Politically Correct and Healthy Communication
What is acceptable public speech? Are there social situations where it is good for people to hold their thoughts rather than speak their minds? Most people agree that certain derogatory language about people who are a different race, culture or sexual orientation is offensive and inappropriate. But not everything is so clear. Is there a point where our sensibilities about what is and is not acceptable speech become too restrictive? And are there ways to balance the need to be sensitive and compassionate, with the importance of preserving space for free exploration and open discussion?
Let's Get Started!
Living Room Conversations offers a simple, sociable and structured way to practice communicating across differences while building understanding and relationships. Typically, 4-6 people meet in person or by video call for about 90 minutes to listen to and be heard by others on one of our nearly 100 topics. Rather than debating or convincing others, we take turns talking to share, learn, and be curious. No preparation is required, though background links with balanced views are available on some topic pages online. Anyone can host using these italicized instructions. Hosts also participate.
Why We're Here (~10 min)
Share your name, where you live, what drew you here, and if this is your first conversation.
How We'll Engage (~5 min)
These will set the tone of our conversation; participants may volunteer to take turns reading them aloud. (Click here for the full conversation agreements.)
- Be curious and listen to understand.
- Show respect and suspend judgment.
- Note any common ground as well as any differences.
- Be authentic and welcome that from others.
- Be purposeful and to the point.
- Own and guide the conversation.
What We’ll Talk About
Optional: a participant can keep track of time and gently let people know when their time has elapsed.
Getting to Know Each Other (~10 min)
Each participant can take 1-2 minutes to answer one of these questions:
- What are your hopes and concerns for your community and/or the country?
- What would your best friend say about who you are and what inspires you?
- What sense of purpose / mission / duty guides you in your life?
Politically Correct and Healthy Communication (~40 min)
Take ~2 minutes each to answer a question below without interruption or crosstalk. After everyone has answered, the group may take a few minutes for clarifying or follow up questions/responses. Continue exploring additional questions as time allows..
- How do you demonstrate respect for others, while maintaining an ability to speak your mind?
- How do you respond to individuals who are not aware they may be offending others? What happens when you do that?
- How have you addressed people when they are knowingly disrespectful? What was the result?
- Is there a topic you shy away from because you feel the constraint of political correctness?
- Have you seen political correctness used as a weapon or a way to oppress others or constrain speech? What happened?
- What is healthy communication for you?
Reflecting on the Conversation (~15 min)
Take 2 minutes to answer one of the following questions:
- In one sentence, share what was most meaningful or valuable to you in the experience of this Living Room Conversation?
- What new understanding or common ground did you find within this topic?
- Has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group, including yourself?
- Name one important thing that was accomplished here.
- Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation you just had?