By: Lilly Erickson, AWC-SB Intern
Today’s recent political environment has generated feelings of uneasiness among many Americas. Regardless of our political affiliation, many of us feel uncertain about when to speak up to defend our beliefs, and how to communicate effectively to avoid offending others.
In a panel discussion held on Wednesday, March 1, a diverse group of panelists shared their insights on how to effectively communicate, without letting politics sabotage the conversation. Led by Carolyn Jabs, AWC-SB president-elect, AWC-SB welcomed panelists Judy Guillermo Newton, Senior Vice‐President and Director of Organizational Development and Human Resources at Montecito Bank & Trust, Kelly Scott, Chief Deputy DA at Santa Barbara District Attorney, and Anna Everett, Professor of Film, Television and New Media Studies at UCSB.
Changed political climate
“Many people who’d never talked about politics now want to talk about politics, and with it comes a lot of personalization—the words are harsher,” Newton said.
Since the most recent presidential election, people have seen a dramatic increases in political conversations at work. This upsurge in opinions lends itself to the potential to offend others. The panelists remarked on the difficult task of continuing to remain nonpartisan with co-workers as a team, despite the emotional unrest that appears ever-present.
Knowing when to speak up
“It’s important to weigh what battles you’re going to take,” Newton said.
Deciding when and if you should make yourself heard is not an easy task. Sometimes an issue feels so important to your own personal morals that you feel obligated to speak up. However, it’s crucial to keep in mind the costs associated.If losing your job, family, or friends is more important to you, you may want to remain silent on the subject.
Three ways to bring contentious talk into a more civil space
- Active Listening: “Silence is a pause that can minimize a charged environment,” Everett said. By taking time to listen to others, you show respect for their opinion, even if their views are different from your own. Everett suggested to first remain silent while listening to the other person’s beliefs, then repeat back what they said in order to make sure you heard them correctly.
- Self-awareness: “It’s crucial for us to be aware of what the signals are in our own bodies that make us behave in ways that might be uncivil,” Newton said. Stay aware of the way you respond to a situation, particularly if it puts you on-edge. This enables you to step back, take a moment to compose yourself, and react in a manner that facilitates constructive discussion.
- Working Towards a Common Goal: “When there are divisive political discussions, I try to make everyone find what the common goal is,” Scott said. Working towards a common goal allows team members to learn from one another and focus on the task at hand, despite their different political views.
As all three of the panelists touched upon, the key to communicating effectively in a polarized environment is taking time to listen before responding. Seeing the other’s perspective, despite their political differences, enables compassion and understanding. By following this advice, we can work with others as a team and come to mutually beneficial solutions.
Join AWC-SB for networking on Wednesday, May 3, 5-7:30 pm at Mulligans Cafe & Bar. Bring your business cards. Prepare your thirty second elevator pitch. Connect with leading women in local communications positions such as marketers, designers, writers, journalists etc.. This event is FREE so if you've never attended an AWC-SB meeting, or haven't in a while, this gives you an excellent opportunity to meet some of our local chapter members and learn what the organization is all about. Bring your friends and enjoy food and drinks at Happy Hour prices, not to mention free parking.
Wednesday, May 4, 5-7:30 pm
Mulligans Cafe & Bar
3500 McCaw Ave
Santa Barbara, CA 93105
No Host Bar
FREE to attend
Join AWC-SB for a LIVE storytelling experience on Wednesday, April 5, 5:30-7:30 pm. Sit back while you’re entertained by people sharing personal stories and enjoy wine and cheese at workzones, transformed into a cozy coffeehouse.
Wednesday, April 5, 5:30-7:30 pm
351 Paseo Nuevo 2nd floor
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
AWC-SB Members Free; Nonmembers $20; Full-time Students $10
Appetizers and wine provided
Carolyn Butcher - "To Whom it May Concern"
Carolyn, who wrote her PhD dissertation on James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, teaches critical thinking through literature at Santa Barbara City College. She has published numerous memoir pieces in print and online journals, in addition to performing personal stories three times with Speaking of Stories at Center Stage. "To Whom it May Concern" was sparked after President Trump’s “Pussy” comments, when women of all generations began sharing their own experiences of past sexual harassment or abuse.
Natalie D-Napolean - "I Used to Believe in Magic"
Natalie is a writer, singer-songwriter, and educator from Fremantle, Australia who now lives in California. She is currently working as a Laboratory Teaching Assistant at the SBCC Writing Center while also working on songs for a new album of original material.
Elaine Gale - "Red Cabbage Rising"
Elaine Gale is a California-based writer, performer, humorist, professor and journalist who loves art, artists, building community, giving back, healing, border collies, Hendry's, fish tacos and pedicures. She will perform her one-woman show, ONE GOOD EGG, directed by Rod Lathim, at Center Stage Theater May 5-7.For more info and tickets: www.onegoodeggshow.com
Valerie Burns - "Organic Warrior"
Valerie, a style consultant for home and wardrobe, and graduate of the Hollywood school of hard knocks, is a recent breast cancer survivor. She’s currently writing a book, Caution: Mermaid Crossing, about her warrior ride, and blogging about this and much more.
By: Lilly Erickson, AWC-SB Intern
Do you ever find yourself speaking in front of an audience but the words don’t come out right? You’re trying to share your message, make them believe in what you’re passionate about, but you can’t figure out what to say or how to say it.
On Wednesday, February 1, Lisa Braithwaite, founder of Speak to Engage, presented at our monthly AWC-SB meeting on how to move beyond these apprehensions to create a memorable experience for the listeners.
Lisa first emphasized the importance of engaging your audience, instead of focusing on yourself, to craft a message they won’t forget. Do this and your audience will leave the room with a drive to take action.
Crafting a emotionally engaging speech involves preparation. You must first know your two objectives: yourself and your audience. Ask yourself, what you want to achieve? Do you want media attention, or are you simply trying to build confidence in your own abilities? In terms of your audience, what do they need, want, and care about? Are they interested in money and fame, or security and recognition? What is your call to action? What do you want listeners to do as a result of your talk?
After understanding your objectives you can develop a compelling message that caters to your audience. Consider the structure of your message. Lisa pointed out, “If you don’t have a structure, you’re not taking your audience on a journey and they may not know how to get to your call to action.” Lisa described different types of structures:
- The “sandwich” technique -- cushioning bad news in the middle of your speech
- Listing chronological events
- Going global to local (e.g., the U.S. to Santa Barbara)
Keep in mind which structure would work best for your audience.
Lisa emphasized the importance of not talking about yourself when opening your speech. Rather, tell your audience why you want to speak to them. Some examples of effective openings are starting with a quote or story, leaving a cliffhanger (until your closing), or discussing a current event that pertains to your topic.
You must also have an intentional closing to your speech. Lisa warned against ending with Q&A because it kills the momentum you created. Alternatively, she suggests offering Q&A before your closing, then give your call to action to inspire your audience to take initiative.
The key to overcoming your uncertainty to effectively share your message involves connecting with your audience. Instead of focusing on the features of your message, take into account what benefits listeners will gain from your speech. Speak their language, bring them into your world, and you will, “Create a meaningful and memorable experience, and watch the results!”
Many people find speaking in front of a group nerve-racking. What if you could command the room with your presence and feel incredible satisfaction at the end of your talk? Learn how to create a memorable experience for your audience when AWC-SB presents "Speak to Engage: Audience-Centered Presenting" with Lisa Braithwaite on Wednesday, February 1, 5:30-7:30 pm at workzones in downtown Santa Barbara.
Wednesday, February 1, 5:30-7:30 pm
351 Paseo Nuevo 2nd floor
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
AWC-SB Members Free; Nonmembers $20
Wine and appetizers provided by C’est Cheese included
Before starting her public speaking coaching business in 2005, Lisa Braithwaite, a Santa Barbara native and Cate School graduate, worked in the nonprofit sector in Santa Barbara for sixteen years, developing and implementing programs, curricula, and training materials for local organizations. She has spoken to thousands of people, both youth and adults, on topics ranging from domestic violence and healthy relationships, to gender equity and Title IX, to public speaking and presentation skills.
Our country has become a more polarized political environment. Regardless of how you voted, you need a safe space to think about when, where and how you want to engage with contentious political topics. AWC-SB wants to help by offering a panel, "Communicating Effectively in a Polarized Political Environment".
Topics for discussion include:
- develop non-adversarial strategies for communication with customers, clients and colleagues
- determine boundaries between what's personal and what's professional
- decide when to avoid political conversation and when to speak up
- defuse political anxiety, hostility, aggression
Judy Guillermo Newton, Senior Vice‐President and Director of Organizational Development and Human Resources at Montecito Bank & Trust for ten years. She served as a member of the Executive Leadership Team, helped cultivate a strong organizational culture, led the Bank’s leadership development efforts including coaching members of the Senior Management Team, and directed the Human Resources and Organizational Learning Departments. Prior to Montecito Bank & Trust, Judy worked with leaders from a wide variety of organizations to create inclusive environments in which each member of the community is valued, respected, and able to fully contribute their talents.
Kelly Scott, Chief Deputy DA at Santa Barbara District Attorney. Kelly supervises the most serious felony cases in Santa Barbara. In this capacity she oversees the gang prosecution team, vulnerable victim unit including sex crimes and crimes involving domestic violence; homicides and other serious and violent crimes; real estate fraud; consumer protection; and environmental prosecutions. Kelly grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and came to California to attend Pepperdine University where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and later a law degree from Pepperdine. Kelly lives in Solvang with her husband Craig, an environmental geologist, and eleven-year-old son.
Anna Everett, Professor of Film, Television and New Media Studies at UCSB. Her former administrative positions include: Acting Associate Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Academic Policy; Chair of the UCSB Department of Film and Media Studies, Director of the UCSB Center for Black Studies. Dr. Everett is a two-time Fulbright Senior Scholar Award recipient. Her many publications include the books Returning the Gaze: A Genealogy of Black Film Criticism, 1909-1949; Learning Race and Ethnicity: Youth and Digital Media; AfroGeeks: Beyond the Digital Divide, and Pretty People: Movie Stars of the 1990s. She is finishing a new book on President Obama, social media culture and Millennials.