No. 49
August 2016

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Welcome to the monthly Fearless Conversations newsletter - information and ideas to support and inspire us to create a world in which fearless conversations are common in our workplaces, communities, families and friendships. 

At the writing of this newsletter, we are deluged with stories of unspeakable violence and relentless discord.  I don't want to even imagine what we could be confronting by the time this newsletter lands in your mailbox on August 1.  Wanting to go forward in the face of such uncertainty, I begin this newsletter with some excerpts from a Facebook post written by Anne Lamott.  Whether or not you have already seen her post, I offer it as encouragement for us to support one another with hope, inspiration, perspective, and humor.  You can click on the link to the full piece at the end of the excerpts.
Thank you, always, for connecting to Fearless Conversations ~

"Life has always been this scary here, and we have always been as vulnerable as kittens . . . How on Earth do we respond when we are stunned and scared and overwhelmed . . . I wish there was an 800 number we could call to find out . . . I know that we MUST respond.  We must respond with a show of force equal to the violence and tragedies, with love force.  Mercy force.  Un-negotiated compassion force . . . What is true is that the world has always been this way . . . when all is said and done . . . Love is sovereign here."

Anne Lamott ~ Facebook post ~ July 15, 2016

What's Your CQ?
Have you heard about  It's advertised regularly on NPR. "is based on learning science which shows people who stretch their brain - in other words, build their Curious Quotient (CQ) - for a few minutes a day - are happier, more successful, and live longer."  When you go to the site, you are invited to create your "curious profile" out of which you are sent "daily doses" of things you can read or do to build your CQ. 

Intrigued - i.e. curious! - I went to the site to check it out.  I signed up to receive CQ daily doses which land in my email -- so far the ones that are free and take just a couple of minutes to do!

Ultimately, though, I am more intrigued about the role of curiosity in our ability to have fearless conversations. I believe curiosity is an essential factor in our heart health as well as our brain health. Curiosity pumps life into how we relate to and communicate with one another.  The CQ rating scale is straightforward and simple: HIGH - MODERATE - LOW.  I've begun to use the scale as a tool for building capacity to engage in fearless conversations. The higher our curiosity, the greater our ability to abandon judgment, to listen wholeheartedly, to learn from what we hear, and to give and receive empathy.  The lower our curiosity, the harder it is to boot away our fears of talking to one another.  If our curiosity is high we find it easier to open up topics that we ordinarily might not touch. 

Curiosity is tricky.  It's most often not our starting point with one another because it's locked behind our assumptions, stereotypes and judgments -- or simply the things we just naturally take for granted.  Sometimes it takes an "if only . . ." experience to Curiosity Moves You Forward sign with sky background prompt a knock on the door of curiosity and maybe open it a bit. 
If only I knew how to ask them  . . .
If only she heard what I meant . . .
If only we had considered . . . 
If only I had known . . .
It takes intention and practice to be curious.  What about creating some "daily doses" to build up our relationship CQ?  With intention and practice we can make curiosity our starting position with one another rather than an afterthought.

If we accept just a few defining and descriptive words about curiosity, we have some prompts to create a few of our own CQ daily doses.  The dictionary says curiosity is a strong desire to know or learn something.  Rick Hanson describes curiosity as an attitude of wonder and interest.  He also talks about the willingness to look again; the root meaning of the word "respect" is to look back, to look again.  Using some of these defining and descriptive words about curiosity, I offer a few suggestions for creating our own CQ daily doses. 

Take the opportunity to deepen my understanding of another person.  In conversation say something like: "I'd like to check if I'm understanding what you want me to understand about . . ."

In conversation, take the time to ask: "I am wondering what you are feeling about what I just said?"

Before giving my opinion, imagine a few things about the other person(s):  What's important to her about this?  What does he really care about here?  What matters most to them about this?

Think of a recent situation in which I was triggered and reactive.  Ask: What were my needs?  my feelings?  What do I want to do differently next time? 

Business questions concept with a question mark symbol and sign on a multitude of scattered colorful papers.
How would you rate your "CQ"? 
High?  Medium?  Low? 

When you judge your CQ high, what makes it so?  What works well?  If you judge your CQ low, what kind of "daily dose" could help raise it?  If it's medium, what do you already do pretty well that you could do more of?

This CQ idea is "under construction" for me.  I'd love to hear what "daily doses" you would suggest to build our relationship CQ and our capacity to engage in fearless conversations.  With your permission I will share your daily doses in the newsletter so we can learn from one another.

About Fearless Conversations
Fearless Conversations serves non-profit organizations, schools, faith communities and businesses.  Typical requests are for design and facilitation of visioning or team-building retreats, strategic planning, meeting facilitation, transition planning, decision-making processes.

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