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Connected Conversations: Seek to Understand, then be Understood.
I recently came across a really interesting article about politics and how to interact with “the other side.” The very phrase “the other side”, was what particularly grabbed my attention. No matter which side one might agree with, I believe we all need to use “connection-speech” to help us live peaceful, coexistent lives. I usually describe it as creating “a connected experience”, one where we are both experiencing the conversation fully and connecting with one another intentionally.
This concept shows up in the workplace a lot too. You might hear it in the form of phrases like”they don’t get it” or “we are the ones who have to deal with customers, they (referring to leadership) don’t understand what we go through”. It is this “us vs them” mindset that truly erodes trust levels and the overall effectiveness of a team, the same way it erodes healthy debate on the political stage.
This is when I introduce the idea of creating a connected experience. The goal is to respect, honor, and understand the other person. Seeking first to understand the other person fully before trying to be understood ourselves. This is a timeless communication fundamental that often goes overlooked.
I know plenty of relationships which have ended because both parties wanted to be right and didn’t care what happened to their relationship. They would fight fire with fire. We all know the quote
“Being right isn’t nearly as important as knowing when to shut up.” – Unknown.
Or another famous question I use in my household, “do you want to be right or do you want get results?”
If we chose to approach all conversations by giving the “other side” the benefit of a charitable assumption, (meaning assume the other person intends the best), where would we be as a society? As an organization?
There are two simple steps to bring a connected experience practice to life.
Decide this is how you will approach others, in all situations. Once you’ve decided, the next step becomes a lot easier.
Have a healthy curiosity. Some examples of how this might sound;
“Interesting, tell me more about that.” “Wow, that sounds challenging, tell me more about how that is impacting you.” “Isn’t that interesting, tell me more.”
Bring a charitable assumption to every conversation and try to create a connected experience with everyone you come in contact with. Either way, once you master these skills, your life will be infinitely less dramatic and help you keep your stress and anxiety down. I know my life has gotten incredibly simpler since I started applying these principles.