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How to Have Difficult
Conversations
Morgan Meneses-Sheets
Rev. Rob Keithan
November 2015
Welcome
• Allison Glass, State Director, Healthy and Free TN
Looking at the Issues &
Tips for Talking About Them
Morgan Meneses-Sheets
Communications and Messaging Strategist
and consultant with Healthy and Free TN
Politics and Religion
• Tips for family and friends, our everyday lives and activist work.
• We don’t have to avoid talking about things we care about.
So what are we working on?
• Leading the campaign to get rid of the pregnancy criminalization law.
• Modernizing laws dealing with HIV status or that criminalize people
living with HIV or AIDS.
• Opposing limits on abortion access.
• Working in collaboration to build support for comprehensive sex
education.
AND: paid leave, Pregnant Worker Fairness Act, non-discrimination protections
Pregnancy Criminalization
• Women are being forced into the criminal justice system simply because they have no other
option. There are not enough programs that are willing or able to treat pregnant women.
• Policies that use fear and coercion to push people to seek treatment go against the
recommendations of health professionals who have worked with women in recovery.
• We should not put our criminal justice system in the position of creating health policy.
• This law does not help women who live in communities where it is difficult and expensive to
seek rehabilitation.
• The cost of treatment is just a fraction of the cost of jailing someone.
• We should urge our decision makers to focus on expanding access to effective treatment
options instead of separating families and jailing mothers.
Modernizing Laws Dealing with HIV Status
• Tennessee is has one of the highest rates of new HIV/AIDS diagnoses. We need to focus on
ensuring people have access to the health care and support that they need.
• We need to look at how to make drug protocols more manageable, affordable and ensure that
programs aimed at prevention are not meeting the needs or connecting with many marginalized
communities.
• Tennessee has criminal laws that punish people for exposing another person to HIV, even in the
absence of actual HIV transmission or even a risk that transmission could occur.
• We must eliminate stigma and create strong, integrated health systems to ensure that people living
with and those who are vulnerable to HIV infection receive high quality services for sexual and
reproductive health.
• People affected by HIV and AIDS should also be included in the creation of medical standards,
protocols and public policies related to their health and their lives.
Oppose Restrictions on Abortion
• Decisions about pregnancy, relationships, parenting and abortion are personal. It is not our place
to make these decisions for someone else.
• When medically unnecessary restrictions or false accusations result in health centers not being able
to provide services it has a harmful impact on women and families in our state.
• Whether a person chooses adoption, seeks abortion or is ready to become a parent they need to
have access to affordable health services.
• We should make sure that people can access contraception to plan their families and seek abortion
when they need to, as well as advancing policies that help people to become parents and raise their
children
• Abortion is a well-regulated procedure with well established, evidence-based guidelines for care.
Pushing medically unnecessary restrictions on services has nothing to do with safety.
• We know that low-income women, immigrant women, young people and women of color are hit
hardest by the limitations on abortion.
• Some politicians don’t want abortion to be available, so they make erroneous claims about its
safety in order to push for laws that are specifically designed to make care more expensive for
individuals and to make it harder for health professionals to provide services.
Comprehensive Health and Sexuality Education in TN Schools
• We believe that all Tennesseans, including and especially young people, should have access
to accurate and complete information about sexual and reproductive health.
• Providing age-appropriate, medically accurate information helps young people manage their
sexual health and prevent unintended pregnancy.
• The evidence shows that comprehensive sex education programs are highly effective, but
Tennessee legislators insist on mandating abstinence-only education.
• Programs that do not provide comprehensive information to young people in order to
support healthy decision making is out of step with national standards.
• We should make sure that young people have the information they need to make the best
choices possible for their health and their relationships.
We are proud to work in partnership on a myriad of other issues.
Find out more about the Pregnant Workers’ Fairness Act and the efforts to advance paid leave in
Tennessee by visiting A Better Balance who is leading the efforts.
The Tennessee Equality Project (TEP) and the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition (TTPC)
are working to advance anti-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation and
gender identity and advance programs and policies to support lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transgender Tennesseans.
Telling the larger story.
• We are working to ensure every Tennessean has access to the health care they
need.
• We are committed to meeting the needs of women and families.
• We are working to protect reproductive freedom and the ability for each person
to make their own decisions about pregnancy, parenting and abortion.
• We are urging lawmakers to advance forward thinking policies to address the
serious issues facing our state.
Don’t assume it will be a divisive debate.
• Sometimes people just don’t have the information or have never talked to
anyone about these kinds of issues. Ignorance can be mean spirited, but
sometimes it just means a lack of exposure to information or other people.
• How we approach a conversation makes a different in how people respond
and how open they are to listening. If we assume that people will argue with
us or approach with our guard up, that makes a difference.
Even if we disagree…
We can all agree..
Some people may be conflicted..
There is a lot of confusion..
I know people are concerned/understand people are..
I hear that you have strong feelings…
I respect that we have different opinions…
Neutralizing Difficulty --- or at least helping to ease conflict
• Even if we disagree with the decision to seek abortion, it is important that people have
access to the health care they need to protect their health.
• We can all agree that if someone is struggling with a health problem that they need
support and access to health care, not judgment and certainly not jail.
• There is a lot of confusion about neonatal abstinence syndrome and there are a lot of
myths.
• I hear that you have strong feelings about pregnancy and abortion.
• I respect that we have different opinions about abortion and that we both feel strongly.
• Some people are uncomfortable about drug use during pregnancy, but we have to put
judgment aside and support women and families by pushing for access to treatment.
Words Matter
• Educate – Share information.
• Connect – Help people understand why the issue(s) matter.
• Shift – Shape the tone of the discussion.
• Stick to values. Don’t jump to statistics. Talk about what the
issues mean to you and what they are really about.
• You do not have to prove you are the smartest person in the
room by using acronyms or too many wonky details).
• Avoid right/wrong wording that makes people feel like they
have to be with you or against you.
• Don’t imply people who disagree with your opinion or belief
are awful or uncaring.
Make it personal – for you.
• You and I, we, us, a person, a family
• I believe, what I know, what I feel
• For me the point is, what I try to remember is, what people may
not know
“Agree to Disagree”
• Avoiding, inciting or moving through conflict.
Questions and Comments
Faith and Religion
• The work that we are doing is based in values and has moral value.
• The challenge is how to engage at these intersections of beliefs, opinions,
emotions and at times agendas.
Tips on Conversations
for Long-Term Change
Assembled by Rev.
Rob Keithan
Faith Organizing and Training Consultant
Different Goals
•Let go of winning
•Make a good impression
•Leave them with one thing
Believe in the Process
•Slow does not mean unimportant
•Slow does not mean ineffective
These conversations are a critical part of
social change!
A Different Attitude
•Take a step back from anger and urgency
•Cultivate patience
•Think of it as an emotional/spiritual
discipline—it requires intention and hard
work
How To Get There
1. Show Respect
2. Learn
3. Express your own views well
1. Show Respect
•Listening
•Body Language
•Tone
2. Learn
•Listen
•Ask good questions
•Be curious, not furious
3. Express Your Own Views Well
• Body Language
• Tone
• Speak for yourself
• Emphasize the why
• Be concise
Defining Success:
It’s about what YOU do.
1. Show Respect
2.Learn
3.Express Your Own Views Well
Listen + Body Language + Tone + Ask good questions + Be curious,
not furious + Speak for yourself + Emphasize the why + Be concise
When Needed: Assert Yourself
If your conversation partner(s) are not
showing you sufficient respect, gently and
firmly ask for it.
Ex: “Uncle Joe, I listened to you, so could you
please listen to me?”
Remember
•These conversations as a critical part of
social change!
•Think of it as an emotional/spiritual
discipline—it requires intention and hard
work
Reflection Questions
• Which of these approaches will be easiest for you,
and why?
• Which will be hardest and why?
• What do you need to do to cultivate patience?
• Does any of this guidance not fit in your cultural
context?
• Be easy on yourself
• Be patient
• Have love
• Have fun
• Good luck!
Closing Thoughts from Rob
Questions and Comments
Wrapping Up – Allison
• What’s next?
• Announcements and opportunities to get involved.
Stay in Touch. Keep the conversation going..
Rob Keithan
robkeithan@gmail.com
Morgan Meneses-Sheets
morgan@steadfaststrategies.com
Allison Glass
allison@healthyandfreetn.org

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How to Have Difficult Conversations: Notes Nov 2015

  • 1. How to Have Difficult Conversations Morgan Meneses-Sheets Rev. Rob Keithan November 2015
  • 2. Welcome • Allison Glass, State Director, Healthy and Free TN
  • 3. Looking at the Issues & Tips for Talking About Them Morgan Meneses-Sheets Communications and Messaging Strategist and consultant with Healthy and Free TN
  • 4. Politics and Religion • Tips for family and friends, our everyday lives and activist work. • We don’t have to avoid talking about things we care about.
  • 5. So what are we working on? • Leading the campaign to get rid of the pregnancy criminalization law. • Modernizing laws dealing with HIV status or that criminalize people living with HIV or AIDS. • Opposing limits on abortion access. • Working in collaboration to build support for comprehensive sex education. AND: paid leave, Pregnant Worker Fairness Act, non-discrimination protections
  • 6. Pregnancy Criminalization • Women are being forced into the criminal justice system simply because they have no other option. There are not enough programs that are willing or able to treat pregnant women. • Policies that use fear and coercion to push people to seek treatment go against the recommendations of health professionals who have worked with women in recovery. • We should not put our criminal justice system in the position of creating health policy. • This law does not help women who live in communities where it is difficult and expensive to seek rehabilitation. • The cost of treatment is just a fraction of the cost of jailing someone. • We should urge our decision makers to focus on expanding access to effective treatment options instead of separating families and jailing mothers.
  • 7. Modernizing Laws Dealing with HIV Status • Tennessee is has one of the highest rates of new HIV/AIDS diagnoses. We need to focus on ensuring people have access to the health care and support that they need. • We need to look at how to make drug protocols more manageable, affordable and ensure that programs aimed at prevention are not meeting the needs or connecting with many marginalized communities. • Tennessee has criminal laws that punish people for exposing another person to HIV, even in the absence of actual HIV transmission or even a risk that transmission could occur. • We must eliminate stigma and create strong, integrated health systems to ensure that people living with and those who are vulnerable to HIV infection receive high quality services for sexual and reproductive health. • People affected by HIV and AIDS should also be included in the creation of medical standards, protocols and public policies related to their health and their lives.
  • 8. Oppose Restrictions on Abortion • Decisions about pregnancy, relationships, parenting and abortion are personal. It is not our place to make these decisions for someone else. • When medically unnecessary restrictions or false accusations result in health centers not being able to provide services it has a harmful impact on women and families in our state. • Whether a person chooses adoption, seeks abortion or is ready to become a parent they need to have access to affordable health services. • We should make sure that people can access contraception to plan their families and seek abortion when they need to, as well as advancing policies that help people to become parents and raise their children • Abortion is a well-regulated procedure with well established, evidence-based guidelines for care. Pushing medically unnecessary restrictions on services has nothing to do with safety. • We know that low-income women, immigrant women, young people and women of color are hit hardest by the limitations on abortion. • Some politicians don’t want abortion to be available, so they make erroneous claims about its safety in order to push for laws that are specifically designed to make care more expensive for individuals and to make it harder for health professionals to provide services.
  • 9. Comprehensive Health and Sexuality Education in TN Schools • We believe that all Tennesseans, including and especially young people, should have access to accurate and complete information about sexual and reproductive health. • Providing age-appropriate, medically accurate information helps young people manage their sexual health and prevent unintended pregnancy. • The evidence shows that comprehensive sex education programs are highly effective, but Tennessee legislators insist on mandating abstinence-only education. • Programs that do not provide comprehensive information to young people in order to support healthy decision making is out of step with national standards. • We should make sure that young people have the information they need to make the best choices possible for their health and their relationships.
  • 10. We are proud to work in partnership on a myriad of other issues. Find out more about the Pregnant Workers’ Fairness Act and the efforts to advance paid leave in Tennessee by visiting A Better Balance who is leading the efforts. The Tennessee Equality Project (TEP) and the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition (TTPC) are working to advance anti-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity and advance programs and policies to support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Tennesseans.
  • 11. Telling the larger story. • We are working to ensure every Tennessean has access to the health care they need. • We are committed to meeting the needs of women and families. • We are working to protect reproductive freedom and the ability for each person to make their own decisions about pregnancy, parenting and abortion. • We are urging lawmakers to advance forward thinking policies to address the serious issues facing our state.
  • 12. Don’t assume it will be a divisive debate. • Sometimes people just don’t have the information or have never talked to anyone about these kinds of issues. Ignorance can be mean spirited, but sometimes it just means a lack of exposure to information or other people. • How we approach a conversation makes a different in how people respond and how open they are to listening. If we assume that people will argue with us or approach with our guard up, that makes a difference.
  • 13. Even if we disagree… We can all agree.. Some people may be conflicted.. There is a lot of confusion.. I know people are concerned/understand people are.. I hear that you have strong feelings… I respect that we have different opinions… Neutralizing Difficulty --- or at least helping to ease conflict
  • 14. • Even if we disagree with the decision to seek abortion, it is important that people have access to the health care they need to protect their health. • We can all agree that if someone is struggling with a health problem that they need support and access to health care, not judgment and certainly not jail. • There is a lot of confusion about neonatal abstinence syndrome and there are a lot of myths. • I hear that you have strong feelings about pregnancy and abortion. • I respect that we have different opinions about abortion and that we both feel strongly. • Some people are uncomfortable about drug use during pregnancy, but we have to put judgment aside and support women and families by pushing for access to treatment.
  • 15. Words Matter • Educate – Share information. • Connect – Help people understand why the issue(s) matter. • Shift – Shape the tone of the discussion.
  • 16. • Stick to values. Don’t jump to statistics. Talk about what the issues mean to you and what they are really about. • You do not have to prove you are the smartest person in the room by using acronyms or too many wonky details). • Avoid right/wrong wording that makes people feel like they have to be with you or against you. • Don’t imply people who disagree with your opinion or belief are awful or uncaring.
  • 17. Make it personal – for you. • You and I, we, us, a person, a family • I believe, what I know, what I feel • For me the point is, what I try to remember is, what people may not know
  • 18. “Agree to Disagree” • Avoiding, inciting or moving through conflict.
  • 20. Faith and Religion • The work that we are doing is based in values and has moral value. • The challenge is how to engage at these intersections of beliefs, opinions, emotions and at times agendas.
  • 21. Tips on Conversations for Long-Term Change Assembled by Rev. Rob Keithan Faith Organizing and Training Consultant
  • 22. Different Goals •Let go of winning •Make a good impression •Leave them with one thing
  • 23. Believe in the Process •Slow does not mean unimportant •Slow does not mean ineffective These conversations are a critical part of social change!
  • 24. A Different Attitude •Take a step back from anger and urgency •Cultivate patience •Think of it as an emotional/spiritual discipline—it requires intention and hard work
  • 25. How To Get There 1. Show Respect 2. Learn 3. Express your own views well
  • 27. 2. Learn •Listen •Ask good questions •Be curious, not furious
  • 28. 3. Express Your Own Views Well • Body Language • Tone • Speak for yourself • Emphasize the why • Be concise
  • 29. Defining Success: It’s about what YOU do. 1. Show Respect 2.Learn 3.Express Your Own Views Well Listen + Body Language + Tone + Ask good questions + Be curious, not furious + Speak for yourself + Emphasize the why + Be concise
  • 30. When Needed: Assert Yourself If your conversation partner(s) are not showing you sufficient respect, gently and firmly ask for it. Ex: “Uncle Joe, I listened to you, so could you please listen to me?”
  • 31. Remember •These conversations as a critical part of social change! •Think of it as an emotional/spiritual discipline—it requires intention and hard work
  • 32. Reflection Questions • Which of these approaches will be easiest for you, and why? • Which will be hardest and why? • What do you need to do to cultivate patience? • Does any of this guidance not fit in your cultural context?
  • 33. • Be easy on yourself • Be patient • Have love • Have fun • Good luck! Closing Thoughts from Rob
  • 35. Wrapping Up – Allison • What’s next? • Announcements and opportunities to get involved.
  • 36. Stay in Touch. Keep the conversation going.. Rob Keithan robkeithan@gmail.com Morgan Meneses-Sheets morgan@steadfaststrategies.com Allison Glass allison@healthyandfreetn.org