Priorities, Differences, and Common Ground

Date: February 17th, 2017

Judith HerrmanGuest Blog Post By Judith W. Herrman, PhD, RN, ANEF, FAAN

As we launch into a 2017 that is very different from years past and, perhaps, from what we expected, several things have become very clear to me!

  1. The wide spectrum of opinions about almost every issue
  2. Our tendency to gravitate to others with “like-minded” thinking
  3. The need to find common ground and keep our eyes trained on the reason we do what we do in advocating for adolescent health and teens who are pregnant or parenting.

At the November 2016 Healthy Teen Network conference, we held a concurrent session on teaching, listening to, and learning from youth. We demonstrated a strategy called the nominal group technique. We posed a question to participants:

What three things would you do to ensure bipartisan cooperation in the US after this election?   

In line with this decision-making, priority-setting strategy, we asked participants to select the one thing, of the three on their list, they thought was the most important. These were listed on a flip chart. Once everyone in the room had the opportunity to share their most critical fact, each participant was given yard-sale money stickers in $1, $5, and $10 denominations. The group was asked to place the “highest price” on the most significant concept or strategy and follow with the $5 and $1 stickers. This process created a list of highest priorities held by the group. Although time constraints precluded the entire group from “voting” using all their stickers, some very interesting priorities, ideas, and themes emerged. We thought it would be interesting to share these with the Healthy Teen Network community as we all find our advocacy footing in the new world.

In order of frequency, these are the answers/strategies posed by the group:

  • Create a safe atmosphere for the expression of ideas and ideals.
  • Appoint a reasonable and moderate Cabinet with skilled and knowledgeable individuals for each role of the Cabinet.
  • Re-look at the Constitution, most notably, the electoral college—it is an idea past its time?
  • Designate a moderate Supreme Court justice candidate who will uphold past decisions and priorities.
  • Learn to listen to each other—determine motivations, fears, knowledge gaps, and rationale behind stances—attempt to build bridges between opposing ideals.
  • Ensure that fair voting and election practices are upheld.
  • Take time to talk to constituents—allow time for the provision of all sides of issues and careful deliberation of potential solutions.
  • Practice emotional regulation—ensure that deliberate and conscious decision-making precludes anger and fear.
  • Find common ground—determine agreed-upon issues and capitalize on these issues as common threads and objects of agreement.
  • Reach out to local, state, and federal political representatives—ensure that they know your opinions and potential solutions.
  • Hold individuals accountable for their actions.
  • Use clear communication on goals and objectives.
  • Re-visit the practice of filibustering.

Although some of these decisions have been made and others are more global tenets, rather than specific solutions, they provide insights into the group attending the conference days after the election.  These concepts and strategies offer a glimpse into a group’s thoughts and may inspire you into action or expression.

Consider your personal role as an advocate for adolescents and pregnant and parenting teens…what can you do? Perhaps this list provides some answers or stimulates your own thoughts as we progress in 2017.

Judy is a nurse, educator, and researcher who serves on the Healthy Teen Network Board of Directors. She is a national and international speaker and, as a Professor at the University of Delaware, is actively involved in research related to adolescent decision-making and sexuality, interpersonal violence prevention, and teaching strategies focusing on age-related learning. She has publications in many and varied journals disseminating results to varied audiences.

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