This article was first posted on the AoC Book blog
Someone asked me today what I imagined would make the biggest difference in improving the quality of an upcoming conversation. I thought about it a bit and said that it would be telling the truth.
I don't think the people intentionally lie, but I think all of us like to manage our persona and make a good impression. We want to get along with others and may unconsciously utter clichés instead of offering thoughtful, relevant talk. I suppose there's nothing wrong with that, but I am sometimes in exchanges where that kind of thing is practiced to an extreme - and it wears me out! Also, it is impossible for me to develop a sense of trust in my conversations when I believe that truth is not forthcoming.
Most of us are not privy to knowing what THE TRUTH in capital letters is, but we do know what we are experiencing and thinking in the moment. It is more uncomfortable for me to openly share my genuine experiences and thoughts when others are not doing the same - much like the feeling of being watched from behind a one-way glass. That doesn't mean we have to bare our souls and tell all, or expound fully on our areas of expertise, but it does mean that we have to be real.
In The Art of Convening, authentic engagement is defined as simply the genuine expression of what is true for us, and an attentive listening to what is true for others. It's not entertaining, persuading or manipulating, but it is very energizing. Using the principles and practices of the Art of Convening make it much more likely that participants in a conversation or gathering will authentically engage - which means telling the truth.
What is your experience of truth-telling and the Art of Convening?
Cynthia Wold, Co-author of "The Art of Convening: Authentic Engagement in Meetings, Gatherings, and Conversations"