Real Talk

Promoting Social Justice in Education and Psychology Through Difficult Dialogues

Marie Guerda Nicolas, University of Miami
Marisol Meyer, University of Miami
Ceewin Louder, University of Miami
Ryan Schooley, University of Miami
Lei Sun, University of Miami

A volume in the series: The University of Miami School of Education and Human Development Series. Editor(s): Marie Guerda Nicolas, University of Miami.

Published 2023

As divisions grow across political, economic, and social lines, it often feels as though the only belief shared by many is that “the other side is too far gone.” An authentic difficult dialogue has the power to mobilize our shared humanity in addressing divisions and making transformative change for a more just society. Decades of social science research on meaningful human exchanges can help make sure you not only engage in a difficult dialogue, but that you can engage authentically for the desired goal of transformative change.

A difficult dialogue is an exchange between two or more individuals that are likely to disagree or clash. This book will provide a solid foundation for understanding and engaging in difficult dialogues. As you traverse through the pages, you will develop a better understanding of how desires for power and belonging shape each unique difficult dialogue and recognize how experiences with motivation and defensiveness impact difficult dialogues. Further, you will read about case studies of successful dialogues between children and adults and discover the positive benefits of engaging in difficult dialogues with the youth in your life. Finally, you will be given the opportunity to learn about and practice specific skills to prepare for, engage in, and move forward before, during, and after a difficult dialogue. Given the intellectual foundation you will construct while reading this book, this book includes a workbook section to put your newfound skills to work.

If you are left wondering “If difficult dialogues are difficult by nature, is it really worth engaging in one?” This book will shed light on the power dialogue grants you to inspire transformative change. Difficult dialogues show us that very few people are truly “too far gone” to communicate, reflect, transform, and act. We have all bore witness to both massive societal issues and their proliferating repercussions. However, there is hope in that each can begin to be solved and dismantled with the comparatively small task of engaging in authentic difficult dialogues. To address societal ills - to grow - we must be courageous, we must be vulnerable, and we must have authentic difficult dialogues. We must do this for a better world, for a more just world, and this book may serve as a foundation and a reference as you progress in your journey.

Foreword. CHAPTER 1: Why Are Dialogues Needed? CHAPTER 2: Understanding Dialogue. CHAPTER 3: Doing the Work. CHAPTER 4: Engaging in Dialogues: Common Responses in Difficult Dialogues and How to Manage Them. CHAPTER 5: Kids and Dialogue. CHAPTER 6: Building Your Toolkit: Resources. CHAPTER 7: Concluding Thoughts. References. Author Biography.