Effective Conversations

Research shows that our country is becoming more politically polarized—it is increasingly difficult to find shared values even amongst our own neighbors and agree on how the United States should look in the future. That’s why it’s all the more imperative that organizers and activists have the skills they need to communicate across lines of difference to make real, progressive change in our country. OFA designed a multi-part online series for volunteers to address this gap in understanding through their own local community organizing work. The trainings below focus on sharpening skills in persuasion and communication.

Effective Listening

In this training, we ground ourselves as listeners. In a recent study, 78% of the United States population indicated they were highly effective listeners, but only a quarter of the people polled could repeat back what was shared. This training focuses on the ability to listen for the underlying values that people try to convey when they speak, and how to build a connection based on shared ideas and beliefs.

Motivational Interviewing

Using a technique borrowed from clinical psychology, motivational interviewing helps practitioners to identify contradictions in what people are saying—highlighting assumptions that are being made and stating them in a non-judgemental way. Research shows that when people are able to state their own contradictions, they are more likely to change their behavior. Though challenging, this training provides useful techniques to apply in personal and professional contexts.

Know your why

Many Americans have ideas about how to change our country for the better. But why are we not always compelled by them? It’s likely because we don’t always hear the underlying values behind why they care about the change in the first place—their ‘why. Through this training, participants will identify their ‘why’, and practice communicating it in a clear, persuasive way that allows others to connect with their ideas/story.

Theory of Change

Through the theory established in Part 4 (Knowing Your Why), we’ve created the space to practice communicating what makes you tick, and we can add on your theory of change for what makes a community more healthy. We end this training by pulling together your motivation, theory of change, and an organizer’s best friend—the hard ask. This training uses a practical framework that can be used in multiple organizing settings—from neighborhood canvassing to talking to congressional representatives.

Deep Canvassing

To wrap up the series, this series close by reviewing proven techniques to hear shared values rather than ideological differences, leading to common ground. We find these techniques particularly helpful when talking to our neighbors who are not actively involved in politics.