Political opinions. Alcohol and drug use. Company culture. Mental health.

Discussions surrounding sensitive topics like these are vital to not only the college student experience, but also very much applicable to ensuring employee success. However, when these subjects come up, the silence is often deafening. No one wants to feel judged or embarrassed, and many fear being alone in their views or experiences.

To create a supportive community, instructors need to provide a safe environment where everyone can be heard. This is where TurningPoint’s anonymous polling feature – which instantly displays answers to interactive questions in aggregate without any connection to the individual – can play a role in driving these difficult dialogues.

How to address sensitive issues in the classroom and the office

  • Promote open discussions
  • Give everyone a voice
  • Eliminate judgement
  • Reinforce honesty

Promote open discussions

It might seem like a misnomer since anonymity is inherently non-transparent, but carefully crafted questions and the open sharing of aggregate responses allow your audience to know exactly how everyone feels. As a result, a full range of opinions will be clear for all to see, including those that are more taboo or less likely to be discussed in other settings.

Give everyone a voice

One of the pitfalls of discussions in a meeting or lecture hall is that the conversation tends to be dominated by the most outspoken individuals, and they may not represent the full scope of the population/group. With anonymous polling, even those who typically don’t voice their thoughts can contribute their views without fearing repercussions from peers. Even with a large audience, everyone gets a voice.

Eliminate judgment

For every type of sensitive topic, participants can initially feel reluctant to respond for fear of judgment. They might also accidentally judge others without meaning to. Including anonymous questions can eliminate judgment because nobody will know who responded which way.

Reinforce honesty

Discussing sensitive issues in the classroom and at the office helps to ensure students and employees are in good health and succeeding. Anonymous polling allows participants to be completely honest no matter the question, even if it involves personal information that they might not come forward with otherwise. This openness can dispel common misconceptions and opens the door to more in-depth conversations.

By fostering open communication, allowing everyone to contribute and providing a community environment, anonymous polling is an incredibly valuable tool to help instructors create discussions around even the most sensitive topics.