No. 51
October 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. 
Thank you for reading!

No Wonder!
The image below landed in Facebook the other day.  It didn't come from a "friend".  I think I got it because Facebook has "my number", as it were - an algorithm set-up!  So be it!  I'm glad to have the image.  I've seen enough of similar graphics to appreciate the reality it conveys.

This graphic reminds us that understanding another person is far more difficult than it first seems.  What if we take it as a good rule of thumb that we never really understand what a person has said -- not until we can communicate to the speaker's satisfaction what we have heard him or her say?  It is best to check whether we are seeing the world the way the person we are talking to is seeing it.  One way to check is to reflect in our own words what the speaker seems to mean. The speaker's response will tell us whether or not we have fully understood.

Here's a strategy to try that we use sometimes in Fearless Conversations.  It's especially helpful when you're immersed in a controversial topic.  Before starting a conversation, agree that before anyone can make a point or express an opinion of their own, they must first restate the previous point or opinion that has been spoken.  Parroting the words of the previous speaker proves that you've heard only the speaker's words. So, the restatement must be in the listener's own words and accurate enough to satisfy the speaker

Extra time and effort?  Yes.  But does what you're talking about matter?  Do you care about it?  If yes, then this strategy is worth a try.  It actually generates calm because it minimizes reactivity.  It gives people a chance to relax, slow down and refrain from speaking out of judgment or defensiveness.  And, surprisingly, it can turn a tense conversation into fun and enjoyment.  Yes, really!

Heartening Stories
Many thanks to our readers for sharing heartening stories with us. They give us encouragement, support and inspiration.

"I had the opportunity to exercise some of the newsletter contents last month.  An old 'die hard' conservative friend stayed with us for four days.  We had time for lengthy conversations and it was a joy that we could share our views thoughtfully and gently.  We gave each other lots of room to exchange ideas and feelings.  It was an expanding four days and felt very good.  I think he felt the same.  If we were in government, I think we could have worked together."

"While we sat in the waiting room [in a hospital], a woman began to talk to me about Kaepernick's sitting for the National Anthem. She said she had started to make a judgment about him, then said, 'but I reminded myself that I am trying to be curious first, so I want to hear why he chose to do that.  I think we need to understand first why people think and do what they do.  If only the world could do that.'  Curious.  Good to be curious first.  Look for goodness first.  Judgment, if ever, last and best not at all."
                                                 Maureen Hilliard


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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