Brave conversations


Andrea Flack-Wetherald

Andrea Flack-Wetherald '10 discussed ways to build trust and maintain strong relationships.

Hard conversations lead to wellness

2010 graduate Andrea Flack-Wetherald brought her combined skills in social work and improvisation to Bluffton University’s weekly Forum on Nov. 28. The social worker, author and comedian shared tips for holding brave conversations and explained how those difficult conversations can ultimately lead to wellness.

“We’re hardwired for human connection and the only way we’re actually going to feel that connection is by having brave conversations with the people we care about,” said Flack-Wetherald. “If we ultimately want to make a difference while we’re on this space rock, which I think most of us do, then we will only create real impact by collaborating well with the people around us.”

In essence, having brave conversations leads to building trust and maintaining stronger relationships. Examples of brave conversations Flack-Wetherald shared include giving and receiving difficult feedback, setting boundaries, advocating for yourself and collaborating in a creative environment. 

She also named a few truths she’s come to understand about initiating these conversations:

  • The stakes are usually not as high as we think and are usually higher when we avoid than when we engage. 
  • You cannot experience true belonging without the ability to be who you are so avoiding saying a brave thing for the sake of belonging cannot create true belonging. It can only create isolation and resentment.
  • Brave conversations cost temporary comfort and create lasting strength. 

While she travels the country to teach these skills, Flack-Wetherald explained that starting a brave conversation is still difficult for her. However, she has them because “avoiding these moments is the opposite of emotional wellness.” 

So, how does Flack-Wetherald start a brave conversation? Instead of planning out the whole conversation, she plans just the first sentence and lets it naturally unfold from there.

“Life is improv so the more you take in the moment by listening, the better you’ll be.”

Flack-Wetherald previously shared her mindfulness and improv skills during fall 2022’s Spiritual Life Week. During this visit to Bluffton, she also stopped by a social work class and practiced improv games with students at The Lion and Lamb Peace Arts Center. 

The Forum was part of a series connected to Bluffton’s yearlong Civic Engagement theme: Exploring the Continuum of Emotional Wellness