One of the most beautiful things we can experience is a connection with another person.
Being able to connect is a gift in that it gives each person the opportunity to safely open and share their authentic feelings, desires and concerns.
However, often when one person meets another with an agenda, the connection is broken because he is no longer open to what the other has to say. He is not meeting her in her reality, but rather attempting to align her with his own.
To align without agreement is to communicate, “I don’t agree with you, and I am still with you.”
I am here for you and with you, and I am willing to open to your world even if I am not in agreement with it. Imagine that for a moment. Imagine how it would feel if you received more of that in your life?
We don’t need agreement to connect with another. But we need connection to communicate with another. Connection is in fact the foundation for all communication. Through connection I am open to you, and I am willing to temporarily suspend my agenda so I can be fully present with you.
This takes self-awareness and communication skills. It takes a willingness to hold our agenda loosely so not to be too attached to a particular outcome. It takes curiosity, a mindset of genuine interest in another, to find out what their feelings and thoughts are. And of course it takes deep listening. When we are looking for agreement, the only thing we are listening to is our own agenda. To listen to another is a form of letting go of control, a willingness to surrender the tightness of our grip to a degree.
Without these emotional and social intelligence skills, and the accompanying feeling of connection, our words will not be received. They will bounce off the other person’s defensiveness or feeling of disrespect.
Our need for agreement is often linked to fear.
Looking for agreement is often our way of protecting our ideas, and it can be very much tied to our self-worth. The more tightly we hold on to our agenda, the sharper our fear of judgment or loss. By opening to another there is a sense of vulnerability, the possibility that we may lose what we hold so dear. And in losing our agenda, we fear a loss of Self. Agreement is therefore our attempt to attain reinforcement for our agenda and deeper self-worth. If people agree with us, then we are right, and being right boosts our self-esteem and satisfies our need for control. But unfortunately, the conversation cannot move beyond that point. It is stuck in a tug of war between your needs and theirs.
All our attempts to achieve anything, when broken down, are an attempt to feel a desired state within.
In our attempts to attain agreement, we are trying to achieve something deeper and more important than the fulfillment of our agenda – a feeling of peace, acceptance, trust, and of course, love. A connection with our deeper Self.
If you think about it, what would the fulfillment of your agenda ultimately give you that you are seeking? By having your idea met, validated, included and acted upon, what would that ultimately lead you to experience? Probably one of the feelings mentioned above, combined with a feeling of self-worth.
If we just realize this, that we are all seeking feeling states, then it puts our need for agreement into perspective. We become more humble and less attached. We can more easily move into conversations with less baggage and greater freedom. And we can find consensus through a more harmonious dance of engagement.
It is much easier to travel down the road towards agreement if we can first establish a dance.
An ebb and flow built in trust and openness is essential if you want to reach the goal of agreement. Consider it a dance! A willingness to travel with another person’s point of view, to give it room to breathe, and try it on, before offering your own. You dance in their world for a while with curiosity, listening, empathy, patience and understanding. You validate and include their point of view with the understanding that it is important to them. And then when that person has fully been heard, you offer your dance steps by building upon the conversation in creative ways. You share your points of view and trust the other will receive you the same way that you received her.
This reciprocal exchange of receiving and giving is the dance of connection and the heart of communication. It is a beautiful place of communion, which the word communication has its origins in. Only by travelling through the heart can we reach that common place where we stand together. Only by communing through the dance of connection can we most organically and lovingly find a place of agreement.
Enjoy your dance! Enjoy your connection! Enjoy your conversation!
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Check out Vince’s book: Let the Fire Burn ~ Nurturing the Creative Spirit of Children, A Children’s Book for Adults