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How Difficult are YOUR Conversations?

From: Jay
Sent on: Friday, March 8, 2013 10:44 PM
Hello,
Someone asked at the Tuesday night workshop in Anubhuti - 'how far are we into kaliyuga (dark age in Hinduism or iron age in Greek mythology)'. How would you answer that?

I asked her to think of the worst atrocity she can imagine that a man can commit on another man, man can commit on mother nature and man can commit on animals. If that atrocity has already been committed, then it's probably very close to the end of kaliyuga. The next morning another person who heard this said 'but aren't atrocities an on-going, ever-growing thing?' I recalled a conversation some 10 years ago where a colleague said the strength of a chain is measured by its weakest link. A few people's acts in ignorance can be felt by the entire world.
But the good news is, after the coldest darkest night of winter the beautiful new day of spring will arrive.

This week I had a novel experience of helping build 12 beautiful miniature shrines for a celebration of Mahashivratri at the retreat center in Marin happening this weekend. These shrines along with multimedia will be used to unravel the symbolism of ancient rituals to commemorate the manifestations of the Divine.

Enjoy the passage on the anatomy of conversations!


Peace & blessings,

Janardhan

Difficult relationships usually mean difficult conversations.  Sometime focusing on enhancing the conversational dynamics can help the relationships be a little less difficult.  
 
'How dare they speak to me like that!' is a thought that becomes a memory of a 'bad feeling', that becomes a fear that it may happen again, that becomes a mental and emotional obstacle, that almost ensures you will have a difficult conversation in the future! 
 
It seems that some people breeze through life without any problem when speaking to anyone and everyone.  They cruise through all kinds of interactions while being open and reasonable, an empathic listener and a calm speaker, with a warm personality and an acceptance of everyone - without having been anywhere near the Diplomatic Corp!  While down at the other end of the conversational spectrum there are those who 'go off' like a box of fireworks in almost every encounter in which there is the slightest interpersonal sparkiness!  
 
Most of us are probably somewhere in between.  We are the 'inbetweeners' which means there are probably at least two or three people in our life with whom we just don't like to talk.  However, like Olympic Diving, there are usually 'degrees of difficulty' which, in the context of a conversation can range from slightly awkward to extremely difficult to almost impossible.  
 
The three main factors that underpin a difficult conversation are usually context, history and expectation.   
 
Context usually means a conversation around authority between manager and staff, or parent and child.  These tend to be two 'positions' talking at each other as opposed to two 'people' talking with each other.  Not a good start.  And unless one of the two can transcend their 'position consciousness' and connect with the other as a human being, it's likely to end badly, as many managers and parents will testify!
 
History usually means the conversation is going to be awkward and difficult today, because there was a previous encounter, which was not pleasant, and it's still a fresh memory from yesterday.   It's not easy to meet the 'the other' with a clean slate every time, let alone any time!  Some things are hard to forget, including some conversations.  Especially if you see each other every day.  But 'clean slate' is an ideal that is worth pursuing and a practice worth...practicing!  Otherwise we bring our baggage to our difficult relationships. It weighs us down and it stifles and smothers the relationship, while making the conversation defensive, closed and cautious.  
 
Expectation is either about what we want from the other or how we would like them to behave.  Expectation is the cardinal sin and the most common mistake that we commit within our conversations.  Expectation tends to be what quickly reduces a dialogue, where we are mutually exploring together, into a discussion, which is a just an exchange of different points of view, down into an argument about who is more right than the other.  The expectation usually sounds like 'I expect to be right on this'!  Any conversation that kicks off from any expectation is almost bound to hit the rocks at some stage.  But it's not easy to enter any interaction without expectation, or at least without a 'dependency' on our expectation being fulfilled.   
 
Next week we will look at eight suggested guidelines to drive, hazard and fog free, down the conversational road. 
 
©  Mike George 2013


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