Transforming Polarized Conversations: An Essential Toolkit for Moving from Entrenchment to Engagement

Christian leaders across Canada are struggling with how to navigate increasingly polarized conversations with their congregations, families and friends. During seasons of change, it is common for perspectives to polarize and for people to struggle with talking well with one another. How do we, as Jesus followers, converse with divergent viewpoints and engage in active listening with a Christlike posture? What skills do we, as leaders, need to acquire to tackle tough conversations? Are there parts of our inner lives that need to be re-examined and addressed?

In October 2021, participants were invited to a Zoom-based webinar series with Dr. Betty Pries who offered a practical and engaging learning experience with suggested practices for transforming polarized conversations. Please click the YouTube links below to access the recording of these sessions. These videos will be made available until January 2022.

→Download PowerPoint/slides PDF from these sessions.

Session 1 October 13th | 6:00pm Pacific Time | Transforming Polarized Thinking – Watch on YouTube

Transforming polarized thinking is challenging – especially when we miss the wisdom polarized perspectives are longing to reveal. This conversation considers the dynamics of polarities, and the risks of either-or thinking, while proposing a strategy (and a spirituality) for transforming deeply entrenched differences and embracing the power and possibility of both-and thinking.

Session 2 October 20th | 6:00pm Pacific Time | Feeding Elephants, Talking to Riders, Shaping a Path – Watch on YouTube

It is tempting to lean on logical argument (the rider) to solve our polarized differences. Our differences, however, are more often driven by factors much deeper than logic (our elephant). This conversation considers a spectrum of polarized thinking in congregational life uses the metaphor of the elephant, rider, and path, to propose a tailored approach for engaging congregants who reside at diverse places on the polarization continuum.

Session 3 October 27th | 6:00pm Pacific Time | Building Blocks of Communication – Watch on YouTube

Congregational harmony depends on our ability to engage in healthy disagreement with one another. This session considers the building blocks of communication, how these building blocks show up at congregational meetings, in the parking lot, and at potluck dinners. Together, we will explore how to use the building blocks of communication to enhance understanding and disagree better with one another, strengthening congregational harmony.

*this webinar series is hosted and sponsored by the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada

Dr. Betty Pries is CEO at Credence & Co. where she leads a dynamic team of consultants alongside supporting a diverse range of client groups. Betty is also the author of the book, The Space Between Us: Conversations about Conflict Transformation.

Betty brings over 27 years of experience to her work as a coach, trainer, facilitator, mediator, and consultant. Betty is highly regarded as a Conflict, Change, and Leadership Specialist. She works especially with complex challenges, supporting leaders and their organizations to be at their best. Betty’s capacity to care deeply, listen well, and provide wise and thoughtful support allows her to help her clients engage in tough, meaningful, and important conversations, set directions, and achieve positive organizational change.

Betty specializes in engaging and transforming dynamics related to organizational health: leadership and executive coaching, conflict management, change management, strategic planning, facilitation of tough conversations. Betty brings a wealth of experience to her work, having worked with a wide range of organizations, both nationally and internationally, with businesses, public institutions, not-for-profit organizations and a diverse range of congregations.

Betty has extensive education, training, and experience in coaching, mediation, negotiation, consensus building, consultation, facilitation, and organizational health. As Co-Founder and CEO at Credence, Betty’s great joy has been the opportunity to mentor and support the growth of the Credence team. Betty has a PhD from the Free University Amsterdam on the topic of conflict transformation. She is a Chartered Mediator with the ADR Institute of Canada and a member of the ADR Institute of Ontario. Betty is a regular instructor at the University of Waterloo.