NYTImes opinion columnist David Brooks writes about the art of connecting, even in time of dislocation. His list of “non-obvious lessons for how to have better conversation, which I’ve learned from people wiser than myself,” are applicable to non-Covid times as well.
In her recent NYTimes article (What if Instead of Calling People Out, We Called Them In?, 11.18.20), journalist Jessica Bennett introduces us to Professor Loretta Ross, who is combating “cancel culture” with a popular class at Smith College.
Ross, an activist of more than 40 years, helped organized a delegation of women of color at the March for Women’s Lives in 1989.
Celeste Headlee, who has worked as an NPR and Public Radio host for decades, knows the ingredients of a great conversation: honesty, brevity, clarity and a healthy amount of listening. Author of We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations That Matter (2017), Headlee notes that most of us don’t listen with the intent to understand, but rather to reply — a dynamic that is clearly evident in many dysfunctional relationships.
In Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When the Stakes are High (2013), authors Patterson, Grenny, McMillan & Switzler observe how easily our eons-old defense mechanisms kick in, when we match an inappropriate or sharp comment, accusation or unkind shot with our own hasty, ugly reaction. With absolutely no clue as to what is going on in our partner’s head, the opportunity for understanding and connection is missed.
When all is said and done, we earn our teenagers’ trust by showing them we trust them, by being respectful, and by sharing power. Adolescents (and all children for that matter) who feel their parents are really interested in their world, feelings and experiences, are more likely to be open to learning from them.