Along with my fellow teacher, Terri, we had little idea about what energy was about to be unleashed. The number of participants was three times what was expected, vocal, well spoken and engaged in our teaching process. Keeping them all on one subject at a time was the only difficulty.
The class was held at the Park Hill Library in Denver and was our first outing with “Help Me Understand”, working through how to dialogue with each other about volatile or difficult topics without overt animosity. How to listen deeply, what words to speak encouraging us to get us to the next level of sharing, and what our individual culture has us do without thinking are major topics of the venture.
Terri and I have, what I think, are good stories to express situations of human dialogue that either fail miserably, or chug along without too many hurt feelings to go on with the relationship. Because one word can be a trigger to fear and anger and a break of property or heads, the need to be aware of your language in difficult situations or times is VERY Important…as is your tone of voice.
One of the books I have read over and over is Deborah Tannen’s “That’s Not What I Meant”. Her examples are the best…The first time I read it I saw why several of my relationships had floundered or failed. She also talks about the conversation pauses we all use, like “sorry”, to smooth things but it is not a true apology. (The first time I heard some one say “MY BAD” thinking that was enough of an apology, I almost fainted.) ok, that was a bit of an exaggeration.
Training your brain to take a breath or three before you swim into deep water is a free and easy technique to practice. Practice becomes habit.
Our audience said that they were a bit tired of just talking their “truth” to the few people who agreed with them. They could see that it narrows your world view and that is never a step forward in your life. So, get out there and join a conversation–and watch the words that are falling out of your mouth into the collective culture. Kindness and respect for other opinions are always essential, but especially in times of upheaval.
Speak with love,