Healthy Congregation Team Guidelines for Having Difficult Conversations

As Unitarian Universalists we are committed to creating a safe space for conversations that foster, enable and encourage our own growth and learning.  To this end and to help us remain a community in covenant, your Healthy Congregations Team offers the following guidelines/reminders for when we find ourselves having an emotional reaction to something another person has said in person and/or posted on social media. This is especially relevant in light of the current political and social justice challenges we are living with today.

When you have a deeply emotional reaction to something that was said or that you read on-line…

1.) It is okay to STOP and think about what you are experiencing before responding. Ponder your needs (to educate, to “win,” to get help with your feelings) and how they align with your values and our covenant with one another.

2.) Consider your intent (to convince, to learn, to empathize, or ?) as you prepare to respond. Know, however, that your intent may be different from your impact, which prepares you for another kind of learning. Patience and humility helps here.

3.) It helps to examine the historical and societal context of your own identity and privilege which might lead you to underestimate the weight of an issue which has not yet affected you personally.

4.) Determine if it would be helpful to schedule a Zoom meeting (or some other face-to-face structure) rather than continuing to communicate on-line; seeing someone while having a difficult discussion improves communication because tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language can be conveyed.

5.) In short, strive to keep yourself open to being influenced by what is happening around you. Patience, humility and clarity go a long way toward maintaining covenant with each other while we learn and grow together. 

Your H.CT. (Debra Valpey, Bev Ross, and Quinn Rose) and your minister stand with you and will help in any way we can to maintain and, when needed, find a way back into covenant.

At Saltwater Church we practice love, foster connection, nurture spiritual growth, and act for justice.

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