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If there's one thing we could all be doing to make the world a better place, it would be to become better listeners. That's why I'm so interested in the work of listening guru Kay Lindahl. Kay is the founder of The Listening Center in Long Beach, CA, and conducts workshops and retreats around the world on the sacred art of listening for religious, spiritual, community and business groups.  A Certified Listening Professional and an ordained interfaith minister, Kay is the author of several books on the power of listening, including The Sacred Art of Listening, Practicing the Sacred Art of Listening, and How Does God Listen? What got me most interested in Kay's work is the seriousness with which she approaches the discipline of listening. Where many might see listening as a passive exercise, Kay sees it as a powerful creative force for change; where others might assume listening is a simple act requiring little preparation, Kay sees listening as a sacred act and a life-long discipline.In this podcast, Kay talks about:The role of ritual in setting the context for listening. The difference between dialogue and discussion, and why it's important to know whether you're having one or the other.Why listening presence is more important than listening technique.How three three essential and interconnected practices unleash our full listening powers:Listening to source (the practice of silence).Listening to self (the practice of reflection).Listening to others (the practice of presence).
Like a lot of people, I find the news these days dispiriting. But it’s not just the events being reported that I find depressing, it’s the way they’re being reported: scored with a relentless drumbeat of negativity that makes me feel as if I’m being marched to the edge of an abyss, only to be left there alone to contemplate our increasingly bleak future.They may not think of themselves this way, but journalists are storytellers, and the way they tell their stories shapes how you and I see each other and our world. The problem, however, is that journalists usually tell us only half the story – leaving us with a very distorted view of reality.In this interview with David Bornstein, co-founder and CEO of the Solutions Journalism Network, we learn how journalists around the world are being trained in a new approach to the stories they write, one that doesn’t shy away from the problems, but that also, with equal journalistic rigor, reports on how those problems are being solved. It’s an approach to journalism that not only helps create a more complete, and more hopeful, understanding of our world, it also has the crucial side effects of helping good ideas spread around the planet, while simultaneously helping to restore the people’s trust in the Fourth Estate.
Thinking about the Russian invasion of Ukraine reminded me of a very personal experience I had years ago — one that taught me something about the nature of evil.__________________For more insights into the art and science of difficult conversations, check out my website. You can also sign up for my free newsletter.
Mónica Guzmán is the author of a wise, entertaining, inspiring and fantastically helpful new book called “I never thought of it that way: How to Have Fearlessly Curious Conversations in Dangerously Divided Times.” It's the first book I've read on the subject that actually made me look forward to my next difficult conversation.Mónica's insights and strategies are hard won. In addition to being the chief storyteller for the national cross-partisan depolarization organization Braver Angels, as an individual and a journalist, she's organized and participated in many bridge-building conversations across our political divide. A Mexican immigrant, Latina,  dual US/Mexico citizen, and self-proclaimed liberal, she's also the loving daughter of conservative parents who twice voted for Trump.Among many other notable achievements, Mónica was a 2019 fellow at the Henry M. Jackson Foundation, where she studied social and political division, and a 2016 fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, where she researched how journalists can rethink their roles to better meet the needs of a participatory public.  She was named one of the 50 most influential women in Seattle, and served twice as a juror for the Pulitzer Prizes.I think you'll enjoy and appreciate our conversation.__________________For more insights into the art and science of difficult conversations, check out my website. You can also sign up for my free newsletter.
Amanda Ripley is an investigative journalist and a New York Times best-selling author. Her most recent book, and the subject of our conversation, is High Conflict: Why We Get Trapped and How We Get Out.  In this interview, we take a deep dive into some of her book's main ideas, including:Why high conflicts are a lot like the La Brea Tar Pits.The four "trip wires" that lead to high conflict, including "the power of the binary."Why often the best thing you can do in a conflict is first "get straight in your own head."How finding the "understory" of a conflict can be a source of liberation.How to creatively break the patterns of high conflict by "stepping out of the dance." What it means and why it's important to appeal to a "transcendent identity."And much more (my favorite: Amanda's "food in the fridge" conflict)._________________________For more insights into the art and science of difficult conversations, check out my website. You can also sign up for my free newsletter.
Show NotesWhenever you're perusing the web, you're likely to come across some new discovery about the benefits of mindfulness —a simple form of meditation that psychologists and neurologists have been studying for decades. Simple, but also powerful — proven to strengthen everything from our relationships to our hearts to our immune systems. And that's just the start. No wonder mediation training is now finding its way into everything from kindergarten classes to boardrooms.Despite its growing popularity and benefits, however, most people don't have a mindfulness practice. So I thought a podcast on the purpose, practices and rewards of mindfulness might help convince more people to give it a try.  To serve as our guide, I contacted Brett Hill, a mindfulness coach who's been studying and teaching mindfulness and other forms of meditation for decades.  It was a rich conversation that I think you'll enjoy. About Brett HillAfter graduating with a degree in interpersonal communication, Brett Hill carved out a distinguished  career in technology, including working for Microsoft Corporation, where he received that company's distinguished "Most Valuable Professional" award for 9 years. But alongside that career, Brett followed his true passion, studying, practicing, and teaching mindfulness and meditation in many forms. He studied Hakomi, a mindfulness-based somatic psychology, with founder Ron Kurtz. He also trained as a facilitator in Matrix Leadership group dynamics with founder Amina Knowlan. He taught beginning and advance meditation at the Lotus Center in Oklahoma City, OK, and went on to establish the Quest institute meditation center in Dallas, TX. Today he shares his expertise in mindful communications as a coach, author, trainer, and speaker at languageofmindfulness.com_________________________For more insights into the art and science of difficult conversations, check out my website. You can also sign up for my free newsletter.
My latest podcast guest, Joe Smarro —  featured in the Emmy award winning HBO documentary, Ernie and Joe: Crisis Cops — taught me something about navigating difficult conversations: It helps to be trained in crisis intervention.For 15 years Joe was an officer with the San Antonio, Texas police department. The last 11 of those years was with the mental health and crisis intervention unit. His job: de-escalate dangerous confrontations with those suffering from mental health traumas. It’s the kind of confrontation officers face frequently, and that accounts for one in five people killed by the police. Yet in 11 years, Joe never once had to resort to force. His only weapon, he says, was his ability to communicate.After gaining national attention for his approach to crisis intervention training, Joe left the police force and founded, together with his business partner, Jesse Trevino, Solution Point Plus, where he now delivers his training to law enforcement officers and other first responders around the country.What got me interested in Joe's work was discovering that the principles underlying his training are exactly what I talk about in my Difficult Conversations book and workshop. I figured he’d have a lot to say about how these principles work in real life, and the positive impact they can have in even the most highly charged situations._________________________For more insights into the art and science of difficult conversations, check out my website. You can also sign up for my free newsletter.
"It was so clear to me in that moment that the river was the more powerful force. It flowed on uninterrupted, no matter how many bombs went off. The bombs couldn’t affect the flow and trajectory and stillness of that river. It was more powerful than anything going on around it.  ~Former CIA Analyst, Janessa Gans WilderJanessa Gans Wilder spent 21 months in Iraq during the war's most intensive fighting as a CIA Intelligence Analyst. Eight months in, "the futility,  the violence and the confusion of war"  left her feeling drained "emotionally, physically, spiritually."  Then came the experience that changed her life direction forever: one that opened her up to a different possibility, a different way of seeing and being.After listening to the podcast, check out the global peace-building non-profit Janessa founded after returning from Iraq: The Euphrates Institute._________________________For more insights into the art and science of difficult conversations, check out my website. You can also sign up for my free newsletter.
What can improvisation teach us about the art of life and, more specifically, the art of difficult conversations? Plenty, it turns out. Join me in this provocative and thoughtful interview with Stephen Nachmanovitch — world-class improvisational musician and author of the iconic book Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art, and more recently, The Art of Is: Improvising as a Way of Life.A few excerpts from our conversation:"The process of listening presupposes the process of being able to be quiet...In a conversation, if there's a pause of 10 seconds, that’s wonderful. Because you have a chance to not assert something, to not prove something, to not be excellent. To not be right. And sometimes you can hear what the other person says.”"What seems to be a person is [an] assembly of stories....And if  we're lucky enough to be in a conversation with someone from "the other side" of whatever difficulty we are in, and we can tell some of those stories, that's a lot easier than having a position, a lot easier than having a white paper, a lot easier than having a slogan on a sign, a lot easier on the vocal cords than screaming.""When you're stuck, you're stuck. And you ain't ever gonna get out of that in that moment...but as soon as you perceive yourself as sticky...that shifts things a little bit, to sort of see the process, to see the verb.""So the question is, which kind of world do we want to live in? The kind of world where things can be fluid and move and change and evolve? Or the kind of world where everything is blocked and stuck?"_________________________For more insights into the art and science of difficult conversations, check out my website. You can also sign up for my free newsletter.
Did you know that every difficult conversation is actually three conversations, and two of them we ignore at our peril? Did you know that one of the longest standing national border disputes finally got resolved after two of the adversaries discovered they had one special thing in common? And did you know that by asking three simple questions, you can put your difficult conversation on the road to resolution? Well, get ready to learn about all that and more, because it's just a small part of my conversation with mediation expert Douglas Stone, former associate director of the Harvard Negotiation Project, co-founder of the Triad Consulting Group, and, last but not least, co-author of the New York Times best seller, Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most, and his most recent book with co-author Sheila Heen, Thanks for the Feedback, The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well. _________________________For more insights into the art and science of difficult conversations, check out my website. You can also sign up for my free newsletter.
Talking to people we seriously disagree with can sound like a recipe for a bad headache and high blood pressure. But does it have to be? Might it instead be a recipe for understanding, connection, and even friendship?  To find out, my liberal cousin Jon Karpilow spent seven months working in a gun shop in rural northern California. In this podcast he shares why he did it, what he learned, and if he'd ever, ever,  do something like that again. (Spoiler alert: Yes, he would.)Jon's book, A Liberal’s Search For America - Tales From The Gun Shop, on which this interview is based, is now available on Amazon.  "This collection of short stories depicts the personalities and events in this rural, conservative slice of America, and reminds us of how friendship can overcome ideological-based animosity when each of us makes an effort to engage and listen to those whose beliefs differ from our own."_________________________For more insights into the art and science of difficult conversations, check out my website. You can also sign up for my free newsletter.
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