do you really value all people?

No doubt navigating through current cultural conversations is often like tiptoeing through terrains liberally laced with landmines. Use the word “Trump” at any time, and chances are ears will perk up and emotions will be immediately heightened.

Bring up McConnell, Pelosi, and/or Schumer; the odds of respectful dialogue will most likely go downhill quickly. It gets worse; watch for the utilization of words such as “bigot,” “extremist,” or “Socialist.” Maybe even “Hitler.” There has to be a reason the other person is entirely wrong.

Yes, current cultural conversations are really, really difficult. But if we are going to truly value all people — which people on both the left and right say they want to do or claim to do — then that means we have to quit dismissing another as entirely wrong. When we dismiss another as entirely wrong, we are not valuing all people.

Hence, conversation is vital… even when it’s hard.

Let’s return once more to the wise words of Stephen Covey. How can we utilize his seven proclaimed habits in order to have more effective, respectful conversation? And yes… even when it’s hard.

[Utilizing the quoted insights here of Dr. Tammy Lenski, who teaches individuals and groups how to untangle disagreements and build dynamic partnerships by engaging conflict effectively. Note her written words are italicized below. All emphasis is mine.]

Habit 1: Be Proactive

… In conflict, too many people mistakenly assume that they have no real hope of changing the relationship they have with the other person… When you make that assumption, you postpone or avoid the important conversation that could change matters. When you act proactively in a conflict situation, you step up to the difficult conversation rather than avoiding it. Avoidance of important conversation usually allows frustration to fester and the divide to widen…

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind

… In difficult conversations, you want to have a “big picture” image of success before you start the conversation. It’s worth advance thought before simply plunging in. The end you want to visualize shouldn’t be one in which the other person “sees the light,” changes their opinion, or does things your way. Worthwhile ends include preserving the relationship, minimizing the debris of ongoing conflict…

Habit 3: Put First Things First

Putting first things first means attending to your priorities before you attend to lesser matters. In difficult conversations, you want to focus on the most important topics and avoid getting side-tracked by less important matters, pet peeves, and minor annoyances…

Habit 4: Think Win/Win

This is basic conflict management 101. If you enter your most important conversations with the intent to win at the other person’s expense, then you risk prolonged and entrenched conflict and greater harm to the relationship. The win/win approach invites you to consider the conversation as a joint exploration into what could work for both of you. While this kind of conversation takes longer to accomplish, you’ll usually save emotional energy and time in the long run.

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood  {Yeah, we aren’t too collectively good at this…}

In difficult conversations, you may be tempted to spend your energy telling. Telling the other person what they did wrong, what the impact was on you, what you’d like them to do differently. While some of this may be important for them to hear in order to understand the impact of the situation on you, it is a mistake to begin there. And it’s a costly mistake if both of you try to begin there, since the resulting “telling tug of war” will make the conversation messier than it need be. Instead, try entering your difficult conversations with genuine curiosity.Make it your first priority to understand the other person’s perspective, even if you don’t agree to it. Real attention to understanding is likely to yield new information that can help you resolve the problem.

Habit 6: Synergize

Synergy is the interaction of individuals for greater combined effect than any one person would have on their own. Truly effective conflict management is all about synergy. Different values, opinions, and perspectives, when viewed as opportunity instead of a problem, allow families and organizations to build on their joint strengths and minimize the individual weaknesses…

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

… Sharpening the saw is the act of self-renewal, learning, and personal growth. In dialogue terms, sharpening the saw means practicing your habits in low-stakes situations so that they’re more accessible to you when you need them most. It means learning how to manage yourself well in difficult moments… When you stretch yourself and practice when the stakes are low, you help your mind respond better in those trying moments.

Do we really value all people? 

My sense is how we converse will give some indication.



Note: Please see Dr. Lenski’s full comments at . Many thanks to you, Dr. Lenski, for your wisdom and insight!