Difference and Disagreement
I am delighted to announce that my book is finally underway. “My book”, the first one of maybe more, I hope, has been announced on more than one occasion. This time, I am confident enough that an unwieldy, octopus-like first draft, will be achieved by the end of October. Whatever happens thereafter remains to be known.
As a result of a recent thinking session, the blindingly obvious step of diarizing my writing practice finally landed, and since then I’ve been writing – more or less – 1500 words a day. I have decided that even if it is only for me, it is worth it, and I am enjoying it.
This week I’ve been writing about the third “building block’ of the four processes we use interchangeably when facilitating thinking environments. The third building block is Dialogue in a Thinking Environment.
At the same time, recently, I’ve had the pleasure of beginning a dialogue with a student and colleague about the impact of the question “what do you want to think about, and what are your thoughts?”, when asked by someone who knows you to have identity labels, but does not see you as your identity labels.
To really think for ourselves requires this act of liberation, I think. To want to know, for ourselves, who am I free of my labels? It is a dizzying prospect, a distinction that is hard to imagine, but one worth exploring I believe.
And I have had an interesting personal experience this week, where I woke up to a realization, as a result of a difficult conversation with a friend, that when one of the identities with which we are enmeshed feels diminished or minimized by another’s words or deeds, it can become very difficult to engage in dialogue, and to remain interested in what the other has to say.
The tapestry woven from all these threads has given me an idea, a kind of “how to” manage the shift from dialogue to disagreement in a way that might enable us to get back to being able to be interested, and to genuinely want to know what the other person thinks.
A discussion between two people that is an experience of being in a thinking environment has got to be, to my mind, one of life’s singular pleasures. It is the beautiful expression of what happens when two people decide to find out what the weaving together of their two minds will produce on a subject of mutual interest to them, very possibly with an outcome in mind, and kick-started by a question they have both agreed will lead them in the desired direction for the discussion.
If they share an understanding of the agreement to listen without interruption, to be equal in taking turns and a genuine desire to know as much what the other thinks as to express their own views and ideas, two people can, in this way, discover the magic and intimacy of conversation. They will find the joy of being able to see things differently, together, towards mutual understanding of something, and, if desired, a way forward.
By realising that something new could become possible if I could stay, rather than leave, I took a big breath in the difficult conversation with my friend and decided to stay. I shared how her attempt to find solutions and fix things ended up feeling like an invalidation of my experience, and it made me stop talking to her about things that matter most.
A deeply held identity on my part, Mother, felt undermined and invalidated every time I felt she was trying to get me to see it from another (her) point of view.
It is a mark of how dear and good a friend she is that she was able to hear this view of mine and make space for it. That generosity was just what we needed to be able to shift the balance back to hearing one another again. We are able to talk more freely now.
Now, as a result, I am asking myself the question, “who would I be without that identity?” and the question is raising the sense that maybe I would be able to hear other’s perspectives without mine needing to feel threatened or nullified. Just another perspective, something to think about and consider, not to reject it out of hand just because it sounds as though it disagrees with mine.
I wonder what you think, dear Brave Heart?