many of us have learned that by saying something along …

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