Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Death or Dialogue

Conversations can change us.  Conversations can change organisations. Conversations can change climate and our planet’s demise.

In the face of our sixth extinction, where only transformational change in how we interact with nature will turn it around, we have to, to use the words of poet David Whyte, stop the conversations we have been having. 

The conversations that lead us to this point. The ones where we don’t truly listen but just wait to speak. The ones where the conversation is more like ping pong, where we just trade opinions and beliefs.  Opinions and beliefs which we really don’t even know the source of.  Or the ones where we seek evidence to justify or build on what we already know. The ones where we sit rigid with our fixed agenda or narrow focus.  The ones where we shout simple answers to complex problems or shut things down, because we can’t bear not being in control or not knowing. The ones where we don’t reveal how we actually feel. 

At Earth Converse we help leaders have the conversations they need to and guide the development of their dialogue skills.  In many respects, it is back to basics, unlearning and relearning to foster inclusivity and creativity, create systemic shift and generate collective awareness and positive action.   Where we remember our innocence and curiosity to ask questions. And to sit with those questions.   Where we listen, as the poet Mark Nepo says by leaning in softly, with a willingness to be changed by what we hear.  Where we become more aware of how our biases filter our view of the world, and influence what we embrace and what we dismiss.  Where we notice how our life positions influence how we regard ourselves and others, and how we turn up and engage in conversations.  Where we learn to sit with the emotions that arise and find new ways of responding. Where we learn how silence contributes to dialogue.

One of the most profound team conversations, was where I turned up in an Italian town and simply asked the team of European leaders as we sat in a circle of 7, what is the most important thing we need to talk about today?  It showed, as advocated by Otto Scharmer of Theory U, with an open mind, open heart and open will, we transform through dialogue.  Boundaries do collapse and from there, we can co-create new possibilities and paths.

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