Yesterday I had a five hour conversation with two people I barely knew and what we created was phenomenal. So much so that we have committed to invest a similar amount of time in each other’s company for the next two months. This article provides tips on how to create something like this for yourself by unpacking some of the conscious design and process we used. Our experiment shows that deep connection is possible amongst virtual strangers and why courageous conversations like these are the way forward in business and in life.
Wherever we are at in life, whoever we are, there is one thing that connects us all, above all others, and that is our longing for deep connection. What do I mean by that? If we break it down what we all want is to be seen, heard, accepted and understood. It sounds easy when it is put like that and yet most people find it very difficult to do because of emotional conditioning going back years. In short we have all been hurt and so it is easy for others to find those wounds and press them, often unintentionally. This can lead to a reaction which can have all sorts of often adverse ramifications on the conversation you are having. Therefore one of the first conscious acts is to be mindful about your feelings and needs as you enter a conversation so that you are more likely to respond rather than react to what shows up. For this you need a huge amount of self compassion as well as compassion for others.
So how do you get to a place where you can have
earth shaking conversation with hearts wide open and vulnerability on show?
And why would you want to? The reason to do it is that it can be “life changing.” These are direct quotations from Tilla Brook one of the participants in the conversation I had yesterday. Over 24 hours later we are still buzzing from the experience because what we created was a space where we could all be in our power, which was awesome, as we realised how much was possible from that place.
That was not easy. There were moments when the other two wanted to run. At one point I felt unheard and slightly exasperated and started to withdraw from the conversation. These conversations take courage and can be very edgy at times which is why it is vital to build in safety at the beginning. You can do that by being very clear on your intention for having the conversation and there are processes that you can introduce to help the conversation flow. I am learning about the Art of the Convening at the moment and there is some real magic in it. For example at the start of a conversation, it is important to ensure that everyone is heard; that people introduce themselves and share a piece of information about themselves. The key here is in formulating an incisive question. If you take a look at the video clip below, you will notice that connection came when the two strangers found something in common. It opened the door to a much richer, deeper conversation. What also facilitated the process were the well-worded questions that the pairs found in the ball pit. In other words powerful questions are an essential element of real conversations.
Going back to the conversation I had yesterday, I owned my feelings of wanting to withdraw and shared the impact that various comments had had on me. Being so open enabled me to re-engage for the sake of the bigger game. And that brings me to my next point; these conversations are not a luxury that get in the way of your day-to-day work. They actually make your soul sing and give you the creativity you need to be successful in all that you do. They re-energise you because you can experience what it is like to be in your full power and claim it. I acknowledged that I have a real laser-like directness, which cuts through stuff like sloppy thinking and reveals the prisons you put yourself in. Today I used that same quality to voice some issues around a collaborative piece I am involved in and share some hard messages in service of the bigger picture so that the whole group could move forward out of a stuck place. This was only possible because I had seen how that quality was a gift. Also recognising that it can lead to misunderstandings at times, I realised it was important to pre-frame my comments so that my colleagues were clear about my intention.
Why is crystal clear communication so important right now? For me it is vital because we are in a place of transition. We are moving from a post industrial society to a life sustaining one. As that gathers pace, more and more people are realising that the old ways of doing business are no longer waiting. It means we need new values and to start placing value on currencies other than money. People are one of the main forms of currency in the new paradigm which is why it is essential that we know how to have real conversations. It is only then that we become alive to what is possible. Going back to my five hour conversation yesterday, we all gained so much from it. The connection is so strong that each of us wants to support the others to be in their power more fully. And yet it goes beyond that we are also looking at what we can create as a three that will help bring new paradigm businesses and new ways of working more fully into a greater number of people’s consciousness.
It is clear that we have far more impact when we collaborate and are part of a movement. At that point the size of our audience expands rapidly. Collaboration is only possible when we let go of scarcity – a mindset that many live in. We only realise that we live in abundance and that there is enough for everyone when we have tased connection. I led a conversation amongst a group of business owners on Monday and their main feedback was how refreshing they found it when no one judged them when they shared their stories and how appreciative they were for my facilitation which meant that no one felt in competition with anyone else. Everyone shared ideas freely and gained so much for their own business from the process.
If your business or organisation is stuck then do get in touch as there are many ways that we can help you move forward using real conversation to build connection at board level, with your audience and your business.
Kate Griffiths is a qualified coach, speaker, community leader and writer, who is fascinated by the power of conversation. She teaches business owners, leaders and teams how to communicate effectively to build stronger relationships and thereby improve the possibilities for innovation and collaboration.
Kate is also the Community Relations Director of the 7 Graces Project, a thriving community and social enterprise. The aim of the 7 Graces Project will be to provide an educational alternative and business incubator for a new generation of ethical, community-focused businesses.