Robust Conversation

There are many ways to have ineffective conversation, and few ways to have robust conversation. 

Robust conversation is not in the realm of labels and rackets. Ad hominem attacks, straw men, and accusations live there, but there is not room for authenticity or discourse in that space.
Robust conversation is not in the realm of the lowest common denominator, where no one expresses anything unique or potentially contradictory to keep things politically correct.

Robust conversation makes room for the one and the many, and for our oneness and manyness. 

Let's explore that.

One example:

Say we are putting on a workshop on nutrition. We invite people from various viewpoints and dietary systems to come and speak. That's a great start, but how are we going to inhabit that space?

We could fall into labeling. Gluten-free, paleo, vegan, vegetarian, none-of-the-above. Without seeking to understand why people eat and live the way they do, we could bring our own projection of the idea we think they represent. Or we could sink to the lowest common denominator. We all want everyone to be healthy, right? So let's not say ANYTHING that would offend anyone else.

Or, we could live the third way. We could live in the beauty and potential challenge of robust conversation. We could ask people to bring their evidence, their story, their reasons, their results, their ethos. We could listen. We could share our own points of view with passion, integrity and authenticity. We could consider someone else's information and transformation, see the similarities and the differences, and accept it. We could even appreciate it. Then we can ask questions, share opinions or conflicting evidence, and do it in a way that continues understanding and appreciation. Maybe our dietary choices won't change, but I'm guessing we'll all have a lot to chew on.

Robust conversation allows for and appreciates diversity. Robust conversation builds common ground and shared values. Robust conversation creates safe space for us to be true to ourselves, and to take ownership of our views. 

The world needs robust conversation. Let's start.
Benjamin FaderComment