I’ve been thinking lately, because of recent experiences in a number of situations, of the value of good conversation for deepening understanding and recognition of how similar we are, even in all our diversity. It wasn’t a surprise, therefore, when my copy of Turning To One Another, a book by Margaret Wheatley that I’ve had for years, showed up when I wasn’t looking. The book is subtitled “simple conversations to restore hope to the world.” This morning I read what might be a good reflection for those of us who are preparing to travel – near or far – during this Independence Day holiday time. Here’s some of what she said:
I first fell in love with the practice of conversation when I experienced for myself the sense of unity, of communion, that is available in this process…Although we each benefit individually from good conversation, we also discover that we were never as separated as we thought. Good conversation connects us at a deeper level. As we share our different human experiences, we rediscover a sense of unity. We remember we are part of a greater whole. And as an added joy, we also discover our collective wisdom. We suddenly see how wise we can be together. For conversation to take us into this deeper realm, I believe we have to practice several new behaviors. Here are the principles I’ve learned to emphasize before we begin a formal conversation process:
- we acknowledge one another as equals
- we try to stay curious about each other
- we recognize that we need each other’s help to become better listeners
- we slow down so that we have time to think and reflect
- we remember that conversation is the natural way humans think together
- we expect it to be messy at times.
If you have the opportunity to gather with others this weekend, especially with friends and loved ones that you don’t often see, (or even if you stay at home) I hope that you will remember the adage that “what is seldom is wonderful” and take counsel from Meg Wheatley in your time together. Safe travels, everyone.