Why A Better Conversation?

I believe there’s a deep yearning for A Better Conversation – one that transcends the framework of either/or, I’m right, you’re wrong, of this way, not that. One that helps us get beyond anger and hostility, mockery and contempt, self-righteousness and “I told you so.”  One that helps you feel you’re moving, growing and being generative.

There are many people looking for conversations that help them make meaning of their lives in ways that feel productive, cooperative, and provides peace and equanimity. Conversations that foster the patience to tolerate difference and dissonance, the dignity of respecting one’s self and the other, and the deep joy that comes from a heightened sense of being alive.

Many people are looking for ways to discuss topics that enlighten and stretch, that help them understand challenges and conflicts in ways that lead to new ideas, and agree or disagree in a way that opens doors, helps them live peacefully or at least tolerantly – if not comfortably – with their neighbors.

With globalization, with communication across cultures, ages, languages, religions, ethnicities, we face new and complex challenges to our understanding of our world instantaneously, 24/7, 365.

I think people are looking for a way to have a conversation that makes room and welcomes this diversity, this connection, these challenges, and helps us live together more peacefully, respectfully, and lovingly.

I created A Better Conversation to help make this happen.  Please join me!

 


What Makes It “Better?”

I believe in the inalienable right of each person to speak and be heard, in a way that respects the dignity of the speaker and others – the listeners.

At A Better Conversation, we learn how to speak and share our selves and our ideas in a way that is respectful of our audience.

I have faith in this process, have fostered it and have seen it work.


What helps you learn?

What influences a person’s learning, at his or her deepest levels? What shapes it, nurtures it, instructs it, inhibits or blocks it, or enriches it? I’ve spent my professional career and personal life exploring these questions. A Better Conversation is the next step to pursuing this passion.

I love chocolate cake, sunshine, clothes, the Dave Matthews Band, traveling, reading, watching tennis, and philosophy. All these things – and many more – help me learn and be the person who does her utmost to foster A Better Conversation.

But I have to give a special shout out to dogs. All my life, they’ve helped me the most.

This is Buddy.

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Before Buddy there was Woody and Gracie….

I love dogs as much as I love to learn. I love dogs because they help me learn, listen and pay attention.  They help me over the hurdles, get unstuck and provide the light.

What are these things for you? What are the things that help you learn & find light?


What Are You Capable Of?

Over the course of my professional career, I’ve had wonderful conversations with colleagues who have shared “profound” and eloquent insights.

One such person is Paul Perkinson, currently Head of The Hudson School in New Jersey.  In an interview he did for me years ago, he shared how he regards the students and staff at his school, and why he does what he does:

“I think each person is capable of profound beauty, profound brilliance, profound gratitude, profound giving, and most important, profound loving. And a meaningful life is nurturing that in other people, bringing that out in other people, giving them language so that they can better understand themselves.”

I love that.


One of the Many Things Tennis Can Teach Us

I happen to be a tennis fan. I watch the champions and marvel at how they say similar things, work with the same equipment, play on the same surface, hit a ball with a racket across a net. Yet no two are alike, in what they say, do or how they play.

I marvel at that because, despite each unique variation and the range of styles, they’re all still champions. And perhaps that’s a key to why. They start with knowing themselves, their unique talent, personality, needs, understanding of the world, and build from there. They then take what needs to be done to play tennis & shape it to their various needs & gifts.

There’s no way Roger Federer could be a champion if he played and lived his life like Rafael Nadal and vice versa….let alone Novak Djokovic.  Same is true for Serena Williams.  She’s an entirely different player from her very sister, Venus.

This simple example reminds me of something we value highly at A Better Conversation.  Everyone is different and has to find his or her way to do what she or he wants and can do.  We’re pretty unequivocal about that.

There’s no way you will be able to live by your better angels, in the fullness of your unique human dignity if you try to live the same way another does. The only way is if you embrace your unique, varied ways of doing and making meaning of things, and the range that lives within. The same is true for everyone out there.


What is a warrior?

Here’s a good example of a time I had to “unpack an assumption.”

One of the joys & benefits of A Better Conversation is learning new meanings for words that expand & enhance our previous interpretations.  Particularly for words that might push our buttons or rub us the wrong way.

The word “warrior” was always one of those for me.  But when interviewing a professor of business communication (someone I greatly respected), I learned a new meaning.  A new meaning that changed my life.  Here’s what she said.

“A warrior?  …Being a warrior is a way of standing, a way of positioning yourself in the earth, a way of being rooted.

 It’s that a kind of rootedness in terms of the heartfulness that is important to me – that living in the heart, that kind of rootedness in the heart.

 And from that place you move forward into living. And you move forward with grace.

 And you also move forward with courage – with energy and with strength.”

Now I want to be a warrior.

Thank you Ana.

(Next I’ll tell you how she defines courage!  Read on!)


Courage

Another example of “unpacking an assumption.”

After Ana described “warrior” she kept talking and added this:

“I find that sometimes, it takes a tremendous amount of bravery and courage to take a lot into the world.

Particularly when you know that the world may not be receptive to the message you’re bringing or… that in some parts of the worlds that we live, that message might not be able to be heard.”

I had to ask her what she meant by courage.

“Courage? Courage, well….it’s finding the energy to get up and to go out there and to do the work that needs to be done, and to do it.

…knowing that maybe you’re NOT going to feel a lot of support….

…that you’re not going to have a lot of sweet words coming back to you or even feel appreciated, but knowing that you’re called to something

…and trusting that calling.

It’s not out of a blind faith.

It’s much deeper than that.

It comes from a kind of weathering of the soul…

a kind of growth where you’ve been challenged,

and you’ve opened,

and you’ve grown,

and you’re open to continuing growth.”

More gems.  I loved all of this.  But the phrase “weathering of the soul” has particularly stuck with me.  What about you?

Not only did I get new and expansive conceptualizations of words, via my better conversations with Ana (& everyone I interviewed).  I also found new, compelling descriptions of what I wanted to be, how I wanted to live and what I valued in this world.  Because, to use Ana’s words, I’m “open to continuing growth.”

That’s at the heart and soul of A Better Conversation.  Learning how our words can mean so many different things, carry with them different connotations and significance, and being open to hearing those differences.