Good conversation has an edge. It opens your eyes to something, stirs your imagination, reverberates in your mind later in the day. Your mind has been sparked.
What if you start worrying that the other person will get angry or roll his or her eyes at you? Fear of someone’s reactions stifles your imagination and creative thinking. The possibility for a good conversation shuts down.
Intimacy means sharing your depth, vulnerability, and creative imagination. When someone is threatened by others’ ideas, intimacy vanishes. Conversely, when someone desperately craves agreement and support at all costs, intimacy also evaporates.
When we strive to balance two fundamental drives: our desire for connection and our desire for individuality, our sense of self becomes more resilient, allowing our conversations to become freer, deeper and more meaningful. It allows us to have exciting conversations rather than mumbled agreement between yes-men and yes-women.
When we feel some emotional autonomy, we lose the need to have our ideas constantly validated. We lose our fear of expressing an absurb or eccentric idea.
Emotional autonomy allows us to develop true intimacy in conversation. It allows us to resist manipulating the other person into agreeing with our opinions and supporting us emotionally.
Emotional autonomy frees up conversation. We can be experimental, edgy, and passionate about our ideas. Support becomes voluntary and thus more honest and meaningful. Conversation becomes more passionate, stirring and stimulating.
The first step toward meaningful conversation is to listen and engage the other person with presence, openness, and curiosity. The next step is to dance with the idea and give it a twirl in an unexpected direction.
Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee and just as hard to sleep after.
~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh
by Alison Poulsen, PhD