You're listening to Voices of Your Village. This is episode 229. We had an entire team meeting about Marie Beecham, who I get to interview here. We dove into her work and we were like, gosh, I personally love how her brain works. I love how she presents information. And one of the things that I think is so key here, is that she's really skilled at having nuanced conversations about things that we often put in categories. We're really, really good at saying something is right or wrong, it's good or bad. And Marie is so skilled at saying, let's talk about that. What's coming up for you? Finding the nuance and having conversations. And, y'all, I think the key to moving forward together collectively is learning how to have conversations with people who don't already think like we do, people who have different points of view than we do. We're really good at being in our echo chamber. It's very easy to get fired up and feel passion in a group of people who believe the same things you do. My challenge for all of us is to have more conversations with people who don't, and not to prove them wrong, not to prove our point, but to truly understand, to learn how to listen and engage thoughtfully. Marie is brilliant at this, and I'm so excited for you all to tune into this conversation that I got to have with her. All right, folks, let's dive in.
Hey there. I'm Alyssa Blask Campbell. I'm a mom with a Master's degree in Early Childhood Education and co-creator of the Collaborative Emotion Processing method. I'm here to walk alongside you through the messy, vulnerable parts of being humans, raising other humans with deep thoughts and actionable tips. Let's dive in together.
Hello, everybody. Welcome back to Voices of Your Village. Today I get to hang out with Marie Beecham. Marie is a diversity, equity, and inclusion advocate. She has empowered millions with an M, online by guiding them through the steps of becoming a change maker. Her life's work is helping people make a difference, and she teaches people to do just that on her podcast, The Change Maker. I was just telling Marie before we joined here that we had a full team meeting about Marie at Seed because so many of us follow you, Marie. And I was like, I definitely want to talk to her, and how do I pick just one thing if we're going to narrow it down and ask her to come on? Where do we go from here? So thank you. Thank you for saying yes to coming to hang out with me. I truly have been looking forward to this conversation.
I'm really excited, and I appreciate the care that you take with even seeking out learning about all these different things I like to teach about. I mean, I'm happy to be here.
Yeah, sweet. Where do you live, Marie? Where are you tuning in from or coming to me from?
I'm based in the Midwest.
The Midwest. Nice. I grew up in western New York, like south of Buffalo, on the Pennsylvania border, not far from Ohio, actually. And we would often be compared to the Midwest in terms of lifestyle. Sometimes little things that I say, like accent wise people will be like, are you from the Midwest? Yeah, we get a little bit of that.
Well, one thing that the thing that finally, as we were in this meeting, I want to talk to her about this. These are things I love that she brings to the table. What I think you are so darn good at is recognizing nuance within challenging topics. We are designed to try and box things in and to categorize and to make sense of it for our brain and say, like, oh, this belongs here. This is good, this is bad, this is whatever. And it makes it hard to have hard conversations, right. And to have growth when we're just putting things in a box and being like, check done, it's tidy, it's neat. And you're so good at recognizing nuance in topics. And I want to learn how to do this because I want to be able to model and teach it to kids, right.
To be able to show this.
Yeah, I appreciate that. And I would say that my love for nuance has not always been the case. And it was a big shift for me early in my career because in my personal life and in my early career, I was not about nuance. I was about like, let's be the good guys. Let's be on the right side of history. Let's not associate with bad people. And that was how I lived personally. And then that was also the message I shared. But when I discovered the beauty of that nuance allows me to not have to hate the people I disagree with or to not have to cut them out of my life or to not end all of these relationships that I want to have with people I love. Nuance and giving people the benefit of the doubt and having a full understanding of a range of perspectives, that wasn't a bad thing for me. It seemed scary. It seemed like, I do not want to associate with the people who I disagree with. I don't like them. And for background, my work is generally in race, racism, racial animosity, and even a little bit of political animosity that I talk about. But basically, nuance freed me up from fearing people and fearing the other side and also from hating people because I feel very strongly about not having racial prejudices and working against stereotypes. And yet I found that I had a lot of prejudices toward other people, not race based, but based on other factors. And it occurred to me like, okay, I need to not just redirect what defines our prejudices. I need to eliminate all prejudice in my heart altogether. And that's not just me being like the peacemaker of the world. I realized in a selfish way, it was actually for my good. I lived a much more grounded life, much more peace, and I didn't feel too afraid of the world and afraid of people or disagreement, conflict. So it was a life changer for me. And that's why I love to share with other people about the secret beauty and selfish benefit from seeing the best in others and breaking the whole us versus them narrative.
It's so key right. And I think that I think the word identity keeps coming up for me here. We all hold different identities, right? I was just thinking about this the other day with like instagram bios and what people choose to put in their instagram bios. It's like if I'm going to describe myself and however many characters it is or however what feels like, this is who I am. And was looking at something that was like Christian and mom and former teacher and whatever, and I was like, okay, these are things that she feels are her identity. And then for us, what those mean, right. The meaning making that we have around different identities and labels and how quickly in my brain I can jump to assumptions based off of an identity. Not just like, okay, what does it mean about this one area of their life? But then I feel like with one word it's like, all right. And I know how they voted in the last election, right?
And immediate assumptions that I can jump to. And I love that value of seeking understanding that, oh God, it's so it's a huge part of being in a relationship, right, and having the kind of relationships that can withstand conflict. Those are ones you want. And what you're talking about with Instagram bios and identity, I always call that like the bumper sticker effect. I like to make a case of, like, in my life, I was a bumper sticker person with stickers on my water bottle and all the T shirts and all these different things that, like you said, they were signposts of, this is my identity. This is how I think, this is how I vote. This is how I live. And I made a big personal push to ditch all of that. Like I tell people, get rid of your bumper stickers. Not in a super literal way, but we use these signposts and these Identifiers thinking, oh yeah, this is going to influence people, this will really sway them. And it's not the way to connect with people and get through to them is through conversation. And I think a lot of the time those sign posts or the Instagram bio or whatever, we just lead with the identifier and it actually stops conversation, communication, understanding before it could even start. And so it's hard to like you said, we strongly identify with these labels. But the way to seek understanding is to get beneath the labels, beneath the I could guess how you voted to understanding the ideas of, like, now I see what your values are. Now I understand how you're motivated by different things than I am. Now I understand how we have kind of similar concerns, but we believe in very different methods. But you never get that far when this is my identity. This is your identity, and they just do not mesh.
Yeah. Yes. And it's a practice, right? It's a practice for me to slow down and get curious and not just like, jump to that conclusion. A little while ago, we did a post on practicing consent with babies, and we do a number of posts on consent, and generally they do fine. People are like, great, yeah, I don't want to force my kid to have to hug or whatever. And we did one, and it got picked up by, certain folks had shared it in spaces that then came in, and they were like they were using words like pedophile and things like that to us. And at first I was like, whoa, like, caught off guard. And then I got to a space of curiosity, and I was like, what is it? Because I think, how is this not a shared value between us? I really got to the space. I was like, I wonder if it is. So I went into my DMs and somebody, there were a lot of DMs that were super hateful, but there was one that was a little softer and was like, I'm leaving because of this blah, blah, blah. But, like, in a softer tone. And I was like, I want to get curious here. Yeah, absolutely. Please feel free to follow whomever you'd like. Help me understand what about this post? And I'm grateful they were open to having the conversation and ended up sharing. For them, consent meant sexual consent. And so they read it as like they didn't read the post right. They thought practicing consent with babies, and for them, that meant there was some sort of sexual consent component.
With a baby. And I was like, oh, yeah, of course, if that said respect. And she was like, oh, it'd be totally different. And I was like, okay. Had I not got into curiosity, my assumption of these humans had already spiraled, and I had to come back to curiosity, and then I could be like, I do feel like most people want babies to have consensual relationships, not just in infancy, but it took that regulation for myself and curiosity to even enter into that. And that, for me, is the practice is slowing down to invite curiosity.
Right. I think curiosity is a really crucial component, and it's a value that we all hold. We all are big fans of curiosity when it's like, hey, you should be more curious about the way I think we all want to be on the receiving end of curiosity. But yeah, that example is a really good one of a lot of things get lost in language. Like you even getting to the root of, oh, this is not a values difference, this is a language difference. These words carry very different assumptions for us. It carries very different weights. And it's funny to me that you're like, there were a lot of hateful DMs I went for the softer one, but that's relatable because another thing that I say that might be a little bit of a hot take, but I think that the tone and the kindness of how we communicate things really does, on the one hand, it's a hot take. On the other hand, it's like logical that the tone matters. Like the medium affects the message and the way that you communicate. I mean, people who had the same issue with that post, one of them, their tone communicates, I hate you and I want nothing to do with you. And that's how they're going to express that they're upset about what you said and others communicate, I didn't like what you said here. I was troubled by it. And that's a whole different message. Even if they're responding to the same thing and taking the same action, I'm going to unfollow you. The tone changes everything. And we all feel that again, when we're on the receiving end of hateful or rude tone versus curious tone and open minded tone. But then you flip the script and you're supposed to be curious in that time where you're totally outraged. You can't believe a person would be that terrible, but maybe it would be us who's like, humbled and realizing, I guess I had a different take on the language used. We were thinking different things and yeah, you mentioned curiosity a few times and I think nine times out of ten, curiosity breeds humility. And humility doesn't even mean, oh my gosh, I did a whole 180. I see the world completely differently now, but it's humility of like, maybe there are decent people who see this differently than I do. Maybe great minds do think alike. Rather than seeing the world as us, the good people and them, the evil people with no morals who want to watch the world burn, we got to go beyond that. Because when I was wrapped up in a lot of animosity, I thought it was the only way to go, thought it was the only way to be a passionate, socially aware, informed person. And I just realized that was actually holding me back. Plus, when I had this animosity and I was choosing a rude tone, I was choosing these ineffective communication strategies, I was not even going to make an impact on anybody. Like, I'm not going to convince anybody. That actually does not further my cause. And so being a little bit more open minded, leaning into nuance, understanding diversity of opinion, that actually is like a prerequisite for making any kind of impact. I don't need to give up my convictions, but my convictions are only going to work if I also understand how people think when they don't hold those same convictions.
100%. And I think what it breeds it's just, you end up preaching to the choir, right? You're not going to change this person's mind as I attack. We know that fear and shame aren't going to actually change the way that they think about this in any manner. It's going to push them away. It's going to stop the conversation. This speaks so much to me. So we have the book coming out later this year, Tiny Humans, Big Emotions. And one of the things that I said to our book team was I was like, I don't want to preach the choir with this. I don't want people who are already into respectful, conscious parenting to be the only ones wow that are snagging this. That feels important to me from an impact standpoint.
So when we're looking at who to partner with, collaborations, press, et cetera, that really matters to me. And from the lens of like, yeah, I don't just want to tell people who are already on board a message that they're like, Woohoo. I mean, also happy to support people with more tools who are already on board and want more tools and support, but I don't just want that. And in order to not just want that, it means for me that I need to be able to be open to conversations with humans who don't necessarily even maybe even share the same values. Not even like we have different approaches to it, but maybe we don't share the same values. And what would it look like for me to really be curious about their values and what drives them? And I think more importantly, what are they afraid of? And I did a workshop for dads a few years ago. It was pre COVID and it was an in person workshop. I partnered with this cool organization here called Dad Guild. So it was dads only, and it filled up in like a couple hours, all of our spots were gone. We were like, oh, wow, cool. Like, dads are really interested in this emotional development work. That's great. And then as we were getting closer to the event, I started getting these emails from partners, primarily moms in hetero relationships who were like, my husband, I signed my husband up for this. He's coming. Can you make sure to cover X, Y and Z? And I was like, oh my gosh. Never in my history of presenting have I had a dad reach out and say, like, my wife is coming to this parenting workshop. Here are her areas of growth. Can you make sure you hit on that? Right? Never has it happened. And I was like, oh, my gosh, this is wild. And then ultimately, I asked right at the beginning I shared that with dads at the beginning of the workshop, and I asked them, and it was like all but two in the room were there because someone signed them up to be there.
And in the end, there was a line out the door for questions. It was awesome. We had an incredible hang. But what it meant for me was getting curious about their fears and their experience and why do they didn't want to be in the room in the first place? What was turning them off from being in the room in the first place? Yeah, I think that curiosity is huge for seeking to understand. Can you chat for a sec, because cancel culture comes up for me here, and I find myself living in this, too, where not just the fear of, but also the like, yeah, let's tear that thing down. That was a terrible ad to put out. Burn it all the ground. And I have to regulate that as well. And so can you speak to how cancel culture plays a role in this here and now, in terms of being able to find nuance.
Yeah, I mean well, I really appreciate what you were talking about with impact and thinking about your book and who it should reach. And for you to even say, I want to go to the places where people are not already nodding along before I open my mouth, that's like exactly right. That's where the impact will be made. Because even with my work, I found that all the people who flock to me are the people who love what I have to say because they think how I think and they think my ideas are great. And then I found myself full of yeah, just looking at a bunch of smiling faces who are happily nodding, and I'm like, dang it, I'm just doing the thing again. I'm in the echo chamber. This is how this is working. But then to venture out of the echo chamber, it's a scary thing. And that's essentially what happens usually with cancel culture. I shouldn't say usually. Often with cancel culture, you get canceled once something makes its way out of the echo chamber. So it's the big post that gets lots of attention and then it gets picked up by somebody else. Or it's the thing that's said and it makes its way to these other people who aren't in your corner, haven't seen the whole body of work, aren't giving you the benefit of the doubt because this is all that they've seen or all that they've heard. Cancel culture is a tough topic, and I've talked about it a lot, and I usually talk about it in terms of canceling someone because their views aren't racially or socially aware enough, that kind of thing. And it differs in terms of public figure versus at the personal level. And I think that there is totally a case for, oh yeah, withhold your support from influential people who are promoting terrible things like, yeah, sure, you have that power, go for it. I'd say I've become more empathetic toward public figures since I myself have become one and just being like some pretty ruthless being on the receiving end of some ruthless animosity where it's like, no, that's not what I meant. And you just like, do better. And it's like you didn't even read the whole thing. It does get difficult. I've grown an empathy toward the public figure, but I think the cancel culture that I think is relevant is at the person to person level. And people would say that's not even cancel culture. And it's like, yeah, I agree. We could call it something else. I could call it the cut them out of your life approach. And I've seen this play out where the person gets pushed out of the friend group when it's like, I don't know, elections are coming up or something, or the person gets cut out of the group chat or cut out of your life, or you're not going to show up to Thanksgiving this year, whatever it is. And that's what I really take issue with because sure, cancel the influential person, whatever you want to do. I think that is a problem of like, let's be gracious, whatever. But at the personal level, the real issue is that that type of canceling or cutting people out, it makes such big promises about like, this will lead to change, this will teach them a lesson, and it seriously under delivers on that it doesn't play out. I don't know. I just thought it was like locking someone away until they can get the money to pay you back. Well, doing the one thing actually prevents the result that you want to happen. So if you're going to cut someone out of your life because you think that they're not open minded enough and they don't understand you and they don't have the right ideas that you have, well, why are you going to ostracize them from the person in their life who has those ideas or who could help them or who could teach them or who could walk alongside them. That's your role. And the attitude I always hear is like, I don't owe it to them. I don't owe them anything. Whenever I share about like lean in and teach the people in your life, help them, if not you, then who? People are always like, well, you don't know my family. Well, you don't know my neighbors, you don't know my community. And it's like, right, I don't. You do. You have the in. And even if you don't think you owe it to them, which nobody thinks they owe it to them. Nobody's like, oh, I would love to take up this task. Everybody's like, I'm not going to give them any of my time. If you don't feel like you owe it to them, then I say stop thinking about them and how they'll receive it and whatever. Think about you. How can I stay true to my values? How can I live and speak with integrity? How can I make sure that, like, I have a no prejudice policy coming out of my mouth, a no prejudice policy in my conversations? And it's kind of that thing of like when you're trying to draw boundaries and you're trying to boundary other people's behaviors, it's going to lead to frustration versus when you're like, I will not let these kinds of things be said without me saying something, doing something, like, whatever. You need to focus on you because that's where you can totally control it. And that's always why my advice is like, oh, well, they don't know their stuff yet and they're not going to listen to me. I'm like, but do you? Because if you do, then you're you're accountable for your actions and how you carry yourself. You know, like, you can be, you absolutely can walk away. You can use your judgment, whatever it is. But I think a lot of the times people are like, they wouldn't listen. You don't even know that because you assumed that. And so you shut yourself up before you said anything. And so maybe they wouldn't listen. But the thing I can't stand is like, the quiet back out of people's lives where you get a sense of their identities. You get a sense of how they vote, of who they are. And so you just angrily, quietly tiptoe away rather than even having any kind of communication about it, where you could try to understand each other better.
Yeah, I think we do this as parents and teachers and caregivers a lot, too, where we are, like, we will put the onus on the child to get calm so that we can get calm or for their behavior to change so that we can feel a certain way. And taking responsibility for, like, oh, I own my tools for regulation. And yet their behavior might be triggering. Sure, when they yell, I hate you, it's triggering. And I'm responsible for my regulation and bringing that calm and owning that. And when I look at this, I think I have a Facebook messenger, which is obviously one of the best places to have one of these conversation with a friend of mine who I grew up with in high school. And she had shared something. It was around like, Roe v. Wade stuff. And she was like, very adamantly pro life and we should never so I just messaged her and I was like, help me understand what your goal is with this and what you want to see happen, where it's coming. I just truly wanted to learn, because I felt like, I'm not here to give her an article. I, for one second put myself in her shoes. Like, if she just delivers me sources that I don't give a shit about, I'm not going to change my mind, right? That's not going to change my mind. Or, like, her statistics from her sources, I'm not in alignment with that's not going to do it for me. And so I was like, I just want to learn. And so I asked her, and she shared. I believe that it's a baby from conception and blah, blah, blah. And I was like, totally. That makes sense to me. If that's your belief system, you should fight like hell for kids to survive and to be advocated for. And I was like, help me understand what we do with things like and I shared my personal experience. I had a miscarriage, and I took medicine for the fetus passage. No heartbeat. We'd done all the tasks, blah, blah. And it didn't pass. And then COVID hit. And it was at the very beginning of COVID and my body kept bleeding, and then I was hemorrhaging, and then I was losing a lot of blood. And then after months of this, they were doing blood tests to test my HCG levels, and it was just hanging out at, like, 16, and the goal is below five. And so they did an ultrasound and found, like, yes, there's a piece of placental tissue or fetal tissue or something still in there, and we would have to do a DNC. And at this point, I'd been pregnant for months. And so under what she was supporting, I in some states, wouldn't qualify for a DNC, right? And there was no baby inside of me anymore, right? Like, there was a piece of tissue left that wasn't growing anything, and my body couldn't get rid of. So just help me understand, what do
we do for situations like this? And under this, there would be states I wouldn't have, and we got to have a back and forth about it and where I still honored her values of, like, totally. If that's a value of yours and that's a belief of yours, definitely fight for that. And what about these exceptions? And, like, here was my personal one, and she was like, well, we should have an exception for blah, blah, blah, right? And then under this, those exceptions are gone. And so how do we build that in? But I think part of the problem is when person to person, we don't seek to understand, we seek to convert, right?
That's a good way to put it.
And guilty as well. That's something I have to especially if I'm dysregulated, I'm like, I don't, and I'm not owning my own regulation. It's really easy for me to write that off and just be like, oh, they're not going to get it. They don't understand blah, blah, but they're not trying to come around and take a step back. I'm not trying to come around to their side either.
Right. You're just trying to make this person who you disagree with less of a villain in your hearts and in your mind. I always talk about that, of like, the world is a scary place when you feel like half the people anywhere you go are villains. You're going through life, like, full of angst and very on edge. And so listening to understand rather than conversing to convert, as you put it, it helps you, and it helps them. It helps you to no longer see them like a villain. And when you no longer see them like a villain, you don't need to treat them like one. You'll find yourself not jumping to interrupt them so much. You'll find yourself not so defensive. And even what you described with that woman from high school, I bet your sincere desire to learn really disarmed her in a topic that is so quick to pick up your arms and get ready to fight. And I think what you're talking about with really, truly listening, I think something that makes it really hard, even with canceling at the personal level, is a lot of people classify a lot of things as harmful, that it would be harmful to even hear the other perspective. And that's something I get a lot on my podcast. Like, half the episodes are like, okay, I'm going to argue one thing, then I'm going to argue the exact opposite thing, and I want you to decide what you make of it. I just did this in an episode on microaggressions. I explained a lot of different, what microaggressions are and how it subtle acts of racism. I gave a lot of personal examples. Then in the back half of the episode, I explained issues with the concept of microaggressions itself and why people don't like the idea of microaggressions, why they feel like it's an accusation, why it can lead to a sense of confusion, why, like, all of these different things. And I always even get a little scared doing that, even though it's kind of my job. Nuance is kind of my thing. Because we've all bought into this idea that you need to pick a side and to even hear the other side, those are the bad people. To hear the other side is harmful. That's not good for you. You're not going to be okay. You need to plug your ears la la la. Because they're not just wrong, they're evil. And so what you did, sincerely trying to listen, even when you have serious personal experience and you completely disagree, what you did is an affront to that idea that hearing out the other side will be harmful. And I think that's so important because we need to be able to separate out harm. And this is a danger to me. And discomfort of like, this will challenge me, but I'll be okay. And I can do it. And this can even be good and valuable for me, even if it is uncomfortable. And that's something that's hard to explain when my whole thing is like, antiracism. Because when I say, oh, I do antiracism work and I like to talk through different sides, people are like, what are the sides antiracist and racist? That does not seem good at all. And I'm like, no. What I mean is people on any given issue have a diverse range of perspectives. And it's not just these buckets of right and wrong. It comes down to methods. It comes down to different values. It comes down to all of these different factors. And so I applaud you. I commend you for even seeing how facing those fears and facing them like, oh, let's see how this goes. Even giving that person an opportunity to share how they think, like you said, without having this ulterior motive of like, and then let me sneak attack them.
That is how change is made. That's how impact is really made. I think that's an issue with the person to person cancel culture of like when, it used to be for me that if somebody would start to say something, like at dinner or in a public thing, I just start looking around like, oh boy, this is bad. This is dangerous. I can't be around this. I can't hear it. They're super evil. I'm not even going to say what I think. I just need out and I need to never talk to them again. And I get this sense of anxiety and fear, and it was holding me back from making any kind of change. It was holding me back from having strong relationships in my life. It was holding me back from having a deep, abiding, unshakable peace. It was holding me back from having a general sense of hope that, yeah, the world's a pretty good place. And I liked my role in it. Like, having a fear of conflict, a fear of that disagreement, a fear of people who see the world a different way. I did not realize all the ways that that derailed my personal life. And so that's another big reason that I think it's just so helpful to seek understanding for the sake of understanding, not just seek campaigning or seek convincing, because understanding others, you don't realize how much it helps you. Helps you to not be chained up by fear and anxiety and hatred. It helps you to not be like, I'm losing faith in humanity.
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Yeah. And I think you're right that there is this kind of pervasive, like it's even harmful to have that conversation with that person type of thing.
I feel it more on a business level than I do on a personal level. I grew up in a low income farm town in western New York, a rural farm town, and I then moved into New York City, and Boston and now I'm in Vermont. And the community and culture that I'm surrounded by in Burlington, Vermont, like the home of Bernie Sanders, is much different than the community and culture that I grew up in. And I think it's just personally been helpful for me to have different experiences like that and to love and respect. And yeah to love and respect. I feel like humans who have different methods or values or things like that than I do. I think that just like life experience for me. My personal experience with that has been helpful on the personal side. Yeah, it's the business side where, like, gosh, I was following someone on social media, and I shared somebody that I do respect and I've learned so much from, and I shared something of theirs in our stories, and I got bombarded with DMs, like, that person's racist. And there's all this blah blah to show, and I was like, okay.
Exactly. And I think that there is this fear of like, you can't even have that conversation. Yeah, I couldn't possibly engage with that other human without it meaning that I'm subscribing to anything that they also subscribe to. Right. I want to call bullshit on that.
If that's the geese and half the people I'm friends with are like liabilities for my business image, that's probably a big reason you guys don't know anything about my personal life. It is scandalous the diverse opinions that I think valuable to surround myself with, that's a good thing! Similarly for me, one time I shared a quote about kindness from this humanitarian saint person and oh my gosh, I thought I was going to lose it all. People were very upset with me. People shared all of these different exposes on this person. I'm not even going to mention because that's not the relevant piece. It's just this idea of you are guilty by association. And I understand that to some degree. If I said, oh yeah, this person who's known for their hatred and their bigotry and this and this, well, I like their fashion sense, so I'm a huge fan of them, that would be an issue. That would be so it's not that you can totally separate out the person and the whatever, but yeah, I think that attitude trickled into our personal lives. So they don't want you to share a post from somebody who's been known to say this problematic thing. Well, then also in their lives, they have those same eyes of like, where are the problematic people and how do I make sure I'm far away from them because I'd be guilty by association. And then you are leaving all of the places where you could be making a change. You are backing out of all of the places that are ripe for change making and for impact. Because, yeah, I think it's so unhelpful, it's so backwards because even with my work being antiracism, the feedback I always get is like, well, I'll only educate someone, I'll only share about antiracism if they're antiracist and they agree with me and it's like, how's that going to work? Let me know how that'll play out because you can't have the prerequisite be total agreement or else your conversations are pointless. And that's the whole echo chamber thing. So I relate the whole business level of that kind of thing happens. But I also have tried to own that. If my whole thing is like, I like nuance and I like diversity of thought. And I think it's really valuable for us. And I'm okay with bringing some of that scandal, if you will, upon myself, because that's what it looks like for me to live out the values that I preach about. Like, hey, let's be uncomfortable with some difference in opinion. And then if people are upset with me for that, well, that's kind of what I'm trying to teach you how to do, is to be okay with that discomfort, to manage that and to work through it. And it's funny to me how many DM conversations you've described to me. I personally had my DMs off for a few years, so I don't have all the DM change of heart things that you do. But one for me was at this time, I had a similar thing like what you shared earlier. Hateful DMs hateful DMs hateful DMs One that was very sincere and genuine and curious. And that DM led to a change in trajectory for me. I mean, I had made this post, some people hated it, some people loved it. And I got a DM from someone who had genuine concern of, I always appreciate what you have to say. I appreciate this. I appreciate this. I appreciate this. However, with this post, I can't see how this could be a good thing. I can't see how this could be a good message. And his very genuine feedback for me was, it seems like you're not leaving any room at all for any amount of disagreement. Correct me if I'm wrong. Show me how disagreement is allowed. Show me how this and the post was about red flags in conversations about racism. And the red flags, I mean, some of them are like, agree to disagree. And it's like, this just pivots the conversation. What about-ism this is just a way to and I see where I was coming from with that post, but when I got this sincere DM of like, are we allowed to see anything differently at all? Please help me understand. If not, I'll listen. Their choices were in my hands, and I was just like, oh, my gosh, you are correct, and I need to do some serious thinking here. And this was before my whole let's embrace nuance, this free. nuance.
Yeah. It was really a turning point that made me reflect of like, yeah, can I actually say that a conversation can only happen if we already agree? Wait a minute. I feel like something in here doesn't work. This feels a little bit circular, but I own everything I've said. It's my responsibility. I steward, whatever. I'm not blaming anybody else. But I was really reflecting and echoing what I heard around me. I was absorbing it and picking up very popular ideas and communicating them in a compelling way as effectively as I could. But it took me stepping back and being like, let me make sure that I'm using my effective communication and all this stuff to communicate the best and truest and most helpful ideas, not just the ones that people like to hear the most. And so that post, red flags and conversations about race, it went so viral. Some people really liked that. Some people really needed it. And in retrospect, I realized I'm essentially teaching people to make note of red flags. And the call to action was basically to never talk to them again and not waste your time on them. Don't waste your breath. They're not open to change. They should know better and don't have them in your life. I've done a total 180 just realizing that, yeah, we want to make an impact, then we need to rethink our methods. And yeah, that's just like an example of very kind communication. It pivoted me. It kind of turned me in a different direction, and I think everybody has the power to do that. You don't need to be articulate and skillful with the platform. Whatever. The thing that always convicts anybody is first feeling understood in the first place. Understanding someone you don't need to understand just so you can hit them with your ideas, but you're definitely not going to convince anybody of anything if you don't even understand what their values are to appeal to those values in the first place.
Totally. I was just thinking one of the things that comes up a lot in our parenting community is this idea of like, my co parent isn't on board with this approach and how do we get them on board and what do I do and whatever. And genuinely I'm like, you don't. Right. Like, if you're going into that conversation truthfully with like, my goal is to bring them to my side. If you take a step back, if they came into a conversation with you with that goal, what would the outcome be? Right? Like, are you willing to completely abandon your parenting approach to go to theirs? They're probably not willing tonight in this conversation to completely abandon theirs and come to you. As I was just listening to, I think how powerful it is if you have a co parent or a partner in this who isn't on the same page, who has a different approach to get curious, to genuinely without trying to change their mind or send them to an Instagram account or send them a podcast episode to listen to or whatever or prove them wrong. If you genuinely got curious about what it is that they are afraid of, what their goals and values are, maybe you have the same goal, maybe you don't. Maybe their goal is for a kid who is going to be as safe as possible in the world and that might mean for them that the kid isn't expressing feelings openly and whatever. Maybe that's what safety means to them. Maybe you don't have the same shared goal. But I think that genuine curiosity just goes a long way in not just being in your echo chamber. And I love that you were open to it and you're 1000% right. And this, I feel like, can weigh into tone policing conversation, but tone matters if we just think of the nervous system, right? If I'm talking to you like this, your guard can be down. If I'm like, Marie! And I get fired up, your guard is going to go up.
Just get to it man,
Exactly. And so if I come in like guns ablaze and fists are up to have a conversation with my husband about all of his areas of growth, he is not going to be as receptive as if I come in and my tone is regulated and I'm calm. And I'm truly curious the way that person worded that DM to you was a pivotal moment because of the way they worded that DM to you. Otherwise that's a sliding door moment. Right? Like you miss that opportunity when somebody comes in on the attack.
Right. And I think that similar to what you're talking about with co parenting and not trying to push forward your agenda or whatever. It makes me think of how I've learned more from good criticism than I have from bad criticism or even from good praise. Like, good criticism is where change happens. It's how change happens. So even in that co parenting conversation. If you go to them and you say, I really want to understand you, I'm not trying to convince you, I'm not trying to turn you around, help me understand you, maybe even if that conversation is going really well, you can dive into what are your concerns with the way that I do things? And what is your criticism of my ideas of the way that this happens? How do you take issue with that? And obviously, like you said, if it's like a heated conversation, that might not be the time to open up the door for criticism, but if you are having a really good heart to heart, good criticism could even help you. Not that you're going to abandon everything you know and everything that you think, but for me, my work has always been antiracism. So I thought, there's no criticism here. You're either anti racist or you're racist. So I know I'm right. So how should I I shouldn't take any criticism. Like, guys, I'm the good guy here. And for me, just realizing even if you're on the right path, even if you're doing something you really believe in and you stick to that path, good criticism helps you to walk it better. And I used to take criticism of my antiracism methods or my tone or whatever as, wow, they're anti me, and they're not about me. They're not in support of what I'm trying to do here. But a really big shift like that kind DM was like, I don't think that they're against what I'm trying to do here. I think they're trying to help me do it better. I think they're trying to help me see the weak points, and they want to help me improve at this message that I have. They want to help me improve the way that I go about this mission. And I mean, that's easy to say, oh, guys, criticism is for your good. It'll make you better. But actually, all of the pivotal times in my journey, in my career, my personal life, they've always been prompted by listening to really helpful feedback. Because even when you're on the right path, I'm a passionate person. I can be really I don't want to say intense, but yeah, I can be passionate. And you can end up in a ditch even when you're on the right path, pulled too far one direction, too far the other direction. So I think that you got to have those little things keeping you on the path, and that, again, humbles you and opens you up to the ideas of just takes you out of the I'm on the good team mentality versus I'm on the bad team. And it takes you to a place of there aren't teams here, and we're walking toward this end. We're all walking toward the same end, and we could all use guidance and encouragement and feedback and direction. So it's a long term shift to make and yeah, similar to what you said, it comes back to tone, I think, quite a bit. And tone is effective. No, sorry, I was just going to say, yeah, tone is one of the most effective things. It speaks volumes for saying that's what actually communicates what you're trying to do, even more than the words you choose your tone communicates. I am so pissed off. And I don't care what you say or your tone communicates. I really genuinely care about you. Help me to understand.
And I think so powerful to teach our kids, to model to our kids and to show them that disagreement isn't bad to have right. And that we can help them be in uncomfortable situations and conversations and not just avoid them, but be able to navigate them and what a beautiful skill set that is. And we get to practice in front of them. We get to practice with them, they get to practice with us, providing that opportunity to model regulation and curious tone and curiosity in general. And even, I think of opportunities to narrate, like, oh, that person seemed really upset at the grocery store. I wonder what's going on for them today? And just like modeling, little curiosity about someone else's experience without judgment in ways where we're not in a disagreement, and how to get curious just across the board.
Yeah, that's a great point with modeling, I think that modeling behavior and modeling yeah, it just speaks volumes because you're not forcing anything. You're not trying to hit people over the head with it or hit your children over the head with this information. But yeah, I think that modeling really comes with so much follow through. And when you admire someone, look up to them, respect them, feel cared for, then you want to emulate their behavior. So, yeah, that's a great point.
Yeah. Thank you. Thank you for being here with me. I feel like I could continue this conversation with so many things coming up.
I love this conversation.
Me too. My biggest takeaways for myself today were really that seeking to understand is so important and that fear of feeling associated with being seen as associated with, et cetera, people outside of our identity groups or our belief systems. I'm putting those in quotes and being able to acknowledge that fear and be in the discomfort of engaging with others who believe different things than we do, value different things than we do, live different lives than we do, and how important that is in this time, especially in this time where we found ourselves in such siloed camps. Thank you for doing this incredible work, Marie. Thank you for being a change maker and leading change makers for folks who are tuning in today. Where can they find you, follow you, tune in, learn from you, pay you?
Yeah. Well, I've thoroughly enjoyed this conversation. I feel like you've given me so many insights about parenting. I'm not a parent myself. I don't know if I'm allowed to say that.
You are allowed.
But yeah, you've definitely given me a lot of food for thought. So I've enjoyed this conversation a lot. I also host a podcast. It's called The Change Maker Podcast and I talk a lot about similar things that have come up today with effective communication seeking understanding. I talk a lot about different social issues, specifically social issues related to race and just how to make sense of them. I'm a big fan of showcasing a lot of viewpoints and helping you form a big like and helping you decide what you think of it by just showing you all the different ways that you can think of it. So The Change Maker podcast, you can find me there. I'm on Instagram @mariebeech and you can also support me on Patreon at patreon.com/mariebeech or all this information is on my website. So if you Google me, Marie Beecham, then you can get all the rundown there. And I also do diversity, equity and inclusion presentations, workshops, trainings and you can find information about booking me through my website as well.
Love it. And we'll link to all of that in the show notes and in the blog post. Marie, I feel so grateful to have had the opportunity to chat with you. Like I said, you were a whole team meeting about what's our ask going to be hang out. So thank you. Thanks for saying yes and hanging out with me.
Yeah, thank you so much. This was a pleasure.
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