Tackling Complex Issues with Sensitivity

Do you find yourself feeling uncomfortable at family gatherings or in a large group when someone brings up politics? How about if someone makes a comment about religion or a sensitive news story? We’ve all been there! And it’s part of the “new normal” for many people. Families have struggled against separation over political ideologies and differences of opinion between people, generations, and more. But how do we tackle these complex issues with sensitivity?

It starts with hearing how others talk about these issues. Sometimes you need to hear how other people can have conversations, how they listen to each other, and how they talk with true sensitivity about difficult and hot-button topics. To give you, our dear readers, a little bit of insight, we’ve compiled some podcasts, videos, and online resources to help you navigate your next tense conversational situation.

Podcasts tackling big subjects

If you like to listen to podcasts, consider adding some of these to your rotation.

On Being — this award-winning podcast doesn’t shy away from the big questions. Want to hear people discuss what it means to be human? Or perhaps what race really means in America? On Being tackles the BIG questions and does so with sensitivity and respect. This is a great place to start to hear how people can discuss difficult subjects without resulting to arguing.

Interfaith Voices — this is the only public radio show that is exclusively about religion. Hosted by a nun, the panel is multi-faith and tackles very difficult questions and topics on religion.

Take it from the experts

This TEDTalk with Michelle Stowe gets right at the heart of things and discusses how empathy is necessary and important for navigating difficult conversations.

And if you need a little more advice from the great people over at TEDTalks, then be sure to watch this short video of Tara Marcink. She talks about the real power in having difficult conversations about complex topics and frames it all within our current state. Do people in your family or friends throw up walls as soon as someone disagrees? Tara talks about how to navigate that moment.

Opening your mind to complex issues

One of the first ways you can change things is to look inward and think about how YOU talk about or respond to difficult topics coming up in conversation. Do you stay open minded? Do you shut down? One way you can do a little personal investigation is to ask yourself the questions in this step-by-step guide. It provides a checklist for difficult conversations and helps you really think about how you feel.

You can also always grab questions from How Do You See The World? to test your mind and your emotions. Whether you play by the rules or just use the questions to get yourself thinking, the act of being curious will help you when those difficult topics come up again in the future.

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