How to have a conversation about the weird weather.
The single most important action you can take to focus people’s power on climate is to start conversations about why climate matters to you, your friends, family, and the world you interact with every day.
You don’t need to be an expert. You don’t need to change anyone’s mind immediately.
You just need to start conversations, meeting people where they are at. No shame, no blame.
Don’t worry about reaching a particular destination. It’s a journey that involves “think time” post conversation, revisiting the talks, and evolving.
Remember: Start, stay, and end positive!
A few guidelines for good conversations.
When you like someone, show it.
When someone knows you like them, they’re much more likely to be open to your ideas. Find common ground with people. Be warm. Give them genuine praise for something.
Warning: Fake it and people will know, which can backfire.
Be generous of spirit.
Let them talk first by beginning with questions. Listen carefully. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Look past small mistakes. Deeply, thoughtfully, and consistently think through their perspective. Show respect.
Experts who people like and respect can be powerful.
Does your conversation partner have a leader they respect? Do you know what that person thinks about the climate? Concern about the climate crosses nearly all the typical political and religious boundaries.
Tell your story.
Know what’s more powerful than facts? Stories.
What happened in that moment when you first became aware of the climate challenge? When did you first start feeling nervous, and why? What else did you feel?
Don’t say it—do it.
When others see you act on your beliefs (by seeing you volunteer or change your lifestyle in some way, for example), it’s powerful. What you do is more effective than what you say.
Repetition from more than one person is important.
It often takes more than one person talking about an issue to change a mindset. That’s why a concerted, organized effort like ULLU is so important. And it’s another reason why you should keep conversations brief and positive. If you start to feel revved up, it’s time to stop.
Kicking off the convo.
Want to share your actions—and influence by example?
Here are a few things you may already be doing:
- Using a smart thermostat
- Installing LED bulbs
- Giving an electric lawn-mower a try—they cost $399
- Considering an electric snow-blower—they exist!
- Requesting a home energy audit
- Maintaining your tire pressure
- Giving thought to a hybrid or electric vehicle
- Turning off the lights
- Avoiding rush hour traffic
- Reducing food waste—it contributes to climate change
- Shopping at a local farmer’s market
- Buying local
- Using solar gain in the winter and opening your blinds
- Putting a dry towel in the dryer with your wet clothes
- Using a dimmer switch
- Using a slow cooker—it’s 75% more efficient
- Putting reusable grocery bags to work
- Installing solar panels—they come with tax breaks
- Eating your veggies!
Looking for a few conversation starters?
Here you go:
- What’s up with the weird weather?
- Did you know that 80% of people believe the climate is a real threat?
- Have your kids talked to you about the climate?
- Do you know if your town is involved in a sustainability program?
- What frustrates you about the climate conversation?
- What resonates most with you about the climate stuff going on?
Download this guide.
Want to refer back to these handy tips later? Here you go.
After the fact.
Share your experience with other friends who joined you in having this kind of conversation so you can compare notes and look for ways to continue building your confidence and skills.
We want to know how your conversations are going. What worked? What were some roadblocks? Let us know how you are doing at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can continue improving our toolkit for others to have these crucial conversations, too.
Keep current. Create change.
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- Climate solutions news
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- Inspiring climate action stories from people just like you
When you support ULLU, you reach people just like you—people who want to learn and act.
Help empower them.