How to Have a Conversation

Today’s prompt is a timely reminder of how fear hinders honest dialogue. It’s telling that only through tragic events can the #YesAllWomen hashtag remove such fears for some women. They feel liberated. Others feel justified. The many “I was so afraid to share” and “Everyone said I was crazy and told me to shut up”  tweets attest to the silence of fear. Millions around the world could not be wrong. Or could they?

These are dark moments, kept secret because society said they are wrong. “Whatever you have to say is not the truth and you are blowing it out of proportion.” The purpose of these tweets is not to celebrate feminism, take down ‘the man’ or whatever. They are bravely sharing their stories in hopes that someone will actually listen. These tweets are calls into an empty home, hoping for a thoughtful reply. They are trying to open up an honest dialogue.

I always taught my students that a conversation is not only talking. You have to also listen. A proper conversation is an exchange of ideas. Giving and taking. Internalizing someone’s thoughts, understanding them through empathy. Only then can you reply meaningfully in order to offer your own thoughts in return.

Some understand this fundamental idea. Others don’t. This is the source of the war raging within the #YesAllWomen hashtag. The trolls refuse to listen, to internalize, to empathize. They hear, then focus on how offended they feel. They empathize with themselves first. Sounds illogical, right? That’s because it doesn’t even fit the definition of empathy!

So this is me, breaking the silence by paying it forward and sharing stories that are only asking you to listen.

And so many more.