Tag Archives: Conversation

Self-Care for Facilitating Conversations about RacismJuly 13, 2018

I began my self-care coaching business as way to teach others about the self-care habits that sustained me through the toughest moments of my life. My first few sessions went peacefully, but as I gained more facilitation skills through Ten Directions’ Integral Facilitation certification, I noticed a few small interpersonal conflicts arising within the members of my community. Perhaps they hadn’t been there before, or maybe I could only bring myself to pay attention when I was actually capable of dealing with them. As I worked with the discomfort that arose from each one, I saw we were all growing – the clients I worked with, me as a leader, and our community as a whole. (more…)

Read more

#MeToo: On Perspectives, Listening, and Risk TakingJanuary 10, 2018

I was in a meeting recently discussing the take down of Harvey Weinstein and others accused of sexual harassment, and the rise of the #metoo campaign. We were freely exchanging opinions about these trends in culture, except for several men who declined to add to the conversation. When I asked them about their thoughts on the matter, and they replied that there wasn’t anything they were willing to add; because, they said, the truth was that they were only allowed to agree with the perspectives already in the room. As much I as prodded to elicit other points of view, they remained firm. They weren’t angry, resentful, or upset about it. They were just unwilling to risk a damn word.

(more…)

Read more

The Truth of Trump—Every Perspective is True and PartialMarch 29, 2016

It is quite an election year. We’ve got a belligerent capitalist, a pervy tea party candidate, an insipid moderate, a self-serving woman, and a raving socialist. The polarities are so extreme that violence is bursting out at the seams at Trump’s rallies, and the Bernie people treat Hillary supporters like traitors to the cause. It’s kinda crazy out there.

And yet, it is the most energized election we have seen since 1968. And it is a prime opportunity to use the Integral practice to capture some of the energy, and open awareness to deeper parts of ourselves. How are we supposed to make sense of all this? It’s one thing to be a television announcer and just pose questions, but it’s another thing to try and find a path through the mess—let alone to actually weave genuine conversation or generate some understanding so that you can vote with integrity.

(more…)

Read more

Talking about race in the wake of tragedyJune 26, 2015

How do we open up a conversation about race in the wake of tragedy like the one that took place in Charleston, South Carolina?

Every painful conversation is unique, and every context may require a different approach from the facilitator. Whether you’re holding a town meeting or community dialogue or an informal conversation around the dinner table, in my experience, the best place to begin any truly challenging discussion is with our immediate, felt experience. In our conversations about race this last week, I would begin with the emotional impact of the news of the shooting in South Carolina.

I would pose a simple question like, “How is everyone feeling right now?” and then allow perspectives to pour forth. The expression that I would first want to support is an emotional one, that of pain and loss in the room—the pain of the murder of innocent people and the loss of the nine beautiful souls who died at the Emmanuel A.M.E. Church.

It may seem obvious, but people will often rush over emotions to problem solving or political strategizing or discussing facts—but it isn’t satisfying. Presencing the sorrow and grief is fundamental to our human experience and it is unifying to a group. It binds us in the heart, reminding us of the vulnerability we share and of our capacity to care. Sorrow is softening, humanizing, and humbling. So we need to open space for the pain to pour forward, and for the emotions of grief, of loss, of sadness to actually come into the room.

The gut wrenching pain of the murder of innocent people is conveyed by sorrow, grief and loss. The gut wrenching pain of the murder of innocent BLACK people AGAIN comes in a wave of anger, torment, and outrage.

(more…)

Read more

The Integral Facilitator’s Nightmare (oops) ChallengeOctober 17, 2014

I took an interest in the clip that was all over the internet last week of an episode of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, the comedian-talk-show-host exchanging with Sam Harris, the atheist-turned-mindfulness author, and Ben Affleck, the actor. If you haven’t already seen it, here’s a link to view the clip of their heated discussion.

Bill Maher begins the discussion by asserting that both he and Sam Harris have been trying to make the case that “liberals need to stand up for liberal principles” like freedom of thought and speech, religious freedom, freedom to leave a religion, and equality for women, minorities, and homosexuals, but says you can’t say those things about Muslims.

Sam Harris responds by asserting that, as he said, “Liberals have failed when it comes to theocracy, and have been sold this meme of ‘Islamaphobia’,” which is the problem of conflating criticism of Islamic doctrine and with bigotry towards Muslims as people.

(more…)

Read more

Talking About Events in Ferguson? Some Useful DistinctionsAugust 25, 2014

There are all kinds of conversations going on right now about the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, another young African-American male in Ferguson, Missouri last week. Most of us are quite familiar with the story by now, and are outraged by another incident in the U.S. involving the use of lethal force by law enforcement against unarmed teenagers, particularly those who are black. And if we aren’t outraged, I think that we should be.

These conversations are more difficult to navigate when certain important distinctions are not made clearly. We can see this problem in the news media in which the third person reporting of relevant facts to the public immediately becomes conflated with the social and political views of the news station and host.

(more…)

Read more