Benefits of having Intentional Discussions about Tough Topics

communication, discussion, dialogue

Titled leaders and employees are happier and more successful when they learn how to have discussions that include deep listening and truth telling.   A failure to do either one equals missed opportunities for learning and growth.  (This is also true for family and community members.)

As a result,  I’ve been encouraging listening, thinking, and dialogue with increasing frequency and leveraging current events as examples of how we can do this.

As you watch the news, are you ever so aware of the pain and the division in our world that it is hard to think about anything else?  

Recently in my home country:  

  • A woman was set on fire because of her faith.
  • Two other women were punched because of their faith.
  • Bombs were set off and people were stabbed for their faith.
  • A man was killed because of the color of his skin.
  • Several men were killed because of the uniform they wear.

Some have responded with fear and hate for everyone that is not like them. 

Others deny that any problem exists and encourage blind acceptance.  


Do we really have only two options???

Fuel Fear or Avoid Fear


What if you learned to walk through those fears to seek truth and understanding?

What if you sat at a table with people that aren’t the same color as you, don’t have the same religion as you, don’t wear the same uniform as you and actually talked about the things you are concerned about?  

The goal is NOT to win or to convince someone of your point of view.

The objective IS to:

  • Consider another perspective
  • Deepen your understanding
  • Give you a reason to read more about both sides of the issue
  • Have more discussions

If you are not sure how to get started, the discussion starters below are a good place to begin:  

  • How do you experience racism today?
  • Is there any one term that everyone agrees with that is an acceptable descriptive word for people of color?
  • How do you know if someone’s intention is hateful or earnest desire to find the right descriptive word?
  • Please share your experiences and emotions on days that terrorist attacks are committed:
    • As a citizen:  In the country it happened and/or in another country observing it from afar
    • As a member of the faith community:  That was attacked and/or as a member of the same faith as the attackers

Balance truth with love

The more I do this, the more I discover how hungry people are for these types of conversations…

These are some of the takeaways from discussions that are taking place in living rooms and over lunch tables:

  • Racism isn’t always open and in your face, sometimes it is as subtle as sexual harassment. You may know in your gut that is the intention but sometimes it is hard to define.
  • Negative past experiences with a particular word or a particular “group” of people makes it challenging for us to hear that word or to engage with that group of people again.
  • We all want to be safe and we all experience fear.  Some fear of being the victim.  While others fear being persecuted because of the hateful actions of others that just happen to look like them.  (Skin color, uniform, or religion.)

In spite of the urban legend that it is unwise to talk about some of these topics…

  • These discussions have not ended in energy sapping behaviors.  There has been no shouting at those who disagree and no venting to those that do agree.  Instead, the people that have engaged in this process are anticipating a discovery, sharing their curiosity, listening with compassion, pondering deep learning’s, building relationships and leaving these discussions with great energy and hope.

On October 4th we’re launching Conversation Safaris on our International Compound to encourage these kinds of discussions between people from more than 40 nations and a variety of faith backgrounds.

Would you like to join us?  You can start Conversations Safaris in your living room, your dining room table, or at a larger venue in your community.  If you need help getting started.  Please email your questions to chery@consultgiana.com.

a conversation safari

President, Giana Consulting

Chery Gegelman is an adventurer that loves to learn. ...Deep conversations, books, travel, and daily living are all food for growth.

As a speaker, facilitator and workshop leader she creates energizing environments that reflect God's grace, tear down walls, help people to consider new perspectives, and inspire change.

Chery is the Founder of Giana Consulting and Conversation Safari's, listed as a Great Leadership Speaker by Inc., writes a recognized leadership blog and has co-authored two leadership books.

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4 thoughts on “Benefits of having Intentional Discussions about Tough Topics

  1. I loved this article, Chery! And I totally agree with you: People are hungry for deeper conversations about important issues of our day…

    You offer many great places to start them!

    • Thank you LaRae! Not only are we hungrier for this – it is so energizing to be able to have these discussions! I came home from one recently and raved for hours to my husband about the spirit in the room, passion, the discussion, the learnings… Hungry for more!

  2. I love your idea and heart Chery! Conversations open up people to have a dialogue to address their inner concerns and help them see different perspectives. I look forward to hearing how your “Conversation Safari” goes!

    Bravo to an extraordinary idea towards understanding one another!