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Tip of the Week: Say It In a Different Way

January 30, 2023, The Association

Having a challenging conversation or disagreement with someone? With a simple turn of phrase, you can begin to understand where that person is coming from.

Us vs. Them thinking is easy. It’s human nature to see someone who calls our values and identities into question as the Other. In a few words, you can override that response and seek common ground.

In their recent webinar, Breaking Down “Us Vs. Them Thinking” To Build Stronger Connections, Jasmin Robinson and Maria Marukian passed on a simple phrase you can use in challenging conversations that feel uncomfortable, particularly with those who have opposing viewpoints or different lived experiences than you.

Instead of:
What do you mean by that?

When you say __________, what does it mean to you?

Notice a difference in potential impact. “What did you mean by that?’ can sometimes cause people to get a little defensive.

But, as Marukian and Robinson explain, “Asking someone, ‘What does it mean to you?’ encourages that person to share their story and their ‘why?,’ and helps you understand how they are looking at the situation.”

It’s a great first step to find common ground—and allows you to have some thoughtful conversation around how you differ.

What words might you choose in a similar situation? Let us know what’s working for you.

The webinar this tip is taken from is part of the DEI Dozen, 13 webinars held throughout the year that will support you as a leader and changemaker. Next up in the series is Responding to Subtle Acts of Exclusion & Microaggressions, taking place this Wednesday, February 1. Learn more and register here.

More Tips of the Week

Tip of the Week: One for Good Measure
Tip of the Week: High-Volume TNR Program Interest Group
Tip of the Week: It Must Be Your Personality
Tip of the Week: Screen Test

About The Association
The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement is a cohort of leaders on a mission to champion, advance, and unify the animal welfare profession.

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