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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Create a Conversational Bridge, Harmony

Post Election Ideas from Nan and Guest Blogger Loren Ekroth.

Nan writes:
For me, post election time is a great time to affirm that to increase peace and even joy in my life, I need to take actions that help me move closer to my best self and others rather than look for ways to separate or cause disharmony. 

I work toward this goal by pausing before communicating with others to ask myself: What is my motive and am I being direct, honest, and kind in expressing my thought? Do I think it will make me happy, make me right, or fill my ego by getting the last word in or one-upping someone else? Try out the suggestions below to find common ground with your neighbor, family member, business associate, or newly elected or re-elected politician. Shine in the glow of equanimity.

Make conversations more productive, spacious and free. Practice the art of good listening, practice compromise or at least agree to disagree respectfully and civilly. What motivates your communication? Do you strive to really "hear" another person? What benefits has that brought to your relationships? Please leave a comment by clicking on the white envelope below this post to share those techniques that work for you.

Loren Ekroth, publisher of Better Conversations Newsletter “Raising the Standard of Conversation in Life,” is my special Guest today.

Loren writes:
I delayed publishing this week's Talking Pointer by one day, because many were preoccupied with the election (dated 11/7/12).
Pointer: You Don't Have to Disagree. Instead, You Can Understand

You can disagree and say so. Or you can choose to understand. That's your choice.
Dr. Alan Weiss suggests: "Don't feel constrained to tell someone when you disagree with a position. You're an adult. Someone else's opinion which has no bearing on you needn't be responded to in an eternal game of 'gotcha.'"

Instead, try understanding. Say "Help me understand your position. I'll listen carefully."

The late Steven Covey wisely counseled, "Seek first to understand." Good counsel, indeed, but not often put to use. Seeking understanding is about the conversers being emotionally mature and not easily prone to argue.

Here are two obstacles to civil discourse:
1. Many folks are closely identified with certain positions and candidates and become upset when others hold alternative or opposing positions. They ARE their positions. (A different way of thinking is to recognize that while you may hold certain positions, you are not your positions.)
2. Some people use another's beliefs or positions as a "litmus test" for friendship: Like "birds of a feather," they want to spend their time with those who share the same beliefs and preferences, and they become uncomfortable around people of a different persuasion. As a result, they gain very little experience trying to understand people with different points of view.

Unfortunately, rancorous disputes among friends and relatives are rather common during heated political seasons. Family members stop talking to one another. Work and business relationships are fractured. Even couples become estranged. (I have a longtime friend and a cousin who have "unfriended" me because I hold positions different from theirs.)

One more thing: If your candidates have won, don't gloat. If your candidates lost, don't whine and blame. Get over it. Then seek to heal any rifts.

Permission to reprint the proceeding from the “Better Conversations” Newsletter has been granted by Dr. Loren Ekroth,Ph.D., a specialist in human communication and a national expert on conversation skills for business and social life. Subscribe to "Better Conversations" newsletters at www.conversationmatters.com


The quote for today:

"We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak." - Epictetus

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