Climate change is an important topic that warrants action, not just attention from people all over the world. Despite its urgency, some people aren’t as informed (or are misinformed) about our planet’s environmental state. They could be skeptics, individuals who are aware but don’t care, and those who are plainly unaware.
So how do we strike up a conversation about climate change without sounding demeaning, or perhaps even arrogant? The key is to be empathetic. We were all once ignorant before we became consciously aware of what’s going on.
Manage Your Audience’s Expectations
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People may think that climate change is an issue meant for only our political leaders to mull over. As a result, some may not comprehend its impact on a more micro-scale. This affects their conscious understanding of the matter and that’s why it’s important to manage your audience’s expectations.
Use plenty of analogies from everyday life to illustrate the uncertainties and events. Tell it in a way that they will understand.
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Everyone will have different views on climate change and depending on how you see it, you can either hold a very fruitful discussion or a very heated debate. The latter will get you nowhere because no one likes a lecture.
To get your messages across, introduce the subject matter casually to measure their resistance first (refer to the previous point). Be sure to speak in a friendly tone and with an open mind.
Find Common Ground and Empathise
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Following that, once you’ve got a sense of their world, understand where they’re coming from and what may have shaped their mindsets.
Empathise with the person and you’ll be able to meet in the middle instead of having disagreements. You may not be able to evangelise but at least you’re helping someone to be informed about climate change, even if they don’t share your views.
Don’t Be Condescending
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The best way to communicate effectively is to first listen to people’s views, their concerns and empathise.
Don’t speak down to someone. Instead, encourage them because as an informed individual, you’re in the position to help others understand issues in a way that THEY can.
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Ask people to envision a future that they want to see and how they think climate change can directly affect their lives. Point them in the direction where their actions are able to control the effects of climate change.
These actions can be as simple as recycling, using less plastic and being more conscious in their efforts to reduce waste. People need to be reminded that everyone is a stakeholder and decision-maker who has the opportunity to make positive and powerful differences in regards to climate change.
Show Don’t Just Tell
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Don’t make people feel bad and useless. If someone is really in the dark, explain nicely and provide examples of how you’ve been beating climate change. Do this to encourage others to go green and not to boast about your abilities and knowledge on global warming.
Offer simple solutions and show them your reusable bags, bottles and cutlery. Show them the things that you do and highlight how simple it is to counter the ill effects of climate change.
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Even though it’s not easy to maintain a positive outlook, be optimistic when sharing about climate change. There is evidence that communities, organisations and individuals are motivated and determined to reduce the effects of global warming. For starters, The Global Cooling Prize is looking for innovative air conditioning systems that reduce environmental impact by 5%. Organisations are also working towards providing more transparency as they source for sustainable and ethically-produced palm oil. In wildlife news, new Javan Rhino calves have been spotted in Ujung Kulon National Park, boosting their numbers! So be hopeful.There is still goodness out there!
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Following the previous point, being honest is important! We all know that being eco-friendly isn’t easy. We have to make certain lifestyle choices and grow to be comfortable with the changes. Furthermore, real and pessimistic news on climate change is broadcasted all the time. So, there’s no point in painting a perfect picture for your audience.
The key is to be sincere, share your real-life experiences and encourage your audience to effective global changemakers.
Have an Open Mind
Climate change may not be a popular conversation topic among the older generation as global warming wasn’t a major issue back in the day. Thus, there are many variables to why climate change isn’t something people are immediately on-board with. People have to experience it in a way that prompts them to change their mindsets.
So don’t give up, talk to people more, share interesting updates on climate change, be hopeful and encouraging. Be sincere and forthcoming. People will appreciate it.