The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Shifting the quality of conversations

The two of us had met for a virtual conversation. We had the loose idea to exchange on a text we both found interesting. As we met, we started with the normal chit chat to share some news and update one another. After a while, Julie started to present a book she had been reading sharing some of the insights she had gathered until now. The conversation meandered around the insights she had gathered until it reached a point I questioned.

It shifted the conversation to a discussion. One in which, following my question, Julie started to defend her position and argued in a way trying to persuade me of her view. We had entered a stage during which she was concentrating on her arguments finding it hard to hear the ideas I was bringing forward.

She was working hard to change my opinion. Most of her arguments were presented in a way seeking my approval. What she didn’t realize, was that her urgency to get my approval didn’t consider the information I had brought forward. Nevertheless, from her point of view, she had been engaging with me with her questions. She hadn’t realized that they had been rhetorical.

It was a path on which we would have ended nowhere.

We needed to find a way out of the defensive cul-de-sac.

It happened as I shared my thinking and what had led me to my idea to then ask her to explain how she had come to her idea.

That was, what had been missing until then. None of us had shared our thinking. We had focused on arguments and changing the other’s point of view.

By describing my point of view and the underlying thinking I had opened up the door to vulnerability making possible holes in my thinking visible. By being genuinely interested in how Julies’ point of view might be different from mine, Julie had the opportunity to share her thinking, opening the door to learning from one another.

Exchanging arguments with one another is just as interesting as learning from one another. But it pays to know which of both you want.


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