Tuesday, 31 May 2011

More on Courageous Conversations about Race

As a leader, are you comfortable with the four agreements?  If so, how is this apparent in your leadership?

Four Agreements of Courageous Conversations

  1. Stay engaged
  2. Experience Discomfort
  3. Speak Your Truth
  4. Expect and accept non-closure

STAY ENGAGED: To stay engaged is to not let your heard and mind "check out" of the conversation.  ...Collective disengagement also exists in schools.  When a dramatic racial achievement gap persists, the children of the school pay the ultimate price for the adults' unwillingness to engage in difficult interracial dialogue.

EXPERIENCE DISCOMFORT:  The Courageous Conversation strategy...asks participants to agree to experience discomfort so that they can deal with the reality of race in an honest and forthright way. 

SPEAK YOUR TRUTH: Speaking your truth means being absolutely honest about your thoughts, feelings, and opinions and not just saying what your perceive others want to hear.

EXPECT AND ACCEPT NON-CLOSURE:  ...the solution is revealed in the process of dialogue itself.  ... If people expect and accept non-closure in racial discourse, then the more they talk, the more they learn; and the more they learn, the more appropriate and promising will be their actions and interventions.

From:  Courageous Conversations about Race by Glenn Singleton and Curtis Linton
Published by: Corwin Press


  1. Hi Richard,
    A nice post, thanks.
    I've always liked the phrase Courageous Conversations, even though I'm a little unclear about how appropriate that phrase itself might be used in anything other than a training context; the same qualifier ("courageous") that makes it perspicuous at once seems to infer some value to it that have the potential for confusion at best, offence at worst.

    That being said, the Courageous Conversations I've been having lately seem to focus around how well "the system" is able to address courageous conversations directed at its own processes, values and goals. With respect to Equity, how should a leader proceed when his/her own moral imperative is in conflict with the Duty to Loyalty? Of course the expectations are clear as conditions of employment with the board, but more specifically, At what point does a board's Equity policy supersede cultural tolerance?

    It's not something I currently have an answer to, but thank you for providing a forum for both the issues of Equity and Courageous Conversations.

    Paul Yip

  2. I am really interested in your question, but not sure I understand it Paul. At what point does a board's Equity policy supersede cultural tolerance?

    Can you give me an example of this idea? What do you mean by "cultural tolerance"?

  3. I agree with Theresa. I read this over several times and was not clear what you meant, Paul.