In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends

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Conversations with Integrity

BEST Spring Symposium

March 9, 2016

In the end,

we will remember not the words of our enemies,

but the silence of our friends.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Margaret Nugent

Kjell Stroomer-Rowe


Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center

Parker J. Palmer, Center for Courage and Renewal

“Voice Lessons,” by Jennifer Abrams

SCARF model, developed by David Rock

Six Steps to Speak Up

Whatever situation you're in, remember these six steps to help you speak up against everyday bigotry. In any situation, however, assess your safety, both physical and emotional. There is a risk, and that must be acknowledged as you make your own choice to Speak Up!

Be Ready. You know another moment like this will happen, so prepare yourself for it. Think of yourself as the one who will speak up. Promise yourself not to remain silent.

"Summon your courage, whatever it takes to get that courage, wherever that source of courage is for you," said Dr. Marsha Houston, chair of the Communication Studies Department at the University of Alabama.

To bolster that courage, have something to say in mind before an incident happens. Open-ended questions often are a good response. "Why do you say that?" "How did you develop that belief?" [NOTE: WHY questions can trigger defensiveness. Instead try What makes you say that? or What’s behind that statement for you?]

Identify the Behavior. Sometimes, pointing out the behavior candidly helps someone hear what they're really saying: "Janice, what I hear you saying is that all Mexicans are lazy" (or whatever the slur happens to be). Or, "Janice, you're classifying an entire ethnicity in a derogatory way. Is that what I hear you saying?"

When identifying behavior, however, avoid labeling, name-calling or the use of loaded terms. Describe the behavior; don't label the person.

"If your goal is to communicate, loaded terms get you nowhere," said Dr. K.E. Supriya, associate professor of communications at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and an expert in the role of gender and cultural identity in communication. "If you simply call someone a racist, a wall goes up."

Appeal to Principles. If the speaker is someone you have a relationship with — a sister, friend or co-worker, for example — call on their higher principles: "Bob, I've always thought of you as a fair-minded person, so it shocks me when I hear you say something that sounds so bigoted."

"Appeal to their better instincts," Houston said. "Remember that people are complex. What they say in one moment is not necessarily an indication of everything they think."

Set Limits. You cannot control another person, but you can say, "Don't tell racist jokes in my presence anymore. If you do, I will leave." Or, "My workspace is not a place I allow bigoted remarks to be made. I can't control what you say outside of this space, but here I ask that you respect my wishes." Then follow through.

"The point is to draw a line, to say, 'I don't want you to use that language when I'm around,'" Bob Carolla, spokesman for the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. "Even if attitudes don't change, by shutting off bad behavior, you are limiting its contagion. Fewer people hear it or experience it."

Find an Ally/Be an Ally. When frustrated in your own campaign against everyday bigotry, seek out like-minded people and ask them to support you in whatever ways they can.

And don't forget to return the favor: If you aren't the first voice to speak up against everyday bigotry, be the next voice.

"Always speak up, and never be silenced out of fear," said Shane Windmeyer, founder and coordinator of Campus PrideNet and the Lambda 10 Project. "To be an ally, we must lead by example and inspire others to do the same."

Be Vigilant. Remember: Change happens slowly. People make small steps, typically, not large ones. Stay prepared, and keep speaking up. Don't risk silence.

"There's a sense of personal disappointment in having not said something when you felt you should have," said Ron Schlittler, acting executive director of the national office of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.

Carolla put it this way: "If you don't speak up, you're surrendering part of yourself. You're letting bigotry win."

Managing people - the SCARF model

(summary by Trevor Eddolls)

. . . One way of thinking about social interactions is to use the SCARF model, which can help to make those interactions more successful. Unlike many other motivational theories, the SCARF model is quite modern – it was first published in 2008 by David Rock. SCARF is an acronym, where the letters are taken from the first letters of the words:


  • Status, which is about relative importance to others.

  • Certainty, which concerns being able to predict the future.

  • Autonomy, which provides people a sense of control over events.

  • Relatedness, which is a sense of safety with others.

  • Fairness, which is a perception of fair exchanges between people.

Behind all this, is the idea that our brain will make us behave in ways that try to minimize perceived threats and maximize rewards; and that the brain reacts in the same way to social needs as to our primary needs like food and water. So, if a stimulus is associated with positive emotions or rewards, you will probably approach it. But if it is associated with negative emotions or punishments, you will perceive it as a threat and you will probably avoid it. That all sounds pretty straightforward.

Therefore, you can use the SCARF model to plan interactions with other people in such a way that you minimize threats and maximize rewards in each of the five areas (or domains, as they’re called). And, even better, you can use the technique to go on and activate the other person’s reward response, and so motivate that person more effectively by using their internal reward system.

If a person feels that they are being threatened, their primitive emotional brain – particularly the amygdala – will work quickly to protect them, and this reduces their ability for rational thought, to make decisions, to solve problems, and to collaborate . . .

What makes the SCARF model so useful, is that it identifies the five domains that activate the primary reward or primary threat circuitry in a person’s brain.

