Tough Topics: Fierce Conversations
CCMA AmeriCorps VISTA Member Amy Engineer, serving at the University of Maryland’s Leadership & Community Service Learning (LCSL) department, facilitated a session on Fierce Conversations with Dr. Craig Slack during CCMA’s Service-Learning & Civic Engagement (SLCE) Conference at the University of Maryland College Park campus in November.
A fierce conversation is the confrontation of the truth and recognition of the issue at hand in an effort to better the relationship. Confrontation is not about being right, but a search for the truth and common understanding. To be successful with fierce conversations, it’s important to create a culture of accountability and honesty. Knowing that you can be honest and intentional with the other person allows these conversations to happen more easily and ultimately results in a stronger relationship with the other person.
At the SLCE Conference, Amy facilitated this session for about 35 people from many universities across the DC, Maryland, and Delaware areas. Participants shared examples from their past and discussed times when an attempt at a fierce conversation went wrong. It was clear that many of the participants wanted clarity around these issues for their professional and personal lives.
Amy feels that by talking about what a fierce conversation is and by giving people the tools to have successful fierce conversations, it will make people more willing to confront the truth and find clarity and understanding at work and home.
Being able to have these conversations is essential to growth, both professionally and personally. Amy has already seen a positive change in her time at LCSL. People are more likely to approach matters that bother them with honesty, intentionality, and mutual respect. “It’s no longer this big, daunting thing anymore,” Amy said, “we regularly schedule round robins where students and supervisors give each other feedback, both negative and positive because we are committed to growth and confronting the truth.”