One of my favorite classes to teach at ACU Online is CONR 637 – Dispute Resolution and the Legal System. It’s kind of a hippie-ish class in which we look at conflict management in different cultures across the world and then try to use what we learned to see our own homes in a new way.
In one assignment, we redeem a wrong done to one of us in the past by turning it into a lesson that all of us can learn together. We discuss the wrong someone did to us by attacking our identity, and then we extract from it a lesson on how to be peacemakers. In the most recent iteration of the class, two main themes emerged. I wanted to pass on the collective wisdom of the class to y’all so you can also benefit.
A lot of times people say or do things because they make assumptions about an individual or a larger group of people. The offender has in their mind the way the world works. Their perspective is THE perspective. There’s a lot of judging and pronouncements from that posture, and not a lot of conversing or learning.
The posture of curiosity, however, makes us much less likely to assume that we know what’s going on or why someone did what they did. We ask clarifying and probing questions. We wonder how people came to view the situation how they did, and what they’re hoping to achieve. We don’t take things for granted when we’re curious. We’re open to learning and being taught and we’re also much more creative precisely because we’re open to the world.
How many times have we said something and then immediately wished we could reach out and grab those words back? Blech. That’s a bad feeling. Pausing before we speak can eliminate a lot of that malodorous verbiage that we soon regret. Maybe we can think of a better way to say what we mean, or wait for a better time.
Or, sometimes, maybe we don’t need to say anything at all. However hot we felt in the moment, whatever it was doesn’t matter to us later in the day, or it already got resolved, or maybe it is something we need to engage on but now we have ourselves collected and ready to talk from a posture of curiosity.