I’m very hesitant to reshare this because of how destructive these kinds of words are and the implicit meanings expressed int he statement “look like a Canadian.”

When I posted this, I got a response from my friend Christa. She said, “When we were in an airport somewhere in Europe after like a year or so away from Canada, I saw this man in a beautiful blue turban and my heart started to sing and say “A Canadian!”
True story.
Then I realized that was a bit silly — he could have been from anywhere. India, even. I wanted to go up to him and ask but I was too shy.”

With differences we can choose to create divides, or we can see differences as stars at that make up a “gorgeous constellation of the world.” Historically, we’ve chosen to create divides and we’ve had world wars, famines, and now mass extinction and climate crisis. Why don’t we try embracing differences and illuminating the gifts they bring and see if it works? đŸ™‚

My sense is that we need to shift every day conversations and narratives so that there are fewer of these confrontational and highlighting difference conversations like the one above. This is an extreme example for sure, but almost every day I see people give advice and tell people what to do in situations where they are not asked for their opinions or advice. For example, like conversations where someone says something they aren’t sure about something and the response is to judge, make compliments, advice, or try to fix them. Unless someone explicitly asks for advice, is it really ok to impose our thinking or tell them what to do? I’m certainly guilty of this as I’ve done consulting in different forms. What if we tried the opposite of giving advice, and instead we ask generative questions more often? How different could the world be?

Here’s a some principles I’ve found useful for listening and having better conversations. These principles are specifically have better conversations where there is obvious differences or created and perceived divides. I’ve found they help any conversation flow better, go deeper, work to build rapport, feel more meaningful and connective. These principles of practices come from the Re-Authoring Narratives practice and are called “Redignifying Principles.” The principles are are anti-colonial ways of being in conversation and go against our automatic judgement and survival instinct narratives, which doesn’t make them easy.

Here are some examples of things you can say to have better conversations:

  • Tell me more/say more….[whatever they are talking about]
  • What brought you here today…?
  • What struck you about…?
  • What excited you about…?
  • What was the highlight of this moment/day….?
  • Thank you for sharing this, I feel….
  • Thanks for sharing this, it took me to…

These principles come from this article on “Re-Authoring the World: Unfolding Ideas and Practices by, a dear new friend and co-learner, Dr ChenĂ© Swart at http://www.transformations.co.za/

Will you try principles in your next conversation and let me know how it goes? If yes, please the comment section below or via email! I’d love to hear how it goes.