Do you strongly disagree with a friend, family member, or colleague about abortion? If you want to be able to talk about this thorny issue without arguing or causing bad
feelings, try using these tips.
(Source: 2019 Essential Partners)
These suggestions are based on more than a decade of helping people with strong pro-
life and pro-choice views have constructive conversations.
- Clarify your purpose. Why do you want to have this conversation? If it’s to persuade
the other person to share your views, these tips will not be helpful. Your initial
conversation should arise from a desire to understand this person, be understood better,
and lessen tension.
- Invite the other person to collaborate in planning your dialogue. Make sure you have
the same kind of conversation in mind. Agree on a time, place, and how long you will talk
- Identify what you want to prevent (e.g. personal attacks) and what you want to
promote (e.g. respectful speaking). Propose, discuss and agree upon some ground
rules to prevent the “bad” and promote the “good.”
- Pre-plan an agenda for your conversation using the following four steps.
A. Take turns doing the following:
- Speak about a personal experience that’s shaped your views about abortion.
- Talk about what’s at the heart of your view and why it means so much to you.
- Share the complexity of your own views: doubts, gray areas, and values conflicts as well as where you’re perfectly
B. Then, take turns responding to genuine questions. Ask one another questions
likely to deepen your understanding about what each other has said. Avoid questions
designed to expose, trap, or instruct.
C. Continue learning about one another. Listen! Check out assumptions. See where
your ideas, experiences, values, and commitments overlap as well as where they
D. Wrap up. Mention something you valued about the conversation.