How to talk to anyone

How to talk to anyone

The "Difficult Conversations" workshop grew out of a cross-country “conversation road trip” my son and I took following the 2016 election. Our goal was to better understand what people outside our “bubble” were thinking and feeling, and to discover how we might heal our divide.

But as our tour unfolded, we realized our conversations were less about understanding and more about simply connecting. About setting aside our personal agendas and showing genuine curiosity, care and concern. About taking time to build relationship.

Heart and Mind: The two dimensions of communication

Heart and Mind: The two dimensions of communication

In her TED talk, "I grew up in the Westboro Baptist Church. Here's why I left," Megan Phelps-Roper offers four conditions that, when met, enable us to have constructive conversations with "the other." Her first three conditions are examples of the  heart dimension of communication, and her last is an example of the mind dimension. 

The 3:1 ratio is important. Too often we short-change the heart dimension, creating a relationship that lacks the connection, trust and resilience necessary for engaging in a difficult conversation.

The following fleshes out the heart and mind dimensions in a little more detail.

The ground beneath "common ground"

The ground beneath "common ground"

"I just prayed that the workshop would give me some tools to manage whatever interactions might transpire with this guy." 

That's what Amy thought as she unintentionally sat down next to a Trump supporter at a recent Difficult Conversations workshop. Over the course of the day she made a critical discovery: What we typically think of as common ground —shared opinions, attitudes and beliefs — is in reality a false floor.