Kwame Christian: How to Have Difficult Conversations About Race
Kwame Christian is a best-selling author, lawyer, professor, and the Managing Director of the American Negotiation Institute. He has conducted countless specialized trainings worldwide and is a highly sought after keynote speaker. His best-selling book, Finding Confidence in Conflict has helped countless individuals overcome the fear, anxiety, and emotion associated with difficult conversations. The book was inspired by Kwame’s TED Talk with the same name that has over 250,000 views. He’s also host of the Negotiate Anything Podcast, the most popular negotiation podcast in the world.
Kwame was the recipient of the John Glenn College of Public Affairs Young Alumni Achievement Award in 2020 and the Moritz College of Law Outstanding Recent Alumnus Award 2021. Additionally, Kwame is a business lawyer at Carlile, Patchen & Murphy LLP and serves a professor for The Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law in its top-ranked dispute resolution program and Otterbein University’s MBA program. He is also a Contributor for Forbes and his LinkedIn Learning course, How to Be Both Likable And Assertive, was the most popular course on the platform in July of 2021. He is the author of How to Have Difficult Conversations About Race: Practical Tools for Necessary Change in the Workplace and Beyond*.
In this conversation, Kwame and I discuss how to begin a difficult conversation about race. We explore the key questions that each of us should ask ourselves so that we can determine in advance what we want to gain from a tough conversation. Finally, we look at the three critical things to say in the first 30 seconds that will help you start an important conversation that helps everybody move forward.
- It's hard for someone else to appreciate how much of a person's identity affects every other area of their lives until you've lived it.
- People explain away racism because they don’t like it and don’t want it to be true.
- Whether you think a conversation is about race or not, if it’s about race for the other person then you’re having a conversation about race.
There questions to ask yourself before a conversation:
- What do I hope to accomplish in this conversation?
- Given what I know about them and the situation, what is likely to be their goal?
- What are three questions I can ask them that will help me to understand their position?
- Use situation, impact, and invitation as the starting point for a difficult conversation. Usually this is less than 30 seconds.
- “Naked facts” reduce the likelihood that someone will dispute the premise of what you are addressing.
- How to Have Difficult Conversations About Race: Practical Tools for Necessary Change in the Workplace and Beyond* by Kwame Christian
- Negotiate Anything podcast
Download my interview notes in PDF format (free membership required).
- The Way Into Difficult Conversations, with Kwame Christian (episode 497)
- How to Reduce Bias in Feedback, with Therese Huston (episode 510)
- The Way Managers Can be Champions for Justice, with Minda Harts (episode 552)
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