Archive for the ‘Dialogue’ Tag

Conversation Catalyst   1 comment

Surface waves

Surface waves (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last night and this morning I was reminded of the value associated with conversation and dialogue.  I was one of thousands watching the live production of the Sound of Music last night on television.  While I was watching the production, I posted on my Facebook page that I was struggling with this production of a classic.  I indicated that in my opinion, this could not replace the movie version which I have watched at least annually since I can remember watching television.  That post ignited a stream of comments from friends throughout the rest of the night and even this morning.  There were those who expressed their struggles and dislikes.  There were also those that spoke in support of the production and raised reminders of the unfairness to compare these very different productions.  As I stepped back from the various opinions, I became aware of the great value of this dialogue.  What emerged was an opportunity to express opinions, share memories, express feelings, educate, and most importantly, engage with one another.

This led me this morning to ponder how one little post on a Facebook page could ignite a beneficial conversation.  As a leader, I have come to realize the role that leaders play in beginning conversations.  In fact, I believe that this is one of the top five responsibilities in being a leader.  There definitely is a risk involved because if you open a conversation, you have no idea where for sure that conversation may head.  However, there is a lot that can be discovered and growth can take place if a dialogue is established.

Another realization that I had is that you do not always know what might spark a conversation.  I would have to be honest that I did not anticipate that my post last night would create the conversation that has occurred since I did the posting.  The catalyst can be something very small and spontaneous in nature or it can be something planned to initiate dialogue around a subject, challenge, or event.  It can be somewhat liking casting a stone in the water which create circles of discussion.  Sometimes you may need to cast multiple stones and at other times it will take only one.  The caution is to avoid throwing in boulders.

The final observation that I had this morning is that there is a role the leader must play after creating a catalyst for conversation.  The role would be one of moderator.  It will be important for the leader to make sure that the dialogue that occurs after the conversation ignites is one of a positive nature and not one that tears individuals or the group down.  A positive conversation is not void of critical observations.  However, the leader needs to strive to create an environment where the dialogue will not be derogatory toward a person or the person’s ideas/thoughts.

Who would have thought that the Sound of Music could lead me to think about such matters?



It’s In the Dialogue   1 comment

Cover of "The Answers"

Cover of The Answers

Somehow in the Western culture we have placed a high emphasis on coming up with the right answers.  I am not really sure how or when this began but we have become a people who only find achievement in obtaining the correct answer.  It doesn’t matter what the topic or the question, the goal is always the same.

Now there are benefits in seeking out the right answers in life.  I think that much of the success that the Western culture has achieved over the last century can be attributed to individuals and groups working to obtain the right answer.  This goal has allowed us to make great advances in medicine, technology, and business.  Without a goal, there is very little clarity in direction or motivation.

However, I find us often overlooking the even greater values of the journey.  There are many instances of people and teams who are striving to find a specific correct answer to a specific question and end up discovering a new concept, product or approach to a problem.  Many times these discoveries are achieved through the ongoing dialogue that take place between individuals.  Allowing different viewpoints and approaches to collide and to adapt to one another provides an opportunity for new realizations and concepts to come forward.  When a person is on a quest for an answer, it is easy to get tunnel vision.  The person can easily focus on a list of expectations and lose sight of other possibilities.  However, when a dialogue with another person or group of people takes place, the tunnel vision can be reduced and/or eliminated.

As a believer, I know that there are some answers that are not obtainable to me at this time.  But I am also very aware of the value in dialoguing with others and journeying together in the quest for an answer.  I know that this is how the Lord reveals new understandings and insights.  I know that the Lord expects this to happen in community and not isolation.

As a leader, I also know that I am much more successful when dialoguing through a situation with a team of individuals than I ever am trying to obtain the answers alone.  In the midst of discussion and debate, I experience different ways to address the situation and different understandings of the situation.

So I encourage everyone to treasure the dialogues, realize the goal is not always a correct answer, and grow in the process.

Outside the Walls   Leave a comment

St Ethelburga-the-Virgin within Bishopsgate In...

Today I was reminded how important it is for us to take our faith outside the walls of a church building.  Recently I have found myself engaged more and more in conversations that end up leading to faith discussions.  The really cool thing about these conversations is that they are not occurring within the walls of the church building but in various locations throughout the community.

For many years, Christians have been told that there are two topics that should never be discussed in public settings:  politics and religion.  I would question this statement and agree with one aspect of this statement.  First, I believe that it is vital for United States citizens to discuss politics in public settings.  One of the key components of democracy is for citizens to discuss what is occurring in government with one another.  This does not condone the personal attacks upon other’s viewpoints or the refusal to listen to a views that are different from our own.  However, public discourse is vital to our democratic approach to government.

The second topic is similar in some aspects.  I would agree that religion should rarely be discussed in a public forum.  The reason is that religion is just the practices and beliefs agreed upon by a group of people.  However, I believe that faith can be discussed in a public forum.  I would throw a word of caution in here to state that discussing faith should be done as part of a dialogue and not a monologue.  There needs to be mutual respect and a commitment to listen, again, even if the views of another are different from your own.  Through such dialogues, each person’s faith and understanding of beliefs grow.

More believers need to have more sincere discussions outside the walls of the church building.  I have been enriched in my conversations with others, especially when they have a different understanding of God.  I have had an opportunity to share my understandings as I listen to others.  I know that I have grown in my faith because of these dialogues.  If more believers were to respectfully engage in dialogue, I think we would see some profound movement in faith.

If you choose to take on this challenge, let me remind you:  DIALOGUE AND NOT MONOLOGUE.  I believe that the best way to follow this approach is to remember that I do not have all the answers, I am not always right, and I can learn as much as I may ever be able to teach.

Disconnected   Leave a comment

In the days when everyone had land lines for phones, you would occasionally run into situations where a phone was disconnected.  Remember the message that you would get?  “This number is disconnected or no longer in service.  If you feel you have reached this message in error, please hang up, check the number, and dial again.”  Today with many people using cell phones, we run into the issue of “dropped calls.”  This seems to occur when you hit one of those cellular signal dead zones.

These things are on my mind because I have been thinking about what happens when for whatever reason, the conversation ends.  I feel that when individuals consciously or unconsciously stop communicating, there is a strong possibility that the relationship is doomed.  This can happen for a variety of reasons and in all types of relationships.  As I have observed individuals and groups, I find this to be a fact that plays out itself over and over.  Even when the dialogue becomes heated and disagreement is clear, if the dialogue continues, the relationship(s) continue(s).

For me, this reminds me of the importance to keep the dialogue open.  It also reminds me of the importance of learning how to keep a conversation going even when there is strong disagreement between the parties involved.

As I watch many situations in my profession, in the community in which I live, in our nation, I am reminded of the great importance to promote civil discourse.  It is becoming vital that voices speak out and that we raise the expectation of encouraging individuals to remain in conversation with one another.

This is also true in my faith life.  I have to remain in conversation with the Lord on a daily basis if I am going to expect my relationship with the Lord to continue to thrive.  I have to remain in conversation with fellow believers since in those conversations I am challenged and encouraged.  If I truly believe that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord, my God, and the second greatest is to love my neighbor as myself, then I must be committed to maintaining relationships with my Lord and my fellow believers.  If I am committed to maintaining those relationships, then I must be committed to remaining in dialogue with them.

When communication ends, relationships end.