If we call out an obscenity (expletive delete) at somebody, we are seeking a confrontation. It takes little effort to shout out a demeaning term and leaves few viable response options. If we say, ‘I do not agree with your choice,’ we open a dialogue. The other party might respond with a questions and we can clarify what actions are not agreeable.
Are we trying to start confrontations or conversations? Shouting obscenities might feel good in the moment but they are a lazy form of communication. Acknowledging that something does not resonate but leaving room for interpretation requires a different mindset.
If we want a fight, slander away. If we want to engage and learn, be curious about different perspectives.
If you were excused from any worry about raising money from a prospective donor, what conversation would you strike-up? How would it feel to speak with a person, free from the pressure of securing their financial support for your cause? What questions would you ask? What would you share? How long would you be willing to speak with this individual?
Why not try it? Have a real conversation with another person who supports your cause. Avoid the FAQs and mission statement (unless they ask). See if the interaction is remarkably different or the same.
Promoting conversation is not our highest decision-making achievement, rather curating a remarkable process is the goal. How do we enhance meaningful dialogue empowered by individual perspectives? What is the result of our current conversation ritual? Do we create a culture of inquiry and seek out the dark corners? Or do we defer to the convenience of routine?
John’s talk identifies three beliefs that hinder powerful conversation:
Dissent equals disloyalty
Criticism of an idea does equals criticism on and individual
Disagreement with consensus equals not being a team player
What if we insisted on a dynamic process and bold conversations before making remarkable decisions?
This is not about an NFL team with a controversial name. Rather the attention surrounding the Washington, DC football team is the headwaters for a greater conversation. Who determines what is respectful and appropriate? There is not secret and august committee to hands down decrees. We have to wrestle with words, context, intent, and community consensus. Each one of us plays a pivotal role. Just renaming an NFL football team misses the big question. I suspect there are hundreds of college, high school, semi-pro, and club teams that will need to engage their fans and communities in dialogue about the appropriateness of how they refer to themselves. If renaming is deemed the best course of action, what to call ourselves now? There will be no quick fix, unless we are seeking compliance. This topic demands a dialogue. Many people need to be heard and express their opinions. Only through conversation and story-telling can we find our way. Community values do not cascade from re-branding campaigns. They generate from our beliefs. We must believe in order to act with meaning and purpose.