Aim to have a real conversation – a rich, lively exchange of stories and ideas, hopes and fears.
Don’t lecture or set out to teach people – a good conversation is a balance between talking and listening. Be curious and open to learning. Listen to understand, not to reply.
Not everyone’s had the chance to really think about climate change and come to terms with what it means – so listen as they grapple with the issue. Avoid correcting them or arguing back. Instead, ask questions and try to understand the person’s underlying feelings or ideas.
Occasionally you might talk to someone who tries to shut down the conversation, grill you on facts or even lash out. Others might respond by feeling despondent or hopeless, fed up or bleak.
These responses are totally understandable: climate change is big, frightening and hard to imagine. Humans often try to avoid thinking about things that make us feel anxious or guilty.
Rather than approaching the conversation as an advocate aiming to get people on board, try being a moderator, giving people space to explore climate damage and what it means, without judgement or pressure.
Check out this video for more on the art of listening!