Entries in communication (1)

Tuesday
Nov232010

Let's talk about it

The best way to light up a dark room is to turn on the light. After all, have you ever heard of a dark switch?

So the best way to deal with any situation that is underlying, is to talk about it.

So why is it that conflict seems to be something to be avoided at all costs when it comes to conversation? We'd rather not address topics or situations that make us uncomfortable.

The funny thing is that growth occurs outside of our comfort zone. So when we avoid uncomfortable situations, we are avoiding the very situations that would aid us in our growth. 

So how do we gather information upon which to make decisions? Do we listen to the loudest voice? And is that loudest voice the voice of the vocal minority or the silent majority? If most people are afraid to speak up because they want to avoid conflict, it would seem the only answer to that question is that the vocal minority is making the decisions for us in many aspects of our lives.

It seems to me that most of the voices that are speaking these days are the voices on the edge - on the fringe - closer to the extreme views of current topics and events. Why else would we hear so much about the negative aspects of "the other side"?

Our most recent election was another example of extremism. We've proven over and over again that negative or attack ads are the most effective ways for political candidates to get elected. The silent majority may not agree with that statement, but fewer of them are speaking and the negative campaigns continue to "work." 

I believe the silent majority is really closer to the center on many topics than those elected to represent us, but their job as politicians is to sway people to one side or another. Differentiation has become an art. That's why all we hear is the edges.

Let's bring that same sentiment back to our homes and our workplaces. We seem to prefer conflict avoidance as our communication tool of choice because we just don't want to hurt anyone's feelings or cause defensiveness. Could that be because we don't know better? Because we don't know how to have a true dialogue where we suspend our previous assumptions in order to learn from each other?

We think we have to have all the answers and stand up for what we believe at the expense of learning because we don't want to be wrong. But remember, growth happens when we are uncomfortable. If we haven't changed, we haven't learned. 

How do you gather your information? How do you make decisions? What is the truth? And does the Truth even need to be defended? If it's the Truth, why would it? How do we know?

People are hungry for acceptance and meaning and appreciation. They are ready to have real, meaningful conversations, even if it means they may become uncomfortable. 

Do we want new results? Then we have to make new choices and have new conversations. Einstein said it best when he said we can't solve the current problems with the same thinking that got us here in the first place.

If we're committed to new results, then we are willing to do whatever it takes to get them. The first step is to admit that we may not know everything and there may be other information to gather. It really is amazing and gratifying to know that simply by letting down our own defenses and asking better questions, we can learn more from and about other people.

So let's talk about whatever it is that seems to keep us separated, whether that's in our families, our cities, our workplaces, our churches, our schools or anyplace we find ourselves in community. 

(This is an example of the conversations we have every Saturday morning at 9 a.m. on Bigger Small Talk Radio. Tune in and call in to AM1100 The Flag or listen to our podcasts by clicking on the link on the right side of this page.)