Crossing the COVID Vax Divide – Step 3: Address barriers, using your own personal story.

Step 3
Step 3

Destiny Aman, Founder, JPoint Collaborative

In the last blog post, we learned how values can be used to:

  1. understand that we have more in common with folks than we might think, and 
  2. stake out some relational space that can help you address barriers and better connect with someone. 

It’s worth mentioning that these interactions are highly personal (indeed they must be to be effective), so you’ll want to use your own language, but I’ve offered some examples of things to say that have been helpful in my interactions with people. Feel free to use or modify as you’d like.

General tips:

  • Don’t try to speak like an expert (even/especially if you are an expert!). Your own words and experience will be much more effective. In the examples below, I use my own words (content warning: I curse pretty regularly, especially when I’m feeling passionate about something, so you’ll see that reflected below 😂).
  • Be sure to validate the person’s concerns. Don’t skip this step. Even if you don’t agree, find a way to at least empathize with how they feel
  • Share your own thoughts from a place of shared common ground. 
  • If someone is coming from a particular value place, try to align your response with that value. Don‘t flex a response that relies on respect for authority (like “I trust the medical establishment”) if the person is signaling anti-authority views. 

Remember, the point here isn’t to change this person’s mind, it’s to connect with them about the issue as a peer and establish yourself as someone who cares about them and respects where they’re coming from. 

“It doesn’t seem like anyone really knows what’s going on” / “We’re just part of a big experiment”

  • Values signaled: Anti-authority, purity 
  • Example validation: 100%! Being part of a historical event is getting way old! Things are changing all the time. Just when you think you have a handle on your new routine, it’s thrown out of whack again. 
  • Example personal story: For me, I feel like it’s this whole delta variant thing, you know? Waiting may have made sense with the original COVID strain. But the delta variant is as contagious as the measles. That’s some historical shit. It’s one of the most contagious diseases in history. For me, it made sense to reconsider things once I understood that part. 

“You’re tellin’ me now we have boosters too? The medical industry must be making a fortune off of all this.”

  • Value signaled: anti-authority 
  • Example validation: I can appreciate that. I don’t particularly love that capitalism and our health system are so intertwined either.
  • Example personal story: For me it helps when I see that so many people have gotten the vaccine and there have been so few side effects documented. The hospitals are filled with unvaccinated people, not people having side effects. Also, I know a bunch of folks who have have been involved with the process and they have helped me understand why things are working the way they do. Apparently we’re gonna need the boosters until we get the thing under control globally – which may take a while.

“I just want to do my own research.”

  • Value signaled: anti-authority 
  • Example validation: I agree that it’s really important that parents come to a thoughtful decision on this.”
  • Example personal story: I just know there’s a lot of crap out there online and it might take a long time to go through it all. I’d hate to see my kid get sick while I’m trying to watch 80 hours of YouTube videos, you know? Plus half that stuff is straight up weirdness. Have you seen some of it? There’s just a lot of weird stuff out there. 

“I think these mandates are coercive.” 

  • Value signaled: liberty 
  • Example validation: Yeah the whole situation is kind of scary. I’d much rather people be able to choose to get the vaccine.
  • Example personal story: I’m just looking at the global situation, you know? Like all these developing countries – even if they have the doses, they don’t have the logistics to get everyone vaccinated. It’s going to take a long time to get it all sorted out, and until that happens, we’re gonna keep seeing people get infected here, too. The whole situation is really crappy.

“I just don’t feel comfortable giving something so new to my kid.”

  • Value signaled: purity 
  • Example validation: Totally. It’s a seriously shitty time to be a parent. There are just so many hard choices. Even not choosing is a choice!
  • Example story: My thing is that I’m looking at these long term effects of getting COVID too. Even if the kids have an easier time with the virus than adults do, shit happens. You hear about kids getting these really high fevers and stuff and with them being back in school and everything, it’s already a germy enough place. I really do think everyone’s probably gonna get this thing and I want to make sure their systems are beefed up for it too.

“I’m afraid of needles. They just freak me out.”

  • Value signaled: purity
  • Example validation: Ugh. I was actually kind of nervous about that too.
  • Example story: But I was surprised how tiny the needle was. Also my friend got COVID and had to go to the hospital, and she said they had to poke her several times a day. So I figured, better to get two little pokes than multiple blood draws. The guy at Walgreens was super quick about it. And if you tell them that you’re nervous about needles, they’ll make it extra easy. Or you can get J&J and then it’s just one and done. I’d be happy to help you make a plan or find a place doing J&J, if you’d like.

In our next and last post for this series, we’ll be talking through how to gracefully wrap up this conversation, and how to think through the boundaries that you can set if the person chooses to remain unvaccinated. 

Step 4

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