There seems to be a surfeit of difficult conversations these days that hover around topics like masks, vaccines, back to school policies, world affairs, and the federal budget, just to name of few. I'm not even sure the title of this post accurately reflects our current state, as the "pan"-demic, according to many scientists and medical professionals, is becoming "en"-demic. The Covid 19 virus, they say, will be with us for a while, endemic to our health landscape, though that is also up for debate.
An article by Meg Griffiths about the kinds of questions we have as the pandemic changes and continues to affect our work, family and communities came across my screen recently. Meg is the assistant director of programs at Essential Partners, a non-profit I've been involved with over the years that fosters constructive dialogue wherever conflicts are driven by differences in identities, beliefs and values.
Behind Every Belief Is a Person With a Story
From my experience there's a lot of that kind of conflict right now. We are more interested in us--our opinion, our rightness--than in the community, the whole, the common. We don't know how to express ourselves without making others wrong or defensive, and we don't know how to listen to others' strongly held beliefs without becoming defensive ourselves.
This is a link to Meg's article: 3 Tips for Managing the Transition to Post-Pandemic Civic Life. It's brief and to the point, the premise being that we can regain our footing in these difficult conversations if we:
- Communicate with intention
- Slow down and listen
- Check out our assumptions
Essential Partners is a driving force for good in the world. They partner with civic, regional, national, and international groups to help people everywhere have the most difficult conversations there are while simultaneously strengthening relationships within the group.
Not For Everyone
Not everyone desires to get better at these three practices. Not everyone involved in a difficult conversation wants to solve the problem or build the relationship. Some would rather shout than listen, and everyone isn't interested in checking out their assumptions or clarifying their intention.
But if you would like to hold difficult conversations in ways that foster solutions, learning, and connection, please read the article and practice the principles. It will help transform your difficult conversations into learning conversations, and help you help others do the same.