I walked out of a meeting today that felt skittish and pinched. A fellow attendee stopped me on the way out and said, “That meeting didn’t feel good.” For me, that was a conscious conversation. In that moment, the tense vibe of the previous hour dissolved. It was a moment of humor, levity and ease without a lot of words.
To me, having a conscious conversation means that I am physically, emotionally and mentally awake. It rarely seems to happen for more than a few minutes at a time, and I often find words and concepts to be an impediment to conscious conversation.
I care about strengthening our justice system and being a good citizen. I aspire to have professional, personal and political conversations that are strategic, pragmatic and focused on outcomes I desire. Some moments in these conversations are conscious, and some are formulaic and choreographed. It seems that when I am self-aware and accountable, I can quickly tell the difference and pivot from one type of conversation to the other. When I’m in a conscious conversation I can get to the heart of the matter quickly and I have more access to my own creativity and innovation. When I’m distracted, resisting, controlling or pushing away the conversation in front of me, I don’t have much access to my own creativity. A willingness to be uncomfortable and vulnerable seems like a pre-condition for my conscious conversations.
I have a colleague and friend who holds much different political views than I do. Many days during the 2016 presidential election we tried to have conscious conversations about the candidates and the political choices we were being asked to make. I reminded myself that it was ok that we held different views; that we didn’t need to see things the same way or make the same choices. Our conversations see-sawed back and forth between feeling like a threat or an authentic desire to grow and learn. Sometimes it felt like a ‘chutes and ladders’ game – one moment we were in a conscious exchange and in the next moment, we were triggered and off to the moon.