PATTERNS FOR CONVERSATIONS ON A SMALL SCALE

#S2.1  Making it possible to express the “no”

Briefly

This pattern introduces a unique practice of giving voice to the inner voice of resistance or doubt – the “no” –  in a conversation. The intention is to access the wisdom that is contained with in the “no”.

The context

You are having a conversation with another person. There is a sense of formality or politeness that prevents you from expressing doubt, criticism or resistance that arises within you. It may well be the same for the other person. You don’t know.

The problem

When you hold back expressing your “no” (doubt, criticism or resistance) in response to the other’s statement, this does not serve the conversation. It will linger and return – perhaps even stronger. You may leave the conversation feeling frustrated. There is wisdom in this “no” that will be lost if you cannot speak it out.

Design element

Establish a practice – perhaps through agreement – that those participating in the conversation will express their “no”. They do not do so to criticise or to oppose, but rather to make those involved aware of a seed of resistance. 

This practice works becomes easier the more you use it. Your attitude is to access the wisdom in the inner voice of resistance, even when it is as mild as a slight doubt. It is an act of generosity rather than one of opposition. 

A response to a friend or colleague expressing their “no” in this way might be to suggest that you explore it in order to find its wisdom. One way to do so is to ask the question, what would you need to accept or live with my decision, my intention or my point of view?

Source: Inspired by Myrna Lewis.

Linked patterns

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