The definitive guide to learning effective skills for engaging in open and honest conversations about divisive issues from three professional mediators.
When a conversation takes a turn into the sometimes uncomfortable and often contentious topics of race, religion, gender, sexuality, and politics, it can be difficult to know what to say or how to respond to someone you disagree with. Compassionate Conversations empowers us to transform these conversations into opportunities to bridge divides and mend relationships by providing the basic set of conflict resolution skills we need to be successful, including listening, reframing, and dealing with strong emotions. Addressing the long history of injury and pain for marginalized groups, the authors explore topics like social privilege, power dynamics, and, political correctness allowing us to be more mindful in our conversations. Each chapter contains practices and reflection questions to help readers feel more prepared to talk through polarizing issues, ultimately encouraging us to take risks, to understand and recognize our deep commonalities, to be willing to make mistakes, and to become more intimate with expressing our truths, as well as listening to those of others.
Zen meditation teacher Hamilton, leadership coach Wilson, and Loh, a peace specialist working with the United Nations, expound on ways to have simple and effective conversations in this instructive work. The authors describe a number of methods to improve communication skills using steps based on speech, culture, and identity. Readers are encouraged to listen to different perspectives, let go of their own viewpoints, and maintain a clear understanding of their desires and goals within every conversation. This can be difficult to achieve, the authors admit, but they argue it is very important to individual and societal well-being. The book's most urgent sections show how good communication can facilitate conflict resolution that can arise from a number of debates, including those surrounding political correctness and identity politics. Six essentials for good conversation ("be for each other," listen well, talk straight, give support and challenge, use praise, keep agreements) provide a road map for success, while questions and exercises at the end of each chapter offer an additional resource. Any reader will gain insight from this helpful guide to communication and conflict resolution.