Feature Story, Faculty

February 9, 2023 | By Cole Hatcher

‘Understand and Learn’

Ohio Wesleyan Professor Shares Insights on Popular ‘Negotiate Anything’ Podcast

Ashley Kennard

Ohio Wesleyan University’s Ashley Kennard says one of the best pieces of advice she can give people preparing for difficult conversations is, “You’re going to make mistakes, and it’s going to be OK.”

Kennard, Ph.D., an assistant professor of Communication, shared her insights recently on Kwame Christian’s popular podcast, “Negotiate Anything.” Since its debut, the podcast has been downloaded more than 6 million times and heard by listeners in over 180 countries.

Kennard appeared on the Jan. 16 episode, “How to Understand the High-Conflict Person with Dr. Ashley R. Kennard.” During the discussion, she encouraged people never to forget they are talking to other humans and to look for shared connections upon which to build their interaction and discussion.

“If we’re not able to see that humanity, we’re not really able to connect with that individual,” Kennard said, “and so all hopes of really resolving the conflict in any way, or at least managing it, kind of go out the door.”

To connect, she recommended people put in the effort to educate themselves about other people and other cultures.

“The more that you can try to understand and learn about people, and cultures, and interactions, you are better prepared to show up in more intentional and engaged ways,” she said.

In concluding the 34-minute podcast, Christian asked the Ohio Wesleyan faculty member to share one key piece of advice to help them “Negotiate Anything.”

“When people listen to this and they’re looking for one simple place to start,” Christian asked, “what would that place be?”

“I would say it’s OK to mess up,” Kennard said. “Messing up is human, and it’s going to happen. … But that’s where the greatest things come from, too. Nothing good comes from comfort zones, as I’ve been told. And so, it’s getting out of that comfort zone and recognizing that you’re going to make mistakes, and it’s going to be OK.”

At Ohio Wesleyan, Kennard teaches intercultural communication, persuasion, public speaking, conflict management, and research methods. She has conducted research on strategic message design within the realm of crafting prosocial/health campaigns and effective interventions, and she has examined the impacts of media representations on identity.

In addition to Christian’s popular “Negotiate Anything” podcast, he also is the author of the books “Finding Confidence in Conflict” and “How to Have Difficult Conversations About Race,” which he discussed in September at Ohio Wesleyan in a free community event sponsored by the University and the Delaware County Foundation.