As the first event of the three-part Climate Conversations series on campus this fall, Kyle Meyaard-Schaap, spokesperson for Young Evangelicals for Climate Action, led a workshop on “Crafting Your Climate Testimony” Monday night.
Students from all programs and majors came to explore their fears and frustrations associated with discussing climate change, and to learn the best practices for the most effective way to communicate their feelings on the issue with those around them.
Meyaard-Schaap laid out simple guidelines for discussing the sometimes difficult topic with friends, family members, fellow believers and climate acceptors and skeptics alike. Here is a quick list of “Do’s and Dont’s” that you can consult if you are hoping to discuss climate change, or any other controversial topic, in a way that helps you feel prepared and comfortable.
- Cast a positive vision
- Focus on opportunities over costs and sacrifices
- Use stories to convey your point
- Make it relatable (focus stories and outcomes on what could realistically affect the people you are talking to)
- Speak in an invitational and inclusive tone (communicate feelings of belonging)
- Respect the other person and their values, commitments and opinions
- Give people a tangible way to respond
- Distance people from the problem (by using examples that are outside of what they see in their everyday life)
- Use guilt as a technique to make your point
- Talk about the sacrifices associated with climate action
- Emphasize who people are not (instead speak to who they are and how they identify)
- Lead with scientific facts and statistics that people can’t understand or relate to
- Ignore the stakes
Everyone has their own preconceived notions about climate change and environmental protection that are important to keep in mind while trying to talk with them about your own thoughts and feelings. Hopefully these guidelines can help lead your conversations in ways that benefit everyone involved.
“You don’t have to be an expert, just tell your own story. Share your journey. Because your stories are powerful and there are so many people who need to hear about climate change from you,” Meyaard-Schaap stated.
Meyaard Schaap will be leading a chapel tonight titled, “Community Conversation: Hope in the Age of Climate Change.” Stay tuned with the Pulse for more information about upcoming events in the Climate Conversations series.