Ep 28: Difficult Conversations in Uncertain Times (with Parisa Parsa)

by Joan Garry

Nonprofits are needed now more than ever. Strong leadership is needed more than ever. And we have to start doing a better job of listening to each other…


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This week marks a major transition in the U.S. – a new president.

Whenever this happens, some people are thrilled and others are upset, anxious, worried. This is true even when a president is re-elected.

This year does feel different in some ways. Emotions are running higher than normal. So is skepticism. The country has become more polarized than it has been in a long time.

All too often, we’ve stopped listening to each other.

For my nonprofit clients who are feeling distressed, I remind you that the nonprofit world was created to help fill in the gaps where the government cannot – and perhaps should not – be involved. Whether those gaps will get bigger with the new administration, only time will tell.

But this does mean is that nonprofits are needed now more than ever. That strong leadership is needed more than ever. And that we have to start doing a better job of listening to each other.

It is with all of that in mind that I was anxious to have Parisa Parsa on the podcast. Paris is an expert in bringing people together and in this episode, Parisa will help us sort out how to have difficult conversations and find the opportunities in this challenging environment.

About Parisa Parsa

Parisa is the Executive Director of an organization called Essential Partners, a nonprofit that has worked for more than 25 years to facilitate difficult conversations. Parisa brings to us years of leadership experience, focused on training and cultivating others as leaders to build strong, healthy organizations.

Prior to joining Essential Partners, Parisa served as the Director of Congregational Development for the New England Unitarian Universalist Association, strengthening leaders and congregations through leadership development, and change management. An ordained minister, she has served in leadership roles for faith-based and social service organizations across the country.

She has fascinating insights into what is going on in our country and in nonprofits today.

In this episode:

  • Ways to stay grounded in times of chaos
  • Lessons from the Karate Kid
  • The keys to making a difficult conversation productive
  • How to use the Reflective Structure Dialogue (RSD) method to help facilitate better conversations
  • Advice for leaders moving into uncharted waters

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