My College Summit
It has been an emotional few weeks for us all. Tensions were high earlier this month as we all waited on baited breath for election results while also facing serious pandemic fatigue. We watched people tear each other apart on social media platforms and we struggled in our own conversations.
Most of us got into this field because we care, because we have the gift of empathy. We care about students, we care about people and we want to make an impact. Sometimes making an impact looks like creating initiatives and programs, making big speeches, or planning an event. But the majority of time, the most powerful impact comes from a single conversation. The one about race. The one about inclusivity. The one with your boss or co-worker whose beliefs are entirely different than yours. I believe conversations like these are what can change the world. Not arguments, conversations.
Lately, it seems hard to have a conversation about anything without somebody getting upset, defensive or angry. It is a really tricky and sensitive thing, I know. But If we truly want change in our organizations, in our relationships, in our families, we must learn to not call people out, but call them IN.
When we feel strongly about something, convicted, passionate or certain – but another person either doesn’t want to “go there” or has a different opinion, for whatever reason our first human instinct is to either get quiet and not say anything or call the person OUT. We change our tone, we get aggressive. And we get nowhere.
When instead we should ask questions. We should learn their story and LISTEN. Yes, even when their train of thought is opposite of yours. Even when you feel so convicted in your BONES that your way is the right way. They feel that way too.
I know this is hard. But we know how to do it. It is how we push for programs we think should exist, it is how we advocate for our students we care so deeply about. We talk about things with heart, with respect and try to help others understand. But If we want to feel seen, we have to see others too.
I challenge you to think about this the next time you are having a hard conversation, remember that the other person is human, no matter what they believe. Ask questions. Seek to understand. Seek common ground. This is the kind of thing that can change hearts, I have seen it happen.