I also believe in the power and value of conversation. In community we need to engage in healthy robust conversations. Conversation has been defined/described as the ‘art of thinking together’. This is an art we all need to become more and more skilled in.
In addition recently there have been a flood of books about how to conduct conversations. They unpack conversation and conversations of different types or with different objectives – crucial conversations, critical conversations, robust conversations. The more skilled we become in the art of conversation the more ‘tools’ we will have available to us to address and deal with the plenitude of issues facing the world today. Possibly we need to, in our hyper-connected, social media obsessed world, learn once again to converse with one another – not talk to one another, or talk past one another – but converse with one another.
In today’s world there are so many new ways to speak, to make ones voice heard. So many ways but, it seems, less and less common understanding. Less and less true sharing of ideas. Even less and less true development of new ideas as we skillfully combine each of our own ideas with those around us, those we share life with.
As we converse, develop and mature in the trues art of thinking together the value lies not in what I start off thinking or in what you start off thinking but in the ideas, understanding and wisdom that emerges as we think together.
Conversation entails a two way, dignified, respectful thinking together. We listen and talk and listen and talk, then talk and listen, talk and listen. We hear and speak, and wait, ponder and be silent and talk and listen and hear. This is conversation. Conversation is connection. Conversation takes more than one person, conversation is community. Conversation builds community.
Talking seems so natural – conversation is an art. An art that I am still learning.
Conversation flows. As we think together, we also learn how to better decide together. Most deciding is together, especially in the communal world we live in. Deciding guides our doing and doing determines impact. The better we think together, the better we become at deciding together. The more considered out actions will be and the impact of these actions will be more and more in line with what we anticipate it to be. There will be less ‘surprises’. Less, or better anticipated, risks. Better managed impact. Less to try to justify – a quicker path to success and maturity.
Conversation therefore provides deep insight and input into our models of change. We can improve acting by improving deciding, we can improve deciding by improving thinking.
I therefore believe strongly that we need more ‘considered conversations’.
I am ‘intentionally’ using the word ‘considered’ before I use the word ‘intentional’. It is not that I do not like the concept of intentional but it firstly takes consideration to determine what our intention should/could be. Consideration is and must remain primary -being intentional flows out of being considered. Consideration must precede intention.
To dig a bit deeper ‘considered thinking’ aims to uncover the primary or ultimate things – the foundational things, the deepest things, the elemental or radical /root things. Roots grow deeper as over time our thinking about issues also goes deeper. A ‘small thought’ has shallow roots, so not much consideration is necessary. The ‘bigger’ the thought the greater the consideration required.
As unpacked above thinking feeds into decisions, decisions determine action, action results in impact. The bigger the thought the greater the potential impact – which means the greater the consideration necessary to see it through.
To consider things well includes (i) the art of observation – the ability to see things and the thing we are considering properly/well; (ii) the art of examination – being able to turn things over and over until they are fully known; (iii) the task of analysis – seeking to understand the place or context of the thing we are considering; (iv) the ability to evaluate – to asses and weigh each thing up.
This is, to some extent , what I think we actually mean when we say ‘duly considered’?
So in considering the concept of ‘Considered Conversations’ some definitions and thoughts.
The origin of the word ‘consider’ is the Latin word ‘considerare’. It means ‘to look at closely, to examine’. Its literal meaning is also ‘to observe the stars (constellation)’ as such it was perhaps used as a metaphor for navigation. This is really powerful. Consideration helps us to navigate our way through life, navigate our way in relationships and find a destination. A further derivation from the English use of the word consider means ‘to stretch or extend’ and another sense for full word consider is to ‘survey on all sides’ or ‘dwell long upon’.
Consider therefore includes:
- To think carefully about, especially in order to make a decision.
- To reflect.
- To view carefully of thoughtfully.
- To regard as or to deem to be.
- To think, believe or suppose.
- To bear in mind, to make allowance for.
- To pay attention to, to regard.
- To regard with respect, thoughtfulness, honor and esteem.
- To view attentively, to scrutinise.