Brian McLaren's brief video offers a bit of truth that me thrive in community, be it church, civic, family, friends...any community. I believe that the following four things give me mindful guidance for entering into my conversations and reflecting on my conversations. (FYI I know I don't do all of these, all the time, with all of my abilities...and yet I'm working on it.):
- Listen First: I seek to take time to really listen so that I understand the other's viewpoint to their satisfaction. A coaching colleague of mine relayed the acronym W.A.I.T. (Why Am I Talking) as a reminder to listen first and to talk with purpose;
- Open to Learning: I admit that conversation can't truly happen when my conclusions begin an exchange. It's worth considering "I may be wrong" or "I may be able to learn something new." I've never been disappointed by finding that I knew all there was to know, or by not learning something new about the topic at hand or the person with whom I was talking;
- Honesty Sharing: I find that after listening and openness, it's critical to be honest in expressing my personal beliefs, perspectives, and opinions with neutral language, as well as appropriate passion. When I fail to be me, I cheat others from listening and learning. I also often feel powerless. Neither is good or necessary;
- Love Generously: I don't need to agree with you to love you. In healthy conversations my love/respect won't be misconstrued for approval of all you have said. We all believe what we do because we think it's right, the best option. We all have convictions and passions and no one has all the answers, so we do well to begin and end with gracious love that respects our conversation partner's experience, convictions and person.
What helps you have better conversations?