One of the goals of breathing life into this blog was to inspire and encourage new kinds of conversations: learning conversations. These are the kinds of encounters in which we take a conscious stance of pure curiosity towards our partner. The object is to find out more, in greater depth, with the attending details and essential frames of reference. The way is through listening. Listening with all the focus and dedication you can muster. With patient, kind listening you do more than make yourself available to your conversation partner, you offer a gift that is invaluable and has no price tag.
A fear that people often have when they are trying their hardest to listen is that they won’t be able to remain entirely focused or be able to let go of their own steady stream of thoughts. That is a valid concern and if you are worried about it, then you probably have good reason. However, when we turn our attention to our conversation partner’s journey, we can learn to join them in it by relaxing and creating space for them to share the full richness and flavor of the experience with us. We needn’t compare, contrast, or couple theirs with our own experiences; rather we can become curious about what change this particular adventure brought about for our partner. What sort of dilemma was she facing? How did she resolve it? What has she done with this new wisdom since?
A great way to practice the art of the learning conversation is to listen closely to the conversations we carry on most frequently: with ourselves. As Susan Scott so wisely reminds us in Fierce Conversations: “all conversations are with myself, and sometimes they involve other people.” If you can wrap your head around that notion and make peace with that fundamental understanding, then you cannot help but develop a new relationship to your own capacities to listen, understand and to actually be in the world. What happens when you apply a stance of full curiosity to your spectacular inner dialogues? I don’t want to spoil it for you completely – but suffice it to say, my questions have only gotten better and my curiosity continues to expand.
Be brave: Open your ears while you open your heart and you’ll find that the nature of your conversations will change because you have changed. Starting with yourself, with the busy bee conversations going on inside your head, become the patient and kind listener. Hear what you have to say to yourself and let it be what it is. No need to compare, contrast, couple or condemn – just listen and wonder. Then be open for what happens next.
And do read Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott ( NY: Berkley Books. 2004) by all means.