How to speak persuasively, not abrasively. This is another challenging chapter, partly because I am so passionate about various issues but haven’t learned how to engage in safe dialog with others. The authors encourage passion but within certain boundaries. My takeaway message from chapter six is to encourage others to share their opinions; the more vigorously I share mine, the more vigorously I should ask others to share. This is pretty much the opposite of my typical approach to many collegial conversations about kids. I assume I know it all. I assume my opinions will not change. I assume no one has a better grasp of the situation. I think I have “gotten away” with this unproductive stance because I usually have allies with the same position. And of course, I am not crusading 24/7. But I remember many meetings where I have been convinced that my opinion was TRUTH and wasn’t open to other viewpoints.
The strategies outlined in this chapter are simple yet profound. The authors suggest that I spend time preparing my thoughts before engaging in a crucial conversation. They use a Goldilocks analogy: my views shouldn’t be too hard or too soft. I especially appreciate the section entitled “How Do We Change?” Their answer? Back off. Tone down. That makes sense because I don’t like being clobbered by others, either. Their advice has cycled back to an earlier point: look out for those crucial conversations when people (including myself) aren’t safe.
I will need to practice these skills, but at least I am looking in the right direction.
What about you? Are you persuasive or abrasive?