Raising the Dialogue, Part 3: When Do I Get to Talk?

A wee sentence tucked into each of my last two posts, each alluding to the need to address problematic words and behaviors, deserves a little attention today. This is where this conversation often gets to: Okay, I’ve listened deeply to them, I’ve listened into myself, now when do I get to talk?

I’ve written a couple of snazzy drafts of my answer and while I believe the things I wrote in them, the deepest truth is: I don’t know.

Seems to me there’s an individual equation we each must run in order to decide which problematic words and behaviors we address and on which we stay mum. Things I try to check in with in myself when I run those numbers are:

  • What is it that I’m actually hoping to communicate? Do I understand my own drivers as much as I can in this moment?
  • Am I open to true dialogue with them, approaching with humanity and not reactivity?
  • Given that challenging conversations can be draining, is this a situation in which I’m willing to spend that energy?
  • And, a big one for me, will I be comfortable with myself if I don’t address this whatever-it-is, or will this missing conversation nag me as I try to fall asleep at night, running itself in multiple iterations of how it could have gone?

The answers will be different for everyone, different day by day, even. This is one of the many places where our practice in curiosity and checking in with ourselves becomes mighty handy.

As you do the math in your own equations, factor in this final bit:

A focus on the outcome (i.e. changing another person’s mind) is a fool’s errand. Making clear, direct, thoughtful communication your measure of success is living into your biggest, baddest self and, coincidentally, the best route any of us have for offering another a new idea in a relatable way.

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