Chapter 10 – Engage around Contentious Issues

Sketchnote by Amelia Buchanan

5 Questions to Reflect

  1. What are some of the contentious issues facing your community?
  2. What concerns do you have about engaging others around contentious issues?
  3. How do you ground yourself to face the situation?
  4. Reflecting on this chapter, how could you design that time to provide meaningful dialogue that results in improvement in this area:
    • Design Meaningful Experiences (thoughtful design, clear expectations, varied activities)
    • Tell Your Story (well-rounded/grounded info, transparency, bring in experts, focus on kids)
    • Engage in Meaningful Discussion & Feedback (framing the discussion, opportunities for dialogue, mechanisms for feedback, acknowledge difficult topics)
    • Follow-Up (discuss next steps, gather feedback, continue communicating)
  5. How does having a framework to engage others help you think about thriving in the 5%?

5 Tips to Thrive

  1. The next time you find yourself in a contentious conversation, shut down your automatic defenses and try these powerful words: Tell me more.
  2. When planning for a community event, be intentional about ways to foster dialogue. That includes how you seat people, how you collect feedback and how you structure the content and activities.
  3. When sharing information around a contentious issue, remember to be transparent. Share the great things you are doing in that area and the tangible steps you’ve already taken. But also share the shortcomings and areas you’re targeting for the future.
  4. Know that we won’t always handle contention well. Reflect on tough conversations. Admit when things didn’t go well. Make amends.
  5. Be sure to follow up after major meetings and events. It’s not enough that you know everything you’re doing. You have to communicate those steps with your community at large.

5 Resources to Dig Deeper

  1. NEWS: Amanda Morris – In #ArmMeWith movement, teachers ask to be armed — but not with guns
  2. VIDEO: Sandy Hook PromiseKnowing the Signs of Gun Violence video
  3. BOOK: Kindra Hall – Stories That Stick: How Storytelling Can Captivate Customers, Influence Audiences and Transform Your Business
  4. INTERVIEW: Jenn Brown – The Art of Listening: An Interview with Harville Hendix and Helen LaKelly Hunt
  5. ARTICLE: Paul Axtell – Two Things to Do After Every Meeting