How do you show up and speak up in a world that’s so fractured and divided? How you do look for middle ground? Is there middle ground between our fractured groups?
That’s the topic of today’s video. Listen in here 👇.
Prefer to read? The blog post is directly below 😀.
- There are people who are finding their voices and they’re finding a connection to social justice that maybe they haven’t expressed before in their work or in particular areas. As they do that, they’re setting boundaries. They’re getting clear about what they do and don’t stand for
- Then there’s another group of people who are watching that and thinking, “Oh my God. Am I going to have to do that?” Or “That feels too sharp. I don’t know how to do that.”
- Then there’s a third group of people who are thinking, “But how do we take forward this idea of healing and how do we find a way to actually come together? We don’t have to all be on the same page, but how do we at least move forward with some level of humanity and respect and so forth?
And I think these are wildly important considerations for all of us as human beings, as members of society, and as business owners. Because every single person in your community is having these challenges. They’re trying to work these out for themselves, whether in their relationships with their family members, or in their relationships at work, or wherever it might be. Or they’re wondering how they set these, have these, hold these conversations in their own communities.
So let’s unpack this a bit.
Firstly, it’s important to remember that there are different conversations that are serving different purposes.
Some people are finding a new form of expression with their voices and when you go through that phase, you tap into some personal power which means that you find a different voice. In that space, that space is not about how do we compassionately heal? How do we solve all the problems of the world? It’s about personal power. It’s about self-expression. And if that’s not the phase that you’re in, or if you’re of a personality type that feels very confronted by that, then maybe they’re not the conversations for you. Maybe that’s not where you need to spend your time.
But just know this, that moving through that space of personal power and personal expression enables you to come to the next form of self-expression. That’s not the end of the game. It’s a point of transition.
You’re moving from point A: I don’t even know if it can speak up about these things.
Through point B: I’m using my voice to assert my boundaries and my values.
To point C: I speak with compassion and clarity.
In other words, the journey of speaking up is a journey from being fearful about expressing yourself, to finding your voice, to being able to use that voice in compassionate ways.
So one of the things that you want to do, particularly on social media, is to recognise which conversation you’re having right now. Do the conversations you’re engaged in reflect where you are on your journey of self-expression?
Sometimes the wisest course of action is to recognise that the conversation you’re in, isn’t actually for you. And then step back.
The other thing to consider is whether you can drop the polarity of I’m right and they’re wrong. When we begin a conversation from this perspective, we begin from a point of entrenchment. We think our job is to convince the other person of our rightness. But they also believe it’s their job to convince you of their rightness. And so each becomes even more entrenched in their perspective.
So now I’m looking at this idea; what if we could have a different conversation? What if instead of right and wrong, we could have a conversation about how do you prioritize your values and why do you prioritize those values over the other values?
So let me give you an example of that. One of my highest values is kindness. I value kindness for a whole range of reasons, including personal experience where people were very unkind to me as a child. That taught me the value of kindness, of the significance of simple acts of kindness. Because when you’re being bullied as I was as a child, you notice the acts of kindness. They’re rare and they’re small. But just occasionally a person looks over at you and gives you a smile. Or they say, “Come over here.” It’s a quiet act of inclusion which can mean the world to the child who is struggling to belong.
So that taught me the power of kindness. So that’s why, when I see people speaking up and I see hate or disrespect or meanness in their words, I wonder why kindness isn’t their highest value.
And you see that if I couch that investigation in an inquiry into values – rather than a judgment about a person’s character – then the potential for conversation opens up. I can ask about their value set and then can respond with, “Well, this is why I care about.”
Take a moment to consider your own community. Think about the industry you’re in and consider how you might encourage a conversation around values. Because when you do, you invite people to connect with you at a deeper level, to show more vulnerability because you’re showing vulnerability. To share a fear. Because the truth is, people desperately need you to see and understand their fears and meet them in a place where they know they’re heard and seen. If you don’t take the time with this, the emotional response is generally, “If you can’t see my fear around this, then we can’t meet because you’re not meeting my fundamental core need to have that taken care of.” But it isn’t expressed that way. It’s expressed as; “You’re wrong. You don’t care about things you should care about. You’re a terrible person.”
An entirely new conversation evolves when we start from that place of, “Tell me about what your values are. Tell me about why they matter to you.” And then, with that as our foundation, we consider how we build out our world, heal the environment, or recreate an industry.
Values are a path to the middle ground but to get there, we have to be brave enough to speak to what really matters to us. Not merely on an intellectual or theoretical level but on an emotional level too.