When we encounter people who reveal biased attitudes or behaviors, what do we do? Do we “call them in” for conversation, or “call them out” for prejudice, or both? How can we invite learning & growth without shaming? How can we receive feedback ourselves on our own blind spots? In March, 2021 Rev. Dr. Zina Jacque and Jessica Green gathered their community for a virtual session of Courageous Conversations with special guest David M. Bailey of Arrabon, who works to equip individuals and communities to effectively engage in the work of reconciliation.
Dr. Jacque began the session by talking about the tools in her kitchen. She shared how knowing which tools are most helpful under what circumstances leads to the best culinary outcome. Like kitchen utensils, she says we can develop tools within ourselves for better outcomes for understanding and reconciling with others.
“You have to ask yourself what tool do I need in this circumstance. Do I call somebody in to a private conversation and tell them about how a hurtful remark affected me? Do I call someone out in a public arena with witnesses? What’s my goal? How could I speak truth or offer correction in a way that will be received?” Dr. Jacque says, with practice, we can develop the ability to know which tools are best used under what circumstances. We can sharpen our skills for better understanding those around us who may have understandings with which we deeply disagree.”
Special guest, David M. Bailey joined the conversation to help prepare us for what tools we need when the moment strikes and what we hear needs tension, needs correction.
When I reflect on the Top Tools I took away from and have used since this this session with David M. Bailey, these are the FIVE that come to mind:
Tool #1 | PROXIMITY
“A friend of mine named Jason Kane said it this way, ‘Proximity leads to empathy and empathy leads to unity.'” David Bailey says ‘calling out’ becomes more effective when you do it from a place of sacrificial love. “No matter what faith background you come from, people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Bailey says sacrificial love is key to connecting and getting close to people with whom you seek to better understand. “I heard a wise man tell me that walking in somebody’s shoes is never comfortable, but at least you get a chance to understand where they’re stepping… It’s really important that we just don’t only try to just change people from a distance but we try to get into their space, walk in their shoes and even do it from a place where we genuinely love another person.”
Tool #2 | ACTIVISM
David Bailey says, when it comes to activism, one size doesn’t fit all. He says activism is one way of working for change, but there are different approaches for different talents and skill sets. He outlined five kinds of activists. “Some people are gifted as SYSTEMS THINKERS. You might not do protests, go out and march but you might be a person who thinks about systems. Then there are the NAVIGATORS who say, ‘This way is true north. This is how we go. They sound the alarm. They ring the bell. They crash the symbols. We need people like that to team up with systems thinkers.” Bailey says RECRUITERS bring people on board, COACHING COMPANIONS motivate and support and EDUCATORS are activists who teach and offer new ways of thinking about things “There’s a role for all of us to play to make some change for the positive, for the better.”
Tool #3 | CULTURAL INTELLIGENCE
“If you go to a therapist, they ask, how did your family deal with conflict. Some families throw things. Other families don’t talk about it.” Bailey also points out differences in personality and cultures. “Some people are fight. Some people are flight. Some people freeze whenever there is tension. This is true culturally. Some cultures are more direct. Others are indirect. Some cultures are more hierarchical and others are egalitarian.” Bailey says exercising some cultural intelligence will help you identify potential triggers and better understand the origins of difference.
Tool #4 | CURIOSITY
“In order to build trust in community, you actually have to have conflict.” When it comes to conflict resolution, David Bailey says curiosity is key as is asking for permission to better understand. “Curiosity leads to a lot of adventure if we look at conflict as an opportunity and not something to avoid.” Bailey sees conflict resolution skills as a basic human need. He shares one skill which is to “ask to understand” by repeating back what you think you heard. “Say, ‘Hey, this is what I heard you tell me. Did I get you right?’ This way people feel heard and understood. Slowing down helps you go further, faster, when people feel heard and understood.”
Tool #5 | EMPATHY & HUMILITY
“When somebody comes to me and they might come off kind of strong, I try not to judge because it’s telling me that there’s a lot of pain. There’s probably a reason and a story behind why they’re coming off this strong.” Bailey says pausing to understand and empathize is helpful if you seek to communicate for effectiveness. “My grandma had this saying, ‘The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement,” so I always try to have that kind of posture.”
Thank you, David Bailey, Rev. Dr. Zina Jacque, Jessica Green & Courageous Conversations for helping us fill our toolbox for better communication, conflict resolution and understanding! Here are a few more resources, quotes and questions courtesy of David Bailey, to keep us thinking courageously.
“If your brother offends you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church.”
“The Art of Noticing”
- When were you “called out” and it was helpful?
- When were you “called in” and it was helpful?
- What about those situations helped you learn & grow?
(The who? The where? When? Why? How?)
- Can you think of a time you wish you could “do-over” where your response was not as effective as you hoped it would be?
Here are past articles for our takeaways from the 2020-2021 season of Courageous Conversations:
- September, 2020 – Standing in Another’s Shoes
- October, 2020 – Parenting for Inclusion
- November, 2020 – Repairing Civic Trust & Becoming America
- December, 2020 – Healing Our Communities
- February, 2021 – Love, Anger & Apology
COMING SOON! The Fall 2021 Season of Courageous Conversations kicks off September 8, 2021. How do we foster greater inclusion & belonging in our communities? Join hosts Rev. Dr. Zina Jacque and Jessica Green for the Fall 2021 Season of Courageous Conversations! Second Wednesdays, 7-9pm CT, September through December 2021. Events will take place in person at Barrington’s White House with a virtual offering for remote guests! CLICK HERE to support the series and save time for yourself by registering once for all 4 sessions!
- September 8: Seeing No Stranger, with Eboo Patel & David French
- October 13: Befriending Radical Disagreement, with R. Derek Black & Matthew Stevenson
- November 10: Minding How Media Shapes Our Minds, with Dr. Stephanie Edgerly
- December 8: Reckoning with Injustice, with Aaron Niequist
Courageous Conversations is presented by Urban Consulate and Barrington’s White House and made possible by your ticket purchase and generous support from Barrington Area Community Foundation, BMO Wealth Management, Jessica & Dominic Green, Kim Duchossois, Tyler & Danielle Lenczuk, Cobey & Erich Struckmeyer, Young Chung, Susan & Rich Padula, Carol & David Nelson, Dennis Barsema, Julie Kanak & Mike Rigali. To learn more and listen to the podcast, visit CourageousCommunity.us
Photos from Courageous Conversations at Barrington’s White House by Linda Barrett.