This morning I woke up abruptly at 6am. Nothing in particular happened. I was half-awake and somehow Brene Brown’s words from one of her podcast episodes jumped into my head:
“I’m here to get it right, not be right”.
I thought of the power of those words and how, since hearing them, I’m continually reminded of this concept when I let my ego lead and get into a debate or an argument. Even sharing what I think about something is a connection indicator for me.
When I become aware of it, I check in with myself, and ask: Am I connecting with this person, or am I trying to “be right?” Did the people I’m conversing with ask for my opinion, advice, feedback, assumptions, conclusions, judgement or help?
My partner Anne Stieger’s words begin to run through my mind: “radical empathy, radical empathy, radical empathy!”
While I am participating in connection with others, am I really listening and practicing radical empathy?
What popped into my head and heart next was a moment from earlier this week in the Re-Energize session I co-hosted with Amanda Bostlund. I was sitting in a breakout room and another tender guy friend and I were sitting with a younger woman, and holding space for her. She was sharing her experiences over the last year, which she referred to as “tough”, and was trying to find a crack of light/moment that moved her that she wanted more of.
Out of respect for her privacy, it’s not my place to give details, but as she shared her moment and we gently asked her curious and open questions we didn’t know the answer to, we all began to cry a little.
I was struck by this as it was the first time in my experience where everyone teared up in one of the sessions I’ve co-hosted. She felt safe enough to cry with two men she had met only 5 minutes before in a breakout group on Zoom. It took me back to many moments in the last 2 years since learning about the Re-Authoring Narratives Practice – in particular the Re-dignifying Practice – and moment sharing process.
I regularly become aware of how often I’m transformed, inspired, or moved when I practice this in everyday conversations as well as in my hosting work. What the shift for me has been is that “getting it right” is about being in the right relationship or deeply connected to whoever I’m in conversation with. It’s these practices that have helped me get it right and focus less on “being right.”
These practices simply focus on 4 things:
- Ask curious questions you don’t know the answer to/be care-fully curious. Or as Peter Block says in the Structure of Belonging, “Don’t be helpful, be curious!” (use the words of the person you are talking to, don’t reframe or change the words)
- Be open to be surprised and transformed by what emerges
- Regard others as the primary authors of their own stories
- Give “offerings of your moved heart” : Express how you’ve been touched or moved by what they’ve said or how you’re feeling.
These 4 practices, in combination with the avoids in the Re-Dignifying practice and re-authoring lenses, have given me the tools to support someone who is going through a “tough time,” to change a conversation from judgement/concluding space to curiosity, deep connection, and story space, to hear judgment, but not reinforce judgement, and to avoid reinforcing other colonial conversational patterns. (fixing, advice, feedback, assuming, etc.).
More than anything else, I try to remember these two things:
- Ask curious questions you don’t know the answer to/be care-fully curious. Don’t be helpful, be curious!
- Brene Brown’s words, “ I’m here to get it right, not be right”
What has bubbled up for you while reading this? I would love to hear from you!