Politically Correct and Healthy Communication

Conversation Guide

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What is acceptable public speech? Are there social situations where it is good for people to hold their thoughts rather than speak their minds? Most people agree that certain derogatory language about people who are a different race, culture or sexual orientation is offensive and inappropriate. But not everything is so clear. Is there a point where our sensibilities about what is and is not acceptable speech become too restrictive? And are there ways to balance the need to be sensitive and compassionate, with the importance of preserving space for free exploration and open discussion?

Let's Get Started!

This Living Room Conversation flows through three rounds of questions and a closing. Some rounds ask you to answer each question. Others feature multiple questions that serve as conversation starters — you need only respond to the one or two you find most interesting.

Before You Begin...

Please go over the Conversation Agreements with your participants.

Introductions: Getting Started/
Why Are We Here?

  • What interested you or drew you to this conversation?

Round 1: Core Values

Answer one or more of the following:
  • What sense of purpose / mission / duty guides you in your life?
  • What would your best friend say about who you are and what inspires you?
  • What are your hopes and concerns for your community and/or the country?

Round 2:

Politically Correct and Healthy Communication -- which is what?

Remember that the goal for this Living Room Conversation is for all of us to listen and learn about where we have different opinions and where we have shared interests, intentions and goals. Answer ​one or more of the following questions:
  • How do you demonstrate respect for others, while maintaining an ability to speak your mind?
  • How do you respond to individuals who are not aware they may be offending others? What happens when you do that?
  • How have you addressed people when they are knowingly disrespectful? What was the result?
  • Is there a topic you shy away from because you feel the constraint of political correctness?
  • Have you seen political correctness used as a weapon or a way to oppress others or constrain speech? What happened?
  • What is healthy communication for you?

Round 3: Reflection & Next Steps

Answer ​one or more​ of the following questions:
  • In one sentence, share what was most meaningful or valuable to you in the experience of this Living Room Conversation?
  • What new understanding or common ground did you find within this topic?
  • Has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group, including yourself?
  • Name one important thing that was accomplished here.
  • Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation you just had?

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