Three Pillars (3): Authentic Compassionate Conversation

In the final introductory article on the core ideas behind #PledgeToListen, Tarek Mounib examines the place of authentic compassionate conversation in the project he founded as a response to the experience of making Free Trip to Egypt.

"Conversation is a profound action that helps us to expand our consciousness and connect together parts and people that are separated. I can’t think of anything else that does that. It is one of our unique human paths to fulfillment and wholeness."

Anne W. Dosher

Authentic conversation begins with being fully present and taking a genuine interest in what another person is sharing. It’s about applying deep listening so that we can more accurately understand another person’s perspective; pausing long enough to take our emotional temperature so that we may offer a respectful response, and letting a person know he/she has been heard. Small, simple steps, such ask asking clarifying questions; and expressing appreciation for the conversation, are vital.

Conversation matters. So, let’s talk! There is no substitute for person-to-person conversations which, in fact, have been taking place for as long as human beings have been inhabiting the planet.

When those conversations are authentic, they provide the greatest potential for going beyond the borders of our own value systems, for overcoming fear-filled social conditioning and actualizing conscious recognition of our interconnectedness as a global family.

Regardless of how awkward it may at first feel to speak with individuals who appear to be so fundamentally different than ourselves, authentic conversation has the potential to stimulate civility, deep listening, and nonviolent communication.

Authentic conversation contains a compassionate, intelligent energy that can catapult us across the fault lines running between the world’s cultures, politics, and religions that we allow to separate us today.

Our willingness to expand how we individually identify and accept that we share a common humanity with all beings is the panacea to the illusion of separation.

As world history testifies, change continues to be born through conversations that take place from international conference tables to living rooms, salons, bars, cafes, dog parks and golf courses.

Because the art of authentic conversation influences us both as individuals and as a world community, new understandings, deeper appreciation, respect, and insights into new possibilities emerge. Authentic conversations lead to appreciating and honoring diversity, resolving conflicts, lifting us out of polarization and unifying our path into co-creating the future.

If you feel that more authentic compassionate conversation is needed in the world, here are a set of questions for yourself, your family and wider community that offer starting points to facilitate connection.

  • What specific qualities would improve the quality of my conversational skills?
  • Do I prefer conversing with people who, for the most part, agree with me, or am I equally willing to talk or debate with persons who have diverse opinions?
  • Do I find myself talking more than listening?
  • Do I practice deep listening in order to authentically respond to what is being shared?
  • When I must respond to a question or type of behavior that could trigger hurt feelings, strong resistance or retaliation, do I think before I speak and do my best to respond calmly, respectfully, empathically?
  • Do I speak with others the way I would like to be spoken to?
  • Do I have most of my conversations on social media?
  • Do I express myself differently on social media than in face-to-face conversation?
  • Am I equally civil, listening deeply, and speaking authentically when communicating on social media and in person?