October 3, 2022

How To Have A Conversation About Racism | Robert Livingston

Racism is solvable, but that doesn’t mean we will solve it. To close the gap between the probable and possible, we need to have meaningful conversations.

“Conversation is one of the most powerful ways to build knowledge, awareness, and empathy and ultimately, impact change.”

In his award winning book, “The Conversation: How Seeking and Speaking the Truth About Racism Can Radically Transform Individuals and Organizations”, Dr Robert Livingston PhD provides a compass and a roadmap for individuals and for organizational leaders to solve racism. As a leading Harvard social psychologist, he expertly combines his research and narrative for an audience who is eager to be part of the solution.

Robert talks with us about the lightbulb moment he realized storytelling was a powerful way to engage an audience. By building relationships and using narratives, you can change people’s behavior in a way that facts and graphs simply don’t.

Our conversation with Robert gives us the tools to firstly define racism and recognize its existence. We learn why motivated reasoning tries to protect us from the threat of addressing our own racism. But if we approach the painful conversations with a growth mindset, we can allow ourselves the grace to learn.


© 2022 Behavioral Grooves



(3:13) Welcome and speed round questions.

(4:23) Is racism a solvable problem?

(6:19) Why conversation is so crucial to overcoming racism.

(13:18) How The Press Model can help solve racism.

(19:47) Why are people in denial about racism?

(25:12) How to challenge the “I’m not a racist” relative?

(28:48) How to have a conversation about racism, rather than a debate. 

(36:20) Why do we confuse equity and equality?

(45:03) People are not as concerned about fairness as they are about winning.

(47:52) What music would Robert take to a desert island?



Robert Livingston's book “The Conversation: How Seeking and Speaking the Truth About Racism Can Radically Transform Individuals and Organizations”: https://amzn.to/3DdQZOc

Episode 232, Katy Milkman: How to Make Healthy Habits that Actually Last: https://behavioralgrooves.com/episode/katy-milkman-habits-that-last/ 

“Whites See Racism as a Zero-Sum Game That They Are Now Losing” Michael Norton and Samuel Sommers (2011): https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1745691611406922 

Carol Dweck “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”: https://amzn.to/3SBhamm 

Amy Edmondson: https://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Pages/profile.aspx?facId=6451 

Episode 178, Kwame Christian: On Compassionate Curiosity, Social Justice Conversations, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch: https://behavioralgrooves.com/episode/kwame-christian-on-compassionate-curiosity-social-justice-conversations-and-cinnamon-toast-crunch/ 

Episode 230, How Good People Fight Bias with Dolly Chugh: https://behavioralgrooves.com/episode/how-good-people-fight-bias/ 


Musical Links

Stevie Wonder “Songs In The Key of Life”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oiG9eiwUpHo 

Miles Davis “So What”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqNTltOGh5c

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