SomaNews January-February 2019

Can we talk?

“Different people, in good faith, can look at the same fact and interpret it differently.
But that's where an interesting conversation begins.”

— Eric Schlosser


A lot of “tough” conversations are happening today. I remember when growing up, my understanding of a tough conversation was yelling at one another. Maybe for you it was ignoring the situation completely or letting others take control of the conversation. I didn’t learn how to have a “generative conversation.”

Being curious, truly listening, asking how questions not why questions, the mood and intention in which you speak – these support a generative conversation.

Our world tends toward a good or evil duality, where there is no blend. For instance, in our political system, we have the left wing and the right wing, often with polarizing views. We have topics such as global warming, gun control and abortion – seen as either right or wrong. I realize there are people who are willing and wanting to understand each other’s views, but it seems the majority are not.

"Can we talk?"

The important word here is we. It is an invitation to express yourself and listen to the expression of the other. Conversation is interactive communication between two or more people, not a one-sided monologue.

Remember the Peanuts specials where the adults’ voices were a “wah wah” sound? How many conversations have you been in where you felt you were heard that way, or you heard the conversation that way?

So, what is generative conversation?  

Simply stated, it is to speak to the ear of the listener and to be heard yourself. It doesn’t mean you have to agree with each other; sometimes you agree to disagree.

We have conversations when:

  • Something is missing
  • Something is needed
  • Disagreements and/or breakdowns occur

Such conversations can be challenging. So I'm offering some keys to "generative" conversation — conversation that generates or fosters beneficial results.

Keys to Generative Conversation

Be patient. Bring in practices of empathy and connection. Always remember there is another human being on the other side. Be kind.
Always hold the dignity and integrity of the other. Treat them as you would want to be treated. Being mean is NOT an option.
Be a good listener. There is a point of view that may or may not correspond to yours. Be open even if unconvinced. Be willing to change your point of view. Ask questions until you fully understand the point of view.
Be willing to compromise. Relationships are a series of collaborative compromises. Be willing to compromise and remember to share the compromising.
For trust, accountability is critical. Be willing and impeccable in your accountability to the conversation. Being accountable builds trust.

The next time you have a conversation, how do you want to enter in?

You don’t have to give up your point of view to be a listener for someone else’s point of view. Taking a stand in your conversation doesn't mean “fighting against” the other. The mood and intention in which you speak makes the listener more apt to hear you, and in that you keep your dignity and the other in the conversation.

“A real conversation always contains an invitation. You are inviting another person to reveal herself or himself to you, to tell you who they are or what they want,” offers poet and speaker David Whyte

What are your thoughts?

Let's Talk!

Are you interested in learning more about holding generative conversations? I invite you to connect with me to explore working together.

For couples, my husband (Mark Mooney) and I can assist you to communicate in ways that support the growth of your relationship.

Contact me for a free sample session!