In a world full of filters – both literally and figuratively – the art of an authentic conversation has become endangered. Often times we find ourselves so paralyzed by opposing opinions that we feel the only respectable place to be is in neutral. It begs the question that in a world which appears to be blossoming with elevated vocality by some…are our individual voices getting lost in the mix?
From conversing with peers and team members to communication with family and loved ones, topics such as race, religion, equality and politics to name a few can easily become intense. While there is nothing wrong with opposing opinions – and arguably the confluence of them can breed great outcomes – the word “can” is important to note. How communication is delivered, how information is received and how individuals choose to respond to it all determines whether or not opposing views can co-exist.
“If you want to be a good conversationalist, be a good listener. To be interesting, be interested.” – Dale Carnegie
In a divided world that is craving unity, perhaps the right next step is learning how to have compassionate and authentic conversations. We often here sentences begin with “I’m sorry, but…” followed by someone’s opinion. Whether in a personal or professional setting this literally has us apologizing before we have even finished our sentence. At what point did it become okay to feel bad for having an opinion? While how an opinion is expressed and received can certainly go haywire, simply having one should not be something that comes with shame or keeps us from being able to express our views in a respectful way.
In order to have an unapologetic authentic conversation, consider these key steps:
- Seek first to listen. Check your ego at the door and truly hear what the person is sharing – without prepping your reply.
- Seek to understand. Instead of making it about being right or wrong, ask questions that can help the person sharing educate you on how they arrived at their opinion or position.
- Seek to honor the person’s truth. What is unique and true for each person is unique and true to them. And that is ok – as your unique truth is yours as well.
Creating space to hear someone is an active practice and one that nurtures unity alongside true connection. It also breeds a judgement free zone where opposing views can live in harmony. While there may always be a degree of division between humans, we can all do our part to help minimize the destruction that can come from it. After all, it is often said that the power of one united voice will always be stronger than two divided voices.