In keeping with this month’s theme at First Parish, Right Relationships, let’s start by acknowledging that relationships can be complex, so getting them “right” can be difficult. Compounding the challenge is the fact that we each have many kinds of relationships and no two are the same.
In the face of such complex and indeterminate forces, it’s not surprising when we approach relational interactions with more protective personas, pre-conceived posturing or perfunctory patter.
Open, honest and direct communication can be fraught, even perilous. If I tell you what I really think and believe, will it jeopardize our relationship? If you are forthright with me, can I really hear your sentiment without being defensive or reactive?
Being forthright feels risky because it could change the relationship – for better or for worse. And change is risky. So it often seems like we must choose between honesty and the relationship (in its current form). When one impinges on the other, can that still be a right relationship?
Because of the inherent risk, these interactions are sometimes referred to as courageous conversations.
The dynamic goes beyond our close relationships. Within our professional and/or public relationships, there can be other forms of risk and impediments to forthrightness.
And yet these days we may feel increasingly called to take that risk, to be courageous, to speak out in public on behalf of ourselves or someone else. There are occasions when our silence is a form of complicity in a relationship that is far from right.
In this month’s Big Question Forum we’ll talk (openly and honestly) about the challenges, impediments and imperatives related to forthright communication – at home, in our community, at work, and in the more public sphere.
We hope you can join us next Tuesday, January 23rd at 7:30 in the parlor.