Love and The Art of Convening
by Cindy Wold
I started a graduate program this fall and am interested in carrying “love” as a scholarly topic of study and as a theme for my program. As I research this topic I am finding many others who are taking love as a serious phenomenon worthy of understanding for the sake of human wellbeing and effective relationships. The time seems right to dig deeper into this subject.
I find myself, still, passionately interested in studying the meaning and practice of love. I say “still” because this is not a new interest. It has its roots in many life experiences, in reading and study and, surprisingly, in the co-authoring of The Art of Convening!
Many years ago I read Erich Fromm’s classic book, The Art of Loving. In the book, Dr. Fromm posits that love is a not simply a sensation we may or may not be lucky enough to feel, but is indeed an art which one must study and practice to master. In the book he gave advice on how to both recognize and practice the art of loving.
When I collaborated with Craig and Patricia on writing The Art of Convening book, I began to think about one of the practices of loving that Fromm presented in his book: the quality of concentration.
According to Dr. Fromm this meant attending very deliberately to what one was doing in the moment, and multitasking as little as possible. He also took it to mean that we avoid, as much as possible, what he labeled “trivial conversation.”
Avoiding trivial conversation doesn't mean that everything we talk about has to be of grave or overarching importance. It means that what we talk about be genuinely of interest and meaningful to us and our conversation partner(s) and not just an exchange of pithy clichés or memorized talking points. In other words, we are urged to bring our conversations into the realm of truth, genuineness and recognition of the other.
I began to realize that The Art of Convening was a book that described a detailed method for bringing exactly this condition of concentration into our conversations. So, to me, as I have practiced the Art of Convening in my life and work, I consider that I am also practicing love. And I think that whether we intend it or not, we all bring a practice of love to our meetings, gatherings and conversations when we use the Art of Convening to create the quality of authentic engagement.
Do you have an experience of bringing the quality of love to your everyday work and life? Are there practices that you have discovered? Has the Art of Convening made a difference in the quality of your relationships? I'd love to hear from you and, if you're interested, would be happy to send links to some of my research.
Cynthia (Cindy) Wold is a Co-author of "The Art of Convening: Authentic Engagement in Meetings, Gatherings, and Conversations"