Module 5: Respectful Dialogue & Structure of a Conversation

5.6 Talk Back

We wish we could talk with you individually to hear your thoughts, concerns, reservations, or anticipated challenges in using the Conversations Approach.  We have provided some common questions and concerns that have been shared about using the Conversations Approach and responses that may be useful to you. 

1. I understand that bias is a problem, but aren’t some stereotypes common because they are true? 

Your experiences and those of others may have led you to expect certain responses from families and individuals from specific groups. In addition, every day we are exposed to news and others’ opinions that worm their way into our unconscious views of people from various groups. This is especially true if those people are not “like us.” The problem with not acknowledging your assumptions based on stereotypes is twofold. First, not every person or family from any group is like all the others. If you assume they are, you have short-circuited the purpose of the Conversations Approach—to individualize it to each person or family. Second, if you have not used an individualized approach with people from a given group in the past, you now have an opportunity to learn about their concerns and resistance and do a better job of giving them information about sleeping and feeding their babies. So use what you have learned in the past, but question the assumptions it might make you have.

2. Wow, there are a lot of parts to this conversation. Who has that much time?

Remember that you may be one of several people talking with families. This approach depends on a broad system of users comprised of people and programs that touch families.  Look at the matrix of the parts and think about which ones fit your role with the family. It’s essential that we all work to make sure that before the baby is born, at the birth, and afterwards, the conversation is started, a plan is made, and the conversation continues to tweak the plan and make sure it is working for the family.

3. I already use the skills described in this Module. What is so new about the Conversations Approach? 

What is new is applying these skills to promoting breastfeeding and safe sleep in an integrated way. In addition, much of health promotion has focused on the population level to raise awareness of the changes in behavior needed, but it has not provided the individualized approach that supports actual behavior change. So, if you already are skilled in the areas presented in this module, you will be primed to easily use the Conversations Approach. You can also be a resource to others who may just be starting to use these skills.