Tell Stories, not Statistics

Keep it to basics with concrete examples. Statistics are good, but examples that resonate with the person are even better. This is actually often a feelings conversation, not a facts conversation. The truth is that when faced with statistics that don’t jibe with our understanding of the world, we more often dismiss them than change our mind. Stories are powerful because they provide concrete human touchstones that resonate with us - there’s a reason ads like to tell stories about people instead of just listing the benefits of products.

In the same vein - avoid jargony terms that the person isn’t familiar with. You might want to start talking about intersectional feminism and institutionalized racism and inherent bias, but throwing terms around that your friend might not understand will only cause them to go on the defensive. Those terms, while useful and precise, also have the negative effect of abstracting the real problems they describe. Keep it concrete.

So what kinds of stories should you tell? Focus on specific descriptions and real-life examples. If you have examples from your own life or from people you actually know, that’s the best. If not, using examples from the articles in the Articles & Resources tab is a good place to start. In either case, it’s helpful to figure out which stories you might want to talk about in advance. Spend time thinking about women in your life who have mentioned times they’ve experienced sexism, for example. You might not remember a good anecdote in the moment, but if you’ve thought about it already, you’ll be prepared.

Jennifer Hare