Like many people in the United States these days, I’ve been feeling disbelief and dismay at the vitriolic and derisive discourse that has become more normalized than ever. More than ever, we need to find a way forward that brings life and constructive engagement to our communities, not more division, derision and death.
Often, people mistake skillful communication for being “nice.”
Being “civil” doesn’t mean hiding hard truths or watering ourselves down.
Skillful communication means showing up real, with all your emotions and passions, without running others over.
It means sharing personal stories, perspectives and experiences – not attacking, demeaning or scorning other people, particularly those expressing a different point of view.
As we head into the end of this year -amidst midterm elections and thanksgiving dinners – I’m reminding myself that if I really want to change the world (which I really do!), I can start with my own heart and with the energy beneath my own words.
If I want to show up with integrity, I need to model and embody the very thing that I am wishing for from others.
As Einstein famously said, “We cannot solve problems at the same level of thinking that created them,” and so:
When we object to judgmentalism, let’s not lead with more judgment.
Try reflective listening; focus on the underlying needs.
When we object to narrow-mindedness, let’s open our minds.
Ask curious questions.
When we object to self-righteousness, let’s be thoughtful and reflective.
Consider alternative points of view.
When we object to arrogance or ignorance, let’s not respond out of our own limited, biased or privileged understanding.
Share your confusion. Be humble.
Check for Understanding.
Be Together. On the same side. Of a round table.
So, this holiday season, when you don’t like what someone is dishing out, up-level your own response and bring the spirit, softness and strength that we are all longing to see so much more of in the world.
The secret to change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”