trainings TRAINING MODULES: Finding Commonalities and Solutions With Decision-Makers

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April 5th, 2023
2:00 pm ET
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We are excited to share with you a new resource: a guide and training to support advocates working on policies that help children and families thrive. This work came out of a request from advocates in our network for help customizing messages and policy asks—especially when working with decision-makers in conservative states. We’ll share our research, messages, and audience strategy. We’re offering something else, too, that we’re hearing is pretty unique and urgently needed: support for advocates to find common ground with decision-makers who hold differing views, and to engage in these conversations in a nonpolarizing and psychologically safe way. In addition to the general learnings, we offer specific messages around prenatal to three issue areas, as well as advocating for local decision-making.  Our work is only beginning. As capacity and funding allow, we will add to the library of offerings. Projects are chosen based on real-world requests of advocates.

Please find a set of modules below that should be completed before any live-based training.  We look forward to feedback from advocates using the guide and please reach out with any questions or needs.


Module 1: Introduction to the Guide and overview of the training modules (7min)

Finding common ground and win-win solutions in policy negotiation is an art that blends close listening, two-way conversations and meaningful relationships of trust built over time. Voices for Healthy Kids offers this resource as part of the services we provide to empower advocates and drive for meaningful policy change in every state. We hope it helps open the space to advance policies that benefit all families, babies and young children. 

Module 1 video

Module 2: Archetype overview (10 min)

As you move through conversations and policy negotiations you can more deeply understand decision-makers’ needs and values to advance productive conversations about PN-3 issues — while creating an atmosphere of safety that honors all participants' values, feelings and needs. Values are key here; they are closely connected to individuals’ personal identity and greatly influence the way people evaluate information and make decisions. It’s rarely possible to change someone’s values, but identifying a decision-maker's values can help you connect the dots between an issue and collaborative strategies to propose. To support you, this guide identifies four conservative decision-making styles. We call these archetypes, typical examples of a person or group. Our commitment is to do this work without stereotypes or judgment; instead, we use a nonpolarizing communication style to more deeply understand the feelings, needs and core values within each archetype to help you find shared understanding and advance productive debate. Knowing that no one person will fit neatly into a box, we also offer insights on how the "dials" of age and geography can fine-tune an archetype.

"Conservatives" are a broad audience encompassing many different perspectives and decision-styles. To create a more detailed understanding, we researched four archetypes, which are typical examples of a person or group. These are intended, without stereotypes or judgment, to provide clues about feelings, needs and core values that can advance shared understanding and productive debate.

Module 2 video

Module 3: Church and country (5 min)

Decision-makers who are guided by faith, and who feel loyalty and respect for chosen leaders, represent the conservative Church and Country archetype.

Module 3 video

Module 4: Economic influenced (5 min)

Highly educated, financially secure decision-makers who prioritize the economy and business strength, and favor limited government, represent the Economic Influenced archetype.

Module 4 video

Module 5: Legacy Republican (5 min)

Decision-makers driven by traditional values — hard work, a two-parent household and the American Dream — represent the Legacy Republican archetype.

Module 5 video

Module 6: Populist aligned (5 min)

Decision-makers who value individuals making efforts to advance themselves without outside help or government spending, and are led by constitutional ideals, represent the Populist-Aligned archetype.

Module 6 video

Module 7: Hidden feelings (30 min) and add-on The role of trauma (7 min)

Much of our nonpolarizing language strategy is grounded in the principles of a field called nonviolent communication, which focuses on underlying needs and feelings to get to the heart of the issue and build mutual understanding from the ground up. As you deepen your understanding of the archetypes and the specific people you’re meeting with, you will also benefit from deeper insights about the other person in the conversation: you. Getting clear about your stances, values, needs and feelings can help you feel grounded and ready for a two-way dialogue. Think of it as creating your own archetype!  This practice is important and requires appropriate mentorship. We are offering resources for advocates to begin their learning and practice, and strongly suggest supplemental coaching and/or peer support.

Module 7 video

Module 7 add on video

Module 8: PN-3 messages for the archetypes (10 min)

The core message frame is grounded in values and built from elements of existing tested messaging, adapted based on the decision-maker interviews and other insights from this research. You can augment this with policy- or issue-specific messages, tailored to align with the archetype characteristics.

Module 8 video

Module 9: Local Decision-Making messages for the archetypes (10 min)

The core message frame for talking about the benefits of local decision making is similarly grounded in values and informed by decision-maker interviews and other insights from this research. You can augment this with policy- or issue-specific messages, tailored to align with the archetype characteristics.

Module 9 video

Putting it all together!

Above all, this is a guide to productive conversation, not merely a message guide. Conversation—including listening and seeking to find shared values—is essential in creating connections across lived experiences and perspectives. Your instinct may be to say “I know we disagree, but…” and then launch into your case for policy change. But decision-makers suggest you look first for opportunities to collaborate rather than starting with why you disagree. These conversations aren’t always easy; please refer to Understanding Yourself for tips on preparing yourself for a conversation where both parties’ needs and feelings are honored.

You are now ready to attend our training that helps you put it all together! Please check our upcoming and recorded trainings to register or view!


These trainings will be presented by Allyson Frazier and Joshua Harris of Voices for Healthy Kids and the project team from Metropolitan Group, a social impact firm focused on public health and social justice. The MG team—Deb Clark, Jennifer Messenger and Surili Sutaria Patel—conducted the research for this project, and work with other nonprofit organizations, public agencies and foundations to understand how to talk about, advocate for and advance racial and health equity, especially across geographic and ideological divides.

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