Ep 84: Passion, Conflict, Diversity, and Leadership (with Parisa Parsa)

by Joan Garry

Are you read to develop the skills, and manage the conflict that accompanies passionate and diverse points of view? As a leader, this is critical!


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Be careful what you wish for.

You want a diverse work environment. And you should.

But then you had better prepare yourself to develop the skills to manage the conflict that accompanies passionate and diverse points of view.

And for most of us, conflict is not fun. We avoid it whenever possible. After all, it’s triggering to be told you are wrong.

While normalizing conflict might sound counterintuitive, the Executive Director of Essential Partners, Parisa Parsa, says training and equipping leaders to welcome conflict and meet difficult conversations is a way to build capacity, become sustainable and is critical to growth.

Ok, so even if you agree with this concept in theory, how do you move from dialogue to action?

Have a listen. You will find that this podcast will offer tools, techniques and mechanisms to respond effectively to conflict and extend beyond your current comfort zone.

About Parisa Parsa

Rev. Parisa Parsa is Executive Director of Essential Partners, advancing the work of the Public Conversations Project.

Essential Partners’ mission is to offer concrete skills and facilitation to communities in divisive conflict over issues of belief, identity or world view, and works nationally and internationally to train facilitators and equip communities for constructive conversations and more effective collaboration across difference.

Before joining Essential Partners, Parisa served in many roles in nonprofit and religious leadership. As an ordained minister, she served in community based ministry with the UU Urban Ministry in Boston, the Faithful Fools Street Ministry in San Francisco, and as the coordinator for a group of urban social justice ministries known as the Urban Disciples. She for 10 years was the senior minister of First Parish in Milton, MA. Throughout her career, she has taught at seminaries and mentored secular and religious leaders. She currently serves on the board of Meadville Lombard Theological School.

Parisa is originally from Iran, and was raised at the intersection of Islam and Christianity, Persian culture and American norms. She enjoys mixes of people, ideas and arts that bring about both friction and harmony, and learning from the ways we can engage our differences in service of creative, life-giving solutions to the world’s problems. She lives in Arlington, MA, with her husband Enrique Silva and their two sons. Together they enjoy soccer, music and movies. When she can, Parisa loves getting out to the theatre or into the woods.

NOTE: When we recorded this podcast Parisa was ED and has since left to pursue independent consulting.

In this episode:

  • Conflict resolution or disagreeing with respect and shared purpose?
  • The implications of an increase in the demand for people to be seen and heard
  • The pressures of inclusiveness
  • Being with each other versus being right
  • Staying curious while engaged in conflict
  • How you define conflict affects how you react to it
  • Can you move forward on organizational goals while working on conflict resolution?
  • Naming the tensions and “gray areas” in the moment
  • What are the responsibilities associated with stating that decisions are richer with a diversity of perspectives