How to Have Difficult Conversations Regarding a Discrimination Situation: 2021 Governor’s Conference on Volunteerism

Presented by James McKim, Managing Partner, Organizational Ignition

Session Description:

Someone says something to you that is disrespectful of your heritage. You witness behavior that has sexist overtones. You observe a conversation where someone demeans a person because of their racial identity. Besides your legal and organizational policy obligations, you need to have a difficult conversation with the person who caused the affront. But how do you have that conversation in a kind and effective way that has a positive outcome?

Combining recent research by cognitive neuroscientists such as Dr. Lara Boyd and Dr. Michael Gazzaniga;  conversation experts such as Douglas Stone and Bruce Patton; and discriminatory behavior experts such as Resmaa Menachem, and Iris Bohnet this session will use videos and activities to give you insights into when and how to have these difficult conversations as well as tips on what to do when you see a discriminatory situation occurring.

Session Goals:

By the end of this session, participants will have learned how to:

  • describe why offensive situations arise
  • feel the role trauma plays in contentious situations
  • determine when to have difficult conversations
  • identify the three (3) conversations in a difficult conversation
  • leverage the steps for having a difficult conversation



James Mckim is an author, consultant, facilitator, speaker, and advisor working with both private sector and public sector entities internationally in many industries to spark efficiency and growth through aligning people, processes, and technology.

He currently serves on several Boards playing leading roles such as Chair of the NH PBS Finance Committee, Chair of the Episcopal Church’s National Executive Council Committee Anti-Racism, and President of the Manchester NAACP.