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How to approach a conversation about the vaccine with an unvaccinated loved one

NEWS CENTER Maine's sister station, WFMY, in North Carolina, takes a look into how to speak to family members about getting vaccinated.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — No doubt the vaccine has been a polarizing topic for many. Leaders continue to stress the science and the data as they urge people to take it. 

On Wednesday, Gov. Roy Cooper encouraged everyday people to talk with unvaccinated friends and family about why they need a shot. 

It's not the first time, and it probably won't be the last, that Cooper appealed to vaccinated people in this way. For many, that's a really tough topic to bring up in an effective way.

WFMY News 2 spoke with Dr. Nannette Funderburk, a Greensboro psychotherapist, to discuss just how you'd approach that kind of conversation. 

"If you choose to go into this conversation, check how you're entering that conversation. Check your expectations, and check your judgement, the way your judgement is expressed," she said, "If you have the expectation that you're going in to convince them, to change their mind, then that's a setup for a fight and for you all probably to not be friends."

Funderburk said the first thing you should do is ask: Is your friend or loved one even open to having a discussion? 

"If they say yes, that first communicates a sign of respect from you to them," she said, "Then you go in with your ears open, listening to their opinion. What's going on in their minds, what are the things they're thinking about, what are the things they're fearful of, what are the things they've heard?"

Funderburk said tone of voice and facial expressions are key.

"Those things all communicate to them. Are you listening to me, with a tone of 'I'm open,' 'I really do want to hear what you have to say,' 'I don't want to force you into anything,' or are you here just trying to force me into something?"

Her final piece of advice is to ask open-ended questions that lead to a discussion and allow someone to explain themselves.