A Conversation Manifesto
I believe in the power of conversation.
I believe that when two or more people gather together to talk about what really matters to them, the most amazing things can happen.
I believe that revolutions begin with conversations around a kitchen table or in a living room or on lunch hour or at a coffee shop. Big change comes when we are willing to engage with the important questions.
I believe that as human beings, we are built for conversation. It is how we learn as babies. Our first societies were formed through conversations around a fire. Our greatest institutions began as conversations about what could be.
But, I believe we've lost faith in the power of what conversation can do for us. We've lost sight of how our conversations can shape who we want to be and what we create in the world.
I believe that the solutions to our problems, the inspiration we need to build the institutions relationships and communities that are important to us, lie in our ability to engage in conversations that matter. Conversations about what's important to us will nurture us and help us grow individually and together.
To this end, we need to re-claim our human legacy, our ability to engage with each other around our desires and passions and our vision of what could be.
We need to make time for important talks, to make space in our lives for real conversation about our most pressing questions.
We need to grow and encourage meaningful discussions where ever they crop up. They are happening. We need to join and support them and spread the word to others so they can join too.
We need to provide safe space for ourselves and for the people around us to talk about the things that are most important to us. We need to be willing to make ourselves vulnerable and to help others be vulnerable too.
We need to ask more questions and listen more deeply. We need to seek first to understand, rather than to be understood.
We need to be the sparks for challenging, inspiring, engaging talk, willing to ask the hard and important questions and to provide honest and authentic answers.
We need to be comfortable with the messy, wonderful process of truly engaging with each other around what is important to us.
We need to use conversation for good, not for evil. We need to stop conversations that divide us--from each other and from our humanity.
We need to use conversations to re-discover our common vision and re-define the Common Good. We need to use them to find our gifts and to bring them into the world.
We need to use conversation to rebuild our connection to ourselves, our relationships with family and friends and our larger communities.
Conversation is our human birth-right. It is what defines us and shapes us as humans. "Words create worlds" and we need to use our conversations to build a better place for us to live.
Michele, Thanks for the post and the challenge. I am particularly interested in how we all can return to the ritual of table ~ where good food, great company and important conversations bring us together.
As we take time to listen, spark, engage let us also take time around table to share the abundance we have.
Posted by: Bob McInnis | January 13, 2012 at 12:14 PM
Great suggestion, Bob! I was talking with someone in France earlier this week and we were discussing the cultural ritual of food that is more prevalent in other countries than the US. I think you're right that great food adds to the ambience of great company and great conversation, but it's something that Americans often don't make the time and space for. We definitely need to add that to the list!
Posted by: Michele | January 13, 2012 at 12:21 PM
I loved your Manifesto... So I translated to brazilian portuguese with credits, of course. (http://psfl.in/5t)
Posted by: Sérgio F. Lima | January 14, 2012 at 07:13 AM
I love that you translated it, Sergio! I'd love it translated into as many languages as possible so we could have as many conversations going on around the world as we could! :-)
Posted by: Michele | January 14, 2012 at 07:52 AM
Another wonderful post. You have captured the imagination, miracle and alchemy of conversation. I truly believe that it is conversation, that will transform our world.
We have to reclaim the time and space to create and support conversation. Viewed as a waste of time in most workplaces, it is precisely the richness and potential of conversation that will bring deeper meaning to work.
And most important as you say, "We need to use conversations to re-discover our common vision and re-define the Common Good. We need to use them to find our gifts and to bring them into the world."
Posted by: Louise at The Intentional Workplace | January 16, 2012 at 02:14 PM
Thank you, Louise! "Conversations that Matter" has become my phrase of 2012 and I'm really looking at how I can hone my skills and take the risks that we need to take to get there. Just publishing this Manifesto was, for me, a way to start a risky conversation, saying "this is what I believe in--let's talk."
I love that you try to have these same kind of conversations on your blog--so much to talk about! :-)
Posted by: Michele | January 16, 2012 at 02:47 PM
As always, your post makes me pause and reflect, think about what I am investing my time in and its worth. This time, I was also reminded of this quote by Humberto Maturana: We learn, adapt, and bring forth our worlds through the networks of conversation in which we participate.
Posted by: Account Deleted | January 19, 2012 at 03:42 AM
Thanks, Sahana--I love that quote. Thanks for sharing it!
Posted by: Michele | January 19, 2012 at 02:18 PM