According to David Rock: “Data gathered through measures of brain activity, using fMRI and electroencephalograph (EEG) machines or gauging hormonal secretions, suggests that the same neural responses that drive us toward food or away from predators are triggered by our perceptions of the way we are treated by other people.”

Apparently, being ostracized activates similar neural responses to being hungry; threats to our social status elevate cortisol levels in the same way as happens with chronic anxiety and sleep deprivation; and unpredictability uses the same areas in the brain as physical pain. 

So, if [people] feel that they are going to receive a reward, they will bring more cognitive resources, more insights, more ideas for action, fewer perceptual errors, and have a wider field of view. Whereas, if they feel threatened, they’ll experience reduced working memory, a reduced field of view, a generalized threat feeling, and err on the side of pessimism. So which would you prefer? How would you like them to feel?

In his article Successful educators, trainers and facilitators intuitively use the SCARF model, David Rock suggests SCARF “is not new. People have been using it for ages – the very people we identify as showing emotional intelligence.”

Let’s take a closer look at these five domains:


  1. Status – this is our sense of worth, it’s where we fit into the hierarchy at work both socially and organizationally. Status is a significant driver of workplace behavior. If [someone] has had his status threatened, it may help you to understand his behavior, when you find that he’s taking it out on you, if you know about this model.

  2. Certainty – clarity and certainty are important. A person’s brain uses fewer resources in familiar situations than unfamiliar ones. And working with a lack of clarity can increase a person’s stress levels and impair their ability to make effective balanced decisions.

  3. Autonomy – gives a person a sense of control over what they do. A person’s brain will process the lack of autonomy as a threat situation (and this will lead to more stress), whereas being promised more autonomy actually activates the reward system in the brain.

  4. Relatedness – we’re social animals, and we naturally form social groups and build relationships. These groups build mutual trust and form a barrier against the unknown. This leads to the production of oxytocin, which increases the positive feeling of trust and stabilizes these relationships. It helps build the team.

  5. Fairness – if a person thinks something is unfair, their brain automatically goes into defense mode. A strong response from a person that removes the unfairness can activate the reward center of the brain.

That leads to the idea of taking stock of the five domains before interacting with [others]. . . It also provides a framework for understanding your own responses . . .

*SCARF - Your Brain At Work (This is David Rock’s article.)

Educators and Students Speak

Quotation 1: “It’s important that we make room for this—for learning how to get along with one another—in our core curriculum … ‘People skills’—being conscious of our cultural differences—is what makes businesses succeed and economies run. If we don’t do this, it’s a disservice to our students, to our country and to our world.” –Amber Makaiau, ethnic studies teacher, Oahu, Hawaii

Quotation 2: “Stop what you’re doing—whatever you’re doing—and address it,” says Soñia Galaviz, a fifth-grade teacher in Nampa, Idaho. So if Galaviz is teaching a math lesson and she hears a student make a biased remark, what does she do? “I say to myself, ‘Hold on, let’s stop.’ The parallelogram lesson can wait. And I go back to all the work we did the first two months of school, discussing classroom culture and sharing our own cultural stories. I address it in the moment. I never let it pass. Anytime you let it pass, it’s an opportunity missed.”
Quotation 3: “I often just did not pay attention to hurtful comments or bigoted behaviors. [Then] I began to make a personal connection to my own life and how bullying had impacted me as a youth. Bullying and bigoted behaviors have so many layers and are presented in so many ways. This is when I realized that I was contributing to the problem by not speaking up and speaking out.”

Quotation 4: Looking back, the student says he would have changed his approach: “I would have confronted it much earlier, when I first realized that I had a problem with the way I was being treated. I should have pulled my friends aside or talked to them individually, explaining my issues with the situation—not with anger or revenge, but with calmness.”

Quotation 5: I think it is important that my colleagues and I create a school environment where it is OK for our students to tell their stories, what makes them unique. As part of our capstone Project 8 course, which focuses on self-reflection and identity, our eighth-graders have been sharing aloud their “This I Believe” essays with their classmates and families. In these essays, students connect their own core values to their personal narratives. From perseverance in sports to coming to terms with adoption and navigating the loss of family and loved ones, these stories have opened new connections between students. –Sumant Bhat, middle school head, Denver, CO


  1. When you think of living with integrity, what does that mean to you? What can be difficult about wanting to be true to your own values while maintaining relationships with people whose views differ from yours?

  1. Parker J. Palmer’s CHUTZPAH: Assess the strength of your voice. What are some situations in which you feel comfortable speaking up? Situations that challenge your ability to speak up?

  1. Parker J. Palmer’s HUMILITY: What are you noticing about your ability to listen with full attention, to feel and convey authentic interest and caring—especially when the speaker’s views differ from your own?

  1. What insights into yourself and others do you find in the SCARF model? What’s an example of a change you might try based on this brain research?

  1. What strikes you from the Six Steps text? What applications to your work do you see, and what is something you commit to doing?

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