The Right Way To Have Difficult Conversations

The first step, according to Celeste Headlee:

“. . . be curious and have a genuine willingness to learn something from someone else—even someone with whom you vehemently disagree. I’m a mixed-race woman, just a few generations removed from slavery, but I’ve had valuable conversations with segregationists and members of the Sons of the Confederate Veterans.”

Headlee adds:

“Another crucial skill in difficult conversations is to resist the impulse to constantly decide whether you agree with what someone else is saying. The purpose of listening is to understand, not to determine whether someone else is right or wrong, an ally or an opponent.

Often, we decide very quickly whether we will agree with someone. We listen for certain words that might be clues to their politics or faith and use them to categorize people, trying to figure out who thinks like we do and who thinks differently. But these snap judgments usually aren’t very accurate, and they close us off from getting a more complete picture.

Psychologists call this tendency to lump people into groups the ‘halo and horns effect.’ When we approve of some salient quality of another person, we are more likely to judge them positively in other respects. The opposite is true as well.”

Headlee’s book, “We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations that Matter” is out today.

What Endures?

Thomas C. Corley asks why are some people rich and some people poor? Following a five-year long research project, he concocted a supposed blueprint for becoming wealthy. Unsurprisingly, his findings have found a large audience.

Most interesting to me about his methodology is what he doesn’t do or ask. He never tells any wealthy individual’s story; consequently, they remain mythical superior beings. Corley’s work contributes to the myth that wealthy people’s lives are way better than everyone else’s. It’s as if the wealthy have no experience with negative emotions; failed relationships; existential crises; health challenges; and even death. Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett will live forever won’t they?

People need a philosophy of wealth more than a blueprint. How much is enough? Wealth towards what ends? What endures?


Friday Assorted Links

1. The first year of college. “There I was, alone, with all these people around.”

2. Why teachers need their freedom.

“Alice and I decided to take the risk . . . . The mandated curriculum, we decided, would never be enough to encourage our students to love reading and writing.”

“When Alice and I decided to teach outrageously, our attitudes about our work improved, which data suggests improved our students’ attitudes. Teaching outrageously, it seems, also put us at a decreased risk for burnout because it allowed us to take control of our craft.”

3. I’m down with yoga and and I’m down with dogs, but spare me the Doga.

4. A 24 year old woman rode 86,573.2 miles, for an average of 237.19 miles per day for 365 straight days. Mostly on a 7 mile loop in Tampa, FL. Mind numbing.

Sunday’s Salish Sea Swim

Moving from the burbs to the rural coast was my idea. The Good Wife was perfectly content in our old crib. I promised to reassess in two years, now six months and counting.

To her credit, she’s giving our new location an honest effort. She’s met way more neighbors than me; she picks free-range fruit; she’s turned into a kayaker extraordinaire; and today, she went Next Level.

A neighbor-friend swam across our Budd Inlet (and back) a couple of years ago with his cousin. Then he repeated the feat a month ago with his daughter. That second crossing was all the inspiration the Gal Pal needed. She started talking about her attempt, but I have to confess, it didn’t totally register until a few days ago. Selflessly, neighbor-friend volunteered to swim with her and his wife and son signed on to escort the two of them in double kayaks.

At the last minute, even though I’m not in great swim shape, I decided to join in the fun. So Sunday morning at 9:19a I took off for the Cooper Point bluff following the lead of my intrepid kayak escort famous on Instagram as “Smoothie Girl”. I thought the 1.5 mile crossing would take me somewhere between 40-45 minutes.

At 100m I thought it was too damn cold for 90 minutes, but I acclimated quickly afterwards, and despite some cold pockets, the temp wasn’t an issue. The conditions, as you can see below, were perfect. Apart from a few boat wakes, the water was so still it was like swimming in our small, protected, go-to lake. Not so perfect was the gradual breakdown of my already sorry stroke; swimming over two giant jellies about 10-15′ below me; and some rando vegetation. The rookie that I am, I also thought a harmless seagull was going to dive bomb me.

I broke my cadence a lot because it took Smoothie Girl and me awhile to sync up. Note to self, build in a simulation swim or two. Forty-eight minutes later, I touched down on the Cooper Point shore. A few minutes after that I reversed course, telling SG, “I think I can make it back.”

The highlight of the return was crossing up with the Good Wife. I never thought we’d kiss in the middle of the Salish Sea. SG ripped me for not sighting better, but I told her it was up to her to sheepdog me, at which point, things improