December 18, 2023

Talking climate: tips for the holidays

two women walking along a street, talking climate

With holiday celebrations fast approaching for many of us, it means we might soon be seeing folks we don’t always agree with.

From political divides to what we’re interested in, it can be hard to connect on the topic with some. But, as we both know, we need as many people as possible to join our fight for climate justice.

So if it does come up, we’ve put together some tips – backed up by science – to help you have better conversations over the holidays. And hopefully get people on board. 

  • Speak to lived experiences 

As tempting as it is to launch into facts about tipping points, melting ice caps or polar bears – they don’t speak to what most people see in their everyday lives.

A better way to get someone interested is to speak about what you’re experiencing directly.

Perhaps it’s the record-breaking extreme temperatures, the frequent flooding, droughts or wildfires you experienced this year. Whenever it is, root your conversation in familiar experiences.

  • Connect with emotion and tap into shared values

There’s so much scientific evidence that shows stories and emotion persuade people – not facts. So use your story to talk about the climate crisis.

Think about sharing when you first became concerned or why you took action. Sharing this will help you connect deeply with whoever you are talking with. Share your own story into climate activism – what drove you to take action?

Parents love hearing about their children’s passions, so if you’re talking to your mum or dad, show them exactly how much this means to you.

When we try to persuade someone on an issue we care about we often use moral arguments. But people have different morals. When you talk to someone about climate change, ask yourself, am I presenting this in a way that will resonate with them?

For example, if you are talking to someone who enjoys walking or the outdoors, you could center your conversation around the importance of protecting nature and keeping the environment healthy.

  • Listen

Ask your friends and family questions about their own experiences.

Make listening your most important task in any conversation. You are not a preacher, you are here to listen and offer a chance to channel what they feel into something powerful, if they want to.

  • Offer hope

The writer and activist Rebecca Solnit, said that, sometimes, we’re really bad at celebrating our victories. She’s right.

But our movement has had lots of victories. They are strong reminders that we are not powerless. By remembering and talking about them, we can have hope. And hope that things can change can inspire action.

There’s also a huge amount of research that hope is actually good for us. So share some inspiring stories with whomever you are talking to.

If you’re looking for some, check out our Power Up actions around the world. 

I hope some of these prove helpful for you. But remember, sometimes, you just won’t persuade people – and that’s ok. So practice empathy and understanding on yourself too. We could all do with being a bit kinder to ourselves sometimes. You’ve done your best no matter what!

Whatever your celebrations look like this end of year, from all of us at 350, we wish you safe, hopeful and happy times.

More reading:

Personal Climate Stories Can Persuade | Yale Climate Communications 

The Role of Narrative in Science | Advanced Science News.

How to talk about climate change with family and friends over the holidays | Climate Outreach

The power of framing: It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it | Science | The Guardian

How to talk about climate change: Ask questions | Yale

Ten ways to confront the climate crisis without losing hope | The Guardian

How Hope Can Keep You Happier and Healthier

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