Waiting....just waiting and preparing
Like most of you, my family is anticipating the SCOTUS decision. Many feel that this decision is coming at the end of June while others (like my wife) feel strongly that we will be surprised with a decision by mid-June. When this decision comes -- which I feel will at the very least will force states to recognize marriages performed in legal states, yet hopeful (like all of you) we will see full marriage equality brought to all states -- we must be prepared and ready for powerful and/or difficult conversations within our churches/synagogues, our places of work, our children's schools, and our own homes.
As these conversations began we must practice empathic communication. By following Stephen Covey's 5th habit of "seeking first to understand, then to be understood" we are less likely to offend others and have a much better chance to influence other people. I've noticed, as you may have, that when having these difficult conversations the other person is more likely to try to understand my point of view when I talk personally about myself or my family. How can someone talk hate when I share stories, when I share humor, when I share the depth of the love shared between my wife and I or my daughter.
When these difficult conversations arise, sadly I often allow my raw emotions to emerge without giving the other speaker the opportunity to be heard. As I hear their first opposing remark, I automatically begin forming my rebuttal. However, I must truly listen, ask clarifying questions, and practice my empathic listening skills to have a greater influence and for my words to have a deeper impact.
At PrideFest this week our 8 year old asked why there were some men dressed like ladies and some ladies dressed like men. Seems like an easy answer, but it wasn't. When norms are challenged no matther how it is beautifully explained it is still confusing-- to 8 year old girls and to 80 year old men.
Conversations need to happen, they are happening, and come mid-June and beyond they will happen with raw emotion and strong passion. Be prepared to listen -- truly listen so you can better be understood. I challenge you to have convesations that when you walk away you weren't a "winner" but instead all were winners because you both were heard.