Last weekend, Warren and I headed home to celebrate the holiday with my family. You might think I’m talking about Easter, but I’m actually talking about April Fools Day.
My 10-year-old niece, Ava is obsessed with the holiday and had been planning and scheming for quite a while.
She also built an elaborate game of Jeopardy with exciting categories such as pets, family history, Harry Potter, and The Louisianna Purchase. 😂
It was such a fun weekend and it felt so good to be with my family. The weather was gorgeous and we got to sit around and talk for hours, play games, and hide eggs for the kiddos – so fun.
The weekend was nearly perfect aside from one small mis-step I made during a conversation I had with my mom. For context, Warren and I recently moved to Richmond, VA to be closer to his mom, who hasn’t been doing well health-wise. Richmond is a city steeped in the history of the Civil War, formerly known as the capital of the Confederacy.
At one point during the weekend, I was telling my mom about the confederate monuments that had recently been removed in Richmond. My opinion is that, by removing statues that represent the fight to preserve slavery, we are creating opportunities to re-envision how we tell the darker parts of our history. For example, this new Road to Freedom network is a great example of providing a fuller history of the Civil War by telling the “under-represented stories of slaves, educators, and soldiers.”
When I mentioned the removal of the monuments, my mom made a statement about it being “stupid to erase our history.” I didn’t give her much of an opportunity to elaborate on her perspective. Instead, I laid into her, making point after point about why my perspective was correct and why her perspective was completely invalid and wrong.
After I ranted for a good 15 minutes, she said quietly, “I didn’t know the conversation was going to go like this.”
I could see that I hurt her and shut her down. If I’m being truthful, that was exactly my intention. Not to hurt her, but to convince her why I was right and why she was wrong.
I immediately thought about what my friend, Heather Hackman says about opening up difficult conversations with curiosity, empathy, and humility rather than shutting down the conversation with guilt, shame, and blame.
I definitely went the guilt, shame, and blame route. It didn’t feel good and wasn’t effective. Luckily, my mom and I have a wonderful relationship, so she quickly forgave me when I acknowledge my mis-step.
I’ve been reflecting a lot on how the conversation went, and how I could have handled it differently. This weekend, I came across this article entitled, “How to Speak Honestly, Even When it’s Hard.” The article has broad application across many different scenarios where opinions differ. The part that resonated with me the most was the section about having a learning mindset. As the article states, “A learning mindset is based on the assumption that one’s view of the world is essentially incomplete.”
The article goes on to say that, “It’s much easier to speak honestly when you have a learning mindset. Your objective in speaking is not to convince others but to inform, share, and create dialogue.”
This article was such a helpful reminder to me and I thought you might find it interesting as well.
I wonder if you’ve had similar experiences with loved ones, colleagues, or friends – situations where you felt so dogmatic about being right that you steamrolled through the conversation? Or perhaps you have discovered effective ways of sharing your point of view with curiosity, empathy, and humility?
I always love hearing from you, so if you have feedback you’d want to share, I’d love to hear it!
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