You might have heard of a concept called “group think”.
Short version: It means when everyone goes along in the same direction because that is what they are used to. They almost do it habitually. Like a routine
They forgot ‘why’ a long time ago. In fact, the ‘why’ doesn’t even matter to them anymore. Nevertheless, they will defend it to the death.
In my early years of marriage, my husband observed me cooking fried chicken one day. He had eaten my version many times.
This particular time he happened to be talking to me as I was cooking.
Now what you need to know is that I’ve lived up north and down south. But, I spent most of my childhood down south. I learned to cook down south.
My husband is a full northerner. Born, raised, and gonna stay.
So anyway, I’m preparing the chicken and it comes flouring time. I grab a plastic bag and put the flour in the bag. I washed the chicken parts and then put the parts in the bag.
As I began to shake the parts in the bag, I heard my husband yell, “What are you doing?!”
Turns out my husband found this to be very unsanitary. We had this long discussion about where I learned to cook chicken. Who asks a black woman from the south where she learned to cook fried chicken?
You know I got defensive.
“It makes the chicken tastes better”
“My Mama (hands on hip with a neck roll) taught me how to make fried chicken.”
“I’m from the south.”
Eventually, I decided whether it was floured in a bag or floured in a Tupperware container, I could make it taste great.
As long as I seasoned it and fried it up right it was going to taste just like southern fried chicken. But I got extremely defensive for no good reason. Over a bag?
All of that over fried chicken.
Now, imagine you discussing domestic and/or sexual violence.
Oh, it can and will be done. And by you.
There are a lot of effective ways to begin a presentation. One way that I like to start also helps to break through group think.
You know what is a harmless example of group think in our culture?
Sometimes what may seem motivating to you may not really be all that motivating to others. Now don’t get me wrong.
I am an avid collector of quotes, but I realize that they have their limits in the practical applications in the lives of people.
Here are a few examples
Obstacles are what you see when you lose sight of the goal.
This one has haunted me since I was in the 4th grade. A girl in my class had this phrase on her notebook. Our teacher held the notebook up and told us that we needed to remember this.
I know that she was trying to be all motivating and uplifting. But at the time I was living through hell.
I was trying to ignore the obstacles.
I was trying to have goals.
But how does one do that when your basic needs aren’t being met?
In my case it was safety. I was a 4th grade girl who wasn’t safe in her own home.
Don’t worry about the past, you don’t live there.
Well, actually for some people avoiding the past can literally kill them. For some if issues of the past aren’t addressed, we could die.
When the door of opportunity is closed, sometimes you have to kick it open.
This works if you have on shoes.
Be kind to one another. Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.
What if they are not? Can we be mean?
You can be anything you want. Is this true?
What do you want
This isn’t to say that these words are never motivating. It is only to say that they aren’t always. Yet we tweet them, we send greeting cards, we pass these words off as advice, etc. As if these words are always on time.
Now, having said all of this your audience will want to know what you want from them. Here is the message.
You can let your audience know that you understand that everyone falls into a routine without thinking about it. It is a necessary part of life.
Sexual and domestic violence calls upon us to be more thoughtful.
And then you can give a presentation only you give.
Tonya is a Social Justice Info Expert with over 23 years experience. She holds a BS in Organizational Management & Development. Her cat MiaBelle is her co-writer.
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