What it takes to passionately disagree without being disagreeable:
Below are guidelines/agreements/intentions to facilitate constructive conversations. And some inspirational quotes to help you stay the course by being curious, vulnerable, and brave. Thanks in advance for abiding by them.
I didn’t make these up. Most come from my experience working with national dialogue organizations such as the Village Square and Living Room Conversations, as well as my professional training through Essential Partners. And my personal experience through making mistakes prior to learning these rules as well as having some success in applying what I’ve learned.
And I’m still learning and failing. But that’s how we get better. Right?
Our families, communities, churches, and nation need face to face, heart to heart, hard but respectful conversations more than ever. We need to be curious rather than combative. We need to seek conversation rather than conversion. We need less fear and more faith in people’s desire to be decent human beings. We need less judgement and more brave vulnerability.
I look forward to having a conversation with you.
Six intentions for a fruitful conversation:
1. I will listen with respectful curiosity and offer the most generous interpretation of the intentions of others as I hope others will do for me.
2. I will avoid making grand sweeping judgements. Rather, I will connect what I hear and express to my life experience and beliefs. I will not speak on behalf of groups, institutions, or other individuals.
3. I will listen with resilience, “hanging in” when I hear something that is hard to hear and remembering that this conversation is about me understanding the other person, rather than persuade them.
4. I will share airtime fairly and refrain from interrupting others.
5. I will pass and let others pass if I or they do not want to comment.
6. I will honor the confidentiality of participants and conversations
Well said by the well spoken:
Both skepticism and wonder are skills that need honing and practice.
A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words.
Rachel Naomi Remen
If you want peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.
It was impossible to get a conversation going, every-body was talking too much.
Say as you think and speak it from your souls.
Change happens by listening and then starting a dialogue with the people who are doing something you don’t believe is right.
The beginning of thought is in disagreement- not only with others but also with ourselves.