Latin America

Don’t just talk: Change the conversation

Victoria Herrera
I learned one very important lesson: if we didn’t like the direction the conversation was going, we could change it

CONVERSATION CHANGER. Victoria on board 'The Dollhouse' with Sarah Meier. Photo by Maj Liwanag

MANILA, Philippines – I stared at the clock: 5:59am. In one minute, I would be going live on my (then) radio show, The Dollhouse, together with Sarah Meier. Unlike other hosting work, we don’t have a set script before the show starts.

We just have conversations as organically as we can for 3 hours. To find topics, we usually look through various newspapers, online media, or callers would throw topics our way. While some topics ranged from political affairs to random celebrity news, I remembered we would always have energized, vibrant, and positive conversations.

Treasure trove: ‘Unscripted’

However there were times when negative and dark topics would come up. That’s the reality of life. News isn’t always full of sprinkles and rainbows. Comments aren’t always smiling emoticons. But I learned one very important lesson: if we didn’t like the direction the conversation was going, we could change it.

While the station eventually closed a few months later, I realized that this lesson doesn’t just limit itself to hosting, but to ALL conversations we have in life.

We all have the power to change the conversation.

Our lives are filled with conversations and we can choose which way they can go.

Everyday, we have conversations with our self, our family, and our friends. We have conversations online via social media, and we have conversations at work with our bosses and co-workers.

A good practice would be to become more aware of the conversations we are having in all of these aspects.

How do you talk to yourself?

How many times have you allowed negative criticism to consume your morning routine? Many people constantly say, “I’m so fat” or “I’m so broke.” If we become trapped in a cycle of negative self-talk, our self-esteem suffers and these statements become self-fulfilling prophecies.

To change the conversation, practice becoming more aware of how you speak to yourself.

Affirm your positive traits and don’t be so hard on yourself. You can instead say, “I am working on achieving a healthy mind, body, and spirit,” or “I can learn more about money if I apply myself to seek out more resources and teachers.”

Doesn’t the feeling leave you more inspired and empowered?

What do you talk about with others?

When I have conversations with other people, I try to stay aware of where a conversation is heading.

Are we talking about the same problems over and over again? Are we blaming other people? Are we criticizing other people? Who isn’t guilty of bringing up past issues or diving into gossip? (I know I am!)

I remember the times when I would talk about the same fight over and over, reliving the past and the pain, or I’ve allowed a friend of mine to dwell in a break-up story. Do you know where that took us? Nowhere! We both ended up leaving the conversation feeling drained and even more annoyed.

In changing the conversation, try to practice shifting your mind to the direction of progress.

Move forward. Maybe you can share the lessons you learned from that experience, and how it made you a stronger and wiser person. While I still find this challenging to practice in real life, I know that it’s important to try to practice the shift.

It’s fine to talk about it to express the negative experiences you’ve encountered, but the trick is to not live in the past.

Can’t I just avoid negative conversations completely?

Sometimes you can: If you’re around people who like to talk about negative things repeatedly, despite your efforts to uplift the energy of the conversation, it’s best to start creating space between you two.

You don’t need any more bitter complaints, irrational fears, or spiteful messages to fill your mind.

But on the other hand, sometimes we need to face negative conversations.

You see, some people have to talk about negative experiences in an effort to share and connect with others, but it’s how we handle the conversation that matters.

I remember one vivid experience during the radio show where we discussed depression and suicide in the country. I was so afraid to handle this sensitive topic on air because they weren’t in our usual roster of light and sunny topics.

But as the conversation progressed and the feedback came in, I realized a lot of people were gaining a better understanding on the topic. They were learning. They were absorbing. They were connecting.

The power of conversations like these is that you can shape them to provide an avenue for better understanding and healing.

Together, you can find the light in darkness through the power of conversation.

These topics can be a jump off point for a deeper dialogue and a sense of connection.

That experience taught me that pain and struggle is very real, and it’s scary and lonely to not be able to talk to anyone about what you’re going through. Even though we feel uncomfortable, we can’t always turn a blind eye and avoid the conversation.  

So, not all negative conversations are entirely bad. Difficult conversations help us move past what has been blocking us in life. It’s important to air them and allow light to find it’s way through. Through this, we develop greater courage and strength.

How can I join the conversation?

It’s really empowering to know that we can shape a conversation if we decide to. It’s unfortunate that not everyone exercises this power.

I think at times we engage in conversations very passively. It’s like floating along a river, letting the current take us downhill.

But now we know that we are in charge of the messages we put out there. So don’t let other people dictate the direction of the conversation. Contribute your own voice.

How will you start today? –


Victoria Herrera

Victoria Herrera is a TV and event host, model, and writer. In 2011, she released her first book, “Unscripted,” based on inspiring conversations on her previous radio show. In 2012, she hosted Runway TV Asia where she interviewed international fashion designers and celebrities. Currently based between Manila and Singapore, she continues to explore the world of creativity, design, and fashion as a contributor for several magazines and newspapers. 


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