How to have effective climate conversations - according to experts
Ever tried bringing up climate change around the dinner table – and get shut down?
Maybe people rolled their eyes at you. Or brushed you off.
Talking about climate change can be challenging, especially when the topic is so unwelcome. It can be hard to bring up the subject again after feeling defeated.
But don’t feel too upset – it’s hard for people to cope with this overwhelming and complex problem.
Climate conversations can be tough – but there are ways you can have more success. Here are ways you can have effective climate conversations – according to experts.
Don't "Doom Dump"
Facts don't move hearts
The fact is…. climate conversations need to be more than numbers, data, and graphs. This is important, but we need to connect with people where it matters. People want basics things in life : health, love, and happiness. Connect with people here – through their feelings and emotions. Hope is a powerful way to move people. Pull at their heart-strings, make them smile, make them feel good. That’s where you can make a real change.
Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
The simple, most effective ways to communicate are based on simplicity – but they are repeated often. Slogans, jingles, sayings – the things that stand the test of time – they are easily remembered and repeated frequently.
Have you ever been shamed? Even just Googling how people feel when they’re shamed brings up a host of negative emotions. Rejection. Worthlessness. Guilt. Regret. Sadness. Dishonor. It clearly isn’t the best way to feel. And when people shrink, they feel small. When people feel small, they retract. When they retract, we lose them – and probably for good. Because shame is a powerful emotion. Don’t be the person that shames others. You’re doing more harm than good. Always aim to lift them up, inflate them, and make them big. And never forget to celebrate the small wins – to “catch them” when they’re good!
Tell more stories
Stories have always been what moves us as a society. Tell real stories that connect people. We’re social beings. We want to listen to stories. We want to be inspired. Inspire people with stories. If you want a great way to “break the ice” and get the conversation going, our upcycled Random Acts of Green T-Shirts is proven to get people to ask questions.
Trolls aren't worth it
Have you been caught arguing with someone online to no avail? Stop. Just stop. You’re wasting your precious energy and time. There are far more people on this planet willing to listen to you – don’t fight with a keyboard warrior. Your influence is needed elsewhere. A very small portion of the population are “climate deniers”. Why not focus on the people who are “on the fencers”? You’ll have more luck.
Find Common Ground
Talk the same language as those around you. You need to focus on finding something you have in common with your network. Maybe it’s your hometown, the university you went to, your workplace, or someone who lives on the same street. Look for ways to connect on common grounds and find a way to connect it back to climate change in an elegant manner. People tend to talk about things that are personal and close to home.
Did you know that over 500 Municipalities in Canada have declared a climate emergency? Check to see if your municipality is on the list! If not, start a conversation about it!
The most important thing you can do to fight climate change is to talk about it.
Many researchers point this out including the below and many more.
Moser, Susanne C. “Reflections on climate change communication research and practice in the second decade of the 21st century: what more is there to say?.” Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change 7.3 (2016): 345-369.
Please also watch this video for more information.
Have you had a successful climate conversation lately?
We’d love to hear about it! When you are ready to take it further with action, explore How to change people’s behaviour, according to experts
And, if you’d like to get involved with Random Acts of Green, check out our membership program and help contribute to having more important climate conversations.