Changing the Discourse

Purpose of the Tool:

Often groups can fall into “Discourse I Attributes.” The consequences of this range from limiting perspectives that hide opportunities to perpetuating false narratives that support inequity and systemic disparities. Consciously bringing “Discourse II Attributes” into conversation can help groups to:

  • More fully understand the issues and context at hand.
  • Think beyond the obvious.
  • Be aware of the impact of biases.
  • Identify opportunities for action in constrained environments.
  • Move past conversations that start with “This is too hard because…”; “This has always been a problem because…”; “If only others would…” and so forth. Instead focusing on what the group can influence now or within the immediate future.

Suggested Use:

  1. Throughout conversations, keep these attributes at hand, perhaps as a handout.
  2. Make sure group members understand what each attribute means, then rely on the common language the tool establishes to support and challenge one another in conversation, such as:
    • “I hear your point, but I wonder what other perspectives come into play to define this– do we know multiple stories?”
    • “Although it may be complicated, I appreciate that you are trying to address root cause. Let’s try and think of some useful and immediate steps we can take to get started, even in a limited context.”

Example: The Equity Action Team is considering the latest Service Analysis and has identified several organizations that do not have clients’ representative of the most unemployed demographics in their neighborhood. The action team can consider how Discourse II Attributes will lead to more productive and fruitful sources of support for these agencies as the action team considers how to bring this information to light.

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