By Lorelle Meadows, Dean Pavlis Honors College
For the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to find time to read a book that was recommended to me by a PHC student. It’s called Crucial Conversations. It’s about developing the skills for engaging in the day-to-day conversations that affect your life. But not just any conversation – crucial ones: the kind when opinions vary, the stakes are high and emotions run strong. Yikes!! Sounds like something we like to avoid!
One of the first things the authors mention is the importance of the free flow of relevant information – the open and honest sharing of perspectives and ideas – because only then will the best decisions be made and only then will everybody buy in to and respect the decisions. The authors call this filling the pool of shared meaning. I like this analogy and the image that it takes all of us to fill this pool. It also fills much quicker if we are all pouring in our thoughts and ideas.
When people have a chance to share their ideas – no matter how controversial they might appear at first glance, no matter how challenging to others beliefs – people feel valued and engage in making meaning together – in understanding. Even though not everybody is guaranteed to be completely happy with whatever decision is made, the deeper the pool, the better the choice and the stronger the belief in the decision and the understanding of why the decision was made.
What I hope to always remember as I continue to meet and work with others, is that in that instant when I feel challenged or faced with controversy, and my heart begins to race and I start to think about running or hiding, that I am engaging in the beginning of filling that glorious pool of shared meaning. And, soon, that pool will be overflowing with unique perspectives, amazing ideas and all I have to do is dive in!!