Sunday, August 30, 2009

My Motivation

After writing Compassion and Grace, I shared some of my thoughts on the subject with Donald. He asked me some delving questions and I feel like I need to explore my own motivations a little more.

I have written about my own struggles with conflict and making assumptions and striving to be a better person. I have also written about my desire to help other people handle conflict more appropriately. It is in the context of helping others that I am concerned about my motivations for wanting to do so.

It would be incredibly presumptuous and arrogant of me (1) to assume that anyone else wants my help, and (2) to believe that I know any better than anyone else. I should not be motivated to have fierce (or any other kind of) conversations in order to prove that I am right. If I approach someone, even with a well-crafted question, with obstinate disagreement as my motive, I will not create an environment in which any positive change will take place. I must not approach a conversation with the motive to change someone else. I must engage in conversation instead with the willingness to change myself.

I think one reason many of the difficult conversations outlined in Susan Scott's book are so successful is that the people being challenged by Susan's questions invited her to help them. They asked for her help.

I also think that I have missed an important lesson in the book. In order for me to engage in a fierce conversation, I must "come out from behind" myself. The point is not to force someone else to do this, it is for ME to do this. The conversation may also bring someone else out from behind themselves, but the point is that I change what I do, not what someone else does.

So if I come out from behind myself, how do I encourage a fierce conversation when I disagree with the other person? How do I express my dissent without shutting down the conversation or making someone else feel that I disapprove of them? I need to know more about what coming out from behind myself really means. I also need to practice asking questions that lead both of us to a better understanding of each other. The final result of the conversation should not be anticipated; the conversation should not be directed in any particular direction. It must evolve as the participants develop their relationship.

After all, "The conversation is the relationship."

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