Community in conversation Reverend Andrew Manning

2016-03-16 06:00
x Photo: Supplied

x Photo: Supplied

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I BELIEVE that good dialogue happens when we begin to listen to each other and discuss our misunderstandings, then we will have a conversation that will bring us together.

Too often our communication simply aims at getting someone else to see our point of view. We speak to tell others what we know and what we believe they should know. But it's only when we fully understand other people's point of view and deal with how that view relates to us, that we can claim effective dialogue.
Years ago I was a supermarket manager and we had an office upstairs which had large windows from which we could see the whole store. I remember having supervisor meetings and planning activities together in that office. I'd then watch four supervisors go out and apply four different versions of what we had just collaboratively agreed upon. I'd then have to go down and work though the different interpretations that left the room despite saying we all understood.

Life is like that, but often we don't take the time to look out the window and see how those around us have interpreted our common life together. We just see people doing things and then blame them and criticise them. This is not helpful. We need to go down onto the "shop floor" of life and dialogue through the differences. I tend to listen by speaking - when I can articulate another's point of view to the point where they agree, then I know that I understand it. Dialogue is not just hearing another speak, it is working through another's rationale or thought pattern and understanding their view.

It is only when we are prepared do this that we are able to listen attentively unhindered, but our own filters of prejudice, fear, culture, present state of mind, dreams and aspirations and our confusions that arise over things not being the way we think they should be. When we look at life and see that it's not what we were expecting, we need to get into conversation we need true dialogue.

When we see others doing what we would not do, we need to dialogue. The key is to accept that we all had the same staring point, believe it or not, accept it or not, we were all born into the same world and our different understandings come from our different vantage points, but only dialogue can change that. You can't always change the environment, you can't always change the circumstances, but you can always change the way you understand it. You can always change the way you act and react.

Join the conversation. Seek first to understand and then to be understood. This is the true art of dialogue. - Reverend Andrew Manning

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