It has been more than a year since I first started blogging here.  That is hard to believe.  I am disappointed with myself for the apparent lack of commitment to the writing.  It has been more difficult than I knew to keep attention focused here.  I applaud those of you who are more diligent and disciplined than I about siting down and typing in thoughts.  I still move toward writing with my pen.  It is more natural and comfortable to me.  Maybe I should just hire someone to take my journal and type it in.  Somehow that doesn’t seem appropriate.

I do have a renewed interest in blogging sparked by the threat of another election.  I really want to talk about political talk and political conversation and the righteousness and ‘wrong’eousness that is so apparentthere.  Politicians are always telling us what they think and they give lip service to listening.  I have only ever seen one politician really listen and respond in a way that gave evidence of having listened.  The rest are often in defense mode, defending their view or their parties view.  My thoughts on this up coming election when ever it occurs is that we actually insist that politicians take a breathe between asking a question of us and then answering it themselves.  Take a breathe, listen with both ears and then show us they were listening by acknowledging our emotion and identifying OUR criteria for a better future BEFORE they share their with us.  Smart politicians will see the connections and the common ground and build from there.  I would propose a change in approach to politics in general.  Politics is a conversation.  If politics is only confrontation then no one wins.  If it is a conversation the potential exists for everyone to win.

I think in this election we should all promote a different kind of political conversation.  Politicians would be well served if they could stop and learn the simple Conversation Frame that I have discovered.  It  has five guiding questions and five guiding principles.

First the principles:  We ask people to speak so the other can hear, in a gentle way.  We ask them to be honest and say what they are thinking, in a gentle way.  We ask them to be open to what is being said and allow it to influence their point of view.  We remind them that acknowledging or understanding is not the same as agreeing.  We ask them to be specific and use examples for clarity and we ask them to commit to a time to talk that will not include walk aways or power plays.

GHOST – Gentle, Honest, Open, Specific Talk

The guiding questions:

1.  How will the conversation proceed?  Here we Prepare for the conversation by setting the principles and purpose, the level of confidentiality and the time frame.

2. What is the conversation about?  Here we Uncover the topic for the conversation so that everyone is clear and so that if it goes off topic we know.

3. What about this topic is important to the participants? Why is it significant?  Here we Learn what’s missing, the criteria for a better future, the beliefs, expectations, assumptions, concerns and hopes, the values that we hold that are different and those that are the same.  The skilled conversationalist can learn to re-frame the negatives to the positives and locate the common ground.

4. What are our options moving forward?  Here we Search the possibilities.  What could we do given our differences and our shared values? This is where the LUNCH identification plan surfaces –Liberal, Undecided, ND, Conservative, Hostile.

5. What are we committed to do moving forward?  Here we Explain a plan of action, next steps.  That could be to call again or to visit the office or to show up on e-day.


Prepare, Uncover, Learn, Search, Explain = PULSE

I have seen this conversation work again and again in hostile situations and I know that with a little bit of training we can make a difference in the way that people speak and listen to each other.  Improving the quality of the conversation we have with voters will improve our chances of  engaging people in the process, changing their minds and perhaps even changing their votes.

I am re-energized by the possibility of approaching things with a new lens on the camera.  Looking through the old one meant seeing people with different views as broken, needing to be fixed.  This new lens shows us that these fellow voters are people with unique AND shared values. Getting curious about their beliefs, expectation, assumptions, concerns and hopes and where the shared values are is key.  It is counter-intuitive and essential if politics is to truly become a conversation.  When we talk together, the future becomes obvious.  Let’s begin the conversation for our future Canada.