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Crane Country Day Courageous Conversations


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Talking about topics like gender, race, sexual orientation, and class can raise anxiety for many people, and yet we must have the conversation in our schools and our lives in order to be more inclusive and change the world for the better. What are the fears and common pitfalls that keep us from broaching courageous conversations? Gain practical skills for responding to hurtful experiences and facilitating courageous conversations.

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Crane Country Day Courageous Conversations

  1. 1. Crane Country Day School Rosetta Eun Ryong Lee Seattle Girls’ School Safe to Brave: Engaging in Courageous Conversations Rosetta Eun Ryong Lee (
  2. 2. About Seattle Girls’ School Rosetta Eun Ryong Lee (
  3. 3. Agenda  Safe Versus Brave  Interrupting with Care  Courageous Conversations  Resources and Tools  Questions and Answers Rosetta Eun Ryong Lee (
  4. 4. Engaging in Courageous Conversations Rosetta Eun Ryong Lee (
  5. 5. Safety Versus Comfort Safety: I feel that, in this space, I can ask questions without fear of judgment. I can voice my perspective and know that I will be validated for the fact that that is my truth. Others may challenge my ideas, but that challenge is in the spirit of greater shared understanding and growth. Comfort: I feel that, in this space, my reality will be agreed with, validated, and unchallenged. I don’t have to explain myself to be understood, and I don’t have to justify my perspective, as everyone shares it. True dialogue happens in an environment where everyone is safe but not always comfortable... SO THAT THEY CAN LEARN AND GROW. Rosetta Eun Ryong Lee (
  6. 6. Moving Conversations from Safe to Brave  Controversy with Civility  Ownership of intent and impact  Challenge by choice – with reflection  Respect in all its multiplicity  Pointed challenges, not personal attacks  Mindfulness of the true source of emotions Rosetta Eun Ryong Lee (
  7. 7. Debunking Some Myths Rosetta Eun Ryong Lee (  All or None  Mistakes  Apologies  “Tonsils” Theory  Vulnerability
  8. 8. Growing Through Iterations William Taylor’s Reflective Competence Model Rosetta Eun Ryong Lee (
  9. 9. Reflection: Courageous Conversations What are some of your challenges for authentic dialogue? How might you move into more courageous conversations? Rosetta Eun Ryong Lee (
  10. 10. Interrupting with Care Rosetta Eun Ryong Lee (
  11. 11. Speaking From the Heart Rosetta Eun Ryong Lee (
  12. 12. Rosetta Eun Ryong Lee ( Can you lean on the relationship? Can you make it personal? * Is your relationship hierarchical? *
  13. 13. Being A DEAR  Affirm the person or relationship  Describe the behavior without judgment  Explain the emotion/impact and your filters  Assume positive intent  Request or suggest different behavior *** Key Points: timing, I statements, actions not adjectives, inside feelings not outside feelings*** Rosetta Eun Ryong Lee (
  14. 14. Being A DEAR: An Example I think you and I both agree we all have a right to be respected and heard in this community. When we were disagreeing about budgets, you said, “You’re being overdramatic,” and later, you called me a “drama queen.” Statements like this make it sound like I am being too emotional and that my concerns are drama rather than real issues. I am assuming you don’t intend to police my tone or dismiss my concerns. I would appreciate your not saying things like this anymore. Thank you. Rosetta Eun Ryong Lee (
  15. 15. Being A Witness Rosetta Eun Ryong Lee (
  16. 16. Are you speaking to the agent or the audience? Do you want to minimize harm to the target group? Do you want to educate? Do you want to challenge social norms? Rosetta Eun Ryong Lee (
  17. 17. NCBI Effective Interventions Model  Reduce Defensiveness – Tone – Body Language – Respect  Keep the Conversation Going – Hear Them Out – Ask Open-Ended Questions – Set Aside Your Feeling for the Moment – Dialogue  Build the Relationship  Stop the Behavior  Win an Ally Rosetta Eun Ryong Lee (
  18. 18. Active Witnessing: Examples  Ask open ended questions – “He looked suspicious” – “How did he look? How was he acting? Why was that suspicious?”  Find out the experience motivating the comment – “Why can’t they just speak English around here?” – “It must be hard not to understand what people are saying around you.” – “I’m sick of my taxes paying for freeloaders” – “Tell me more about about that.”  Use exaggerated humor to highlight what’s going on (use sparingly) – “You’re gay – what do gay people think about this issue?” – “I’m not sure – I’ll go ask. It may take me a while, since there are a million people.”  Join the person and do not make yourself superior – “She got that award because she’s Black and female.” – “You know, I hear that a lot. I’ve been trying to figure out why we seem to think when a Black woman gets recognized it must be because of ‘diversity’ or ‘affirmative action’ reasons rather than that she earned it.” Rosetta Eun Ryong Lee (
  19. 19. Listening to the Real Message Rosetta Eun Ryong Lee (
  20. 20. Rosetta Eun Ryong Lee ( Is this about what you did or who you are (guilt or shame)? What is your mindset voice telling you? Might this be an opportunity to learn and grow?
  21. 21. Listening and Responding Bravely  Listen with full attention  Don’t try to defend or respond right away – Take deep breaths – Acknowledge your feelings  Your mistakes don’t define you – Be worthy of their trust and gift  Prioritize the Impact over Intent – Apologize for real *** Moving through these moments with grace is called shame resilience. It’s a vital skill*** Rosetta Eun Ryong Lee (
  22. 22. Listening and Responding: Examples Rosetta Eun Ryong Lee (  “I really appreciate your telling me this.”  “I’m so embarrassed that I did that.”  “I’m so sorry my words and actions made you feel that way. No matter what I intended, it hurt you.”  “I’m pretty overwhelmed right now, and I don’t want to respond in a way I’d regret. After I take a few minutes, do you think you can help me come up with a better way to handle that situation?”  “I wanted to go back to a moment I don’t think I handled very well… Can we talk?”
  23. 23. Process Break How might you use these tools in your everyday life and more? What questions or concerns come up? Rosetta Eun Ryong Lee (
  24. 24. What About Group Conversations? Rosetta Eun Ryong Lee (
  25. 25. Fears and Anxieties that Keep Us from Having Conversations  Offending  Losing Face  Tokenism  Social Risk  Bursting the Bubble  Rocking the Boat  Conflict  Lack of “Authority” Rosetta Eun Ryong Lee (
  26. 26. Pitfalls and Obstacles that Keep Us from Conversing Again  Outbursts  Silence  Denial  The Good Talk  Teacher vs. Facilitator  Personal Attacks  The Quick Fix  Leadership Oppression Rosetta Eun Ryong Lee (
  27. 27. Learning Zones and Performing Zones Learning Zone: You engage deeply in the areas of weakness. You actively seek new information, strategies, and feedback for adoption. You embrace mistakes in this low-stakes environment. Performing Zone: You showcase your areas of strength (e.g. a competition routine). You engage in new information, strategies, and feedback in relation to your current thinking (e.g. PhD defense). You minimize mistakes in this potentially high-stakes environment. Make sure you know what zone you’re in SO THAT YOU CAN MAXIMIZE THE BENEFITS OF THAT SPACE. Rosetta Eun Ryong Lee (
  28. 28. Comparing Dialogue and Debate  Dialogue is collaborative. Debate is oppositional.  In dialogue, one listens in order to understand and find meaning. In debate, one listens in order to find flaws and to counter arguments.  Dialogue reveals assumptions for reevaluation. Debate defends assumptions as truth.  Dialogue calls for temporarily suspending one’s beliefs. Debate calls for investing wholeheartedly into one’s beliefs.  In dialogue, one searches for basic agreements. In debate, one searches for glaring differences.  Dialogue remains open-ended. Debate implies a conclusion. Rosetta Eun Ryong Lee ( Adapted from Shelley Bennan, Dialogue Group, Boston Chapter, Educators for Social Responsibility
  29. 29. Polarity Thinking Cognition marked by flexibility and elasticity that enables individuals to recognize and navigate the countless opposing yet interdependent energies that manifest in all life. Polarity thinking transforms ‘either/or’ contrasts into ‘both/and’ formulations that allow for mutually-satisfying, stable, and predictable gains in personal and professional life. Rosetta Eun Ryong Lee ( Caroline Blackwell, National Association of Independent Schools
  30. 30. Polarities, Not Binaries  Equality and Equity  Free Speech and Inclusive Speech  Diversity and Inclusion  Diversity and Unity  Systems Work and Individual Work  Calling Out and Calling In  Heat (protests, disruption, opposition) and Light (education, patience, collaboration)  Safety and Bravery  Accommodation and Assimilation  Change and Tradition Rosetta Eun Ryong Lee (
  31. 31. Polarity Mapping Rosetta Eun Ryong Lee ( Caroline Blackwell, National Association of Independent Schools
  32. 32. Engaging Across Differences  Be willing to sit in the gray areas  Be willing to be uncomfortable  Be willing to be vulnerable  Be willing to extend trust and earn trust  Be willing to listen fully  Be willing to continue the conversation  Be willing to believe we need each other Rosetta Eun Ryong Lee (
  33. 33. Process Break How might you use these frameworks in your everyday life and more? What questions or concerns come up? Rosetta Eun Ryong Lee (
  34. 34. Inclusive Communities Rosetta Eun Ryong Lee (
  35. 35. Presenter Information Rosetta Eun Ryong Lee 6th Faculty and Professional Outreach Seattle Girls’ School 2706 S Jackson Street Seattle WA 98144 (206) 805-6562 Rosetta Eun Ryong Lee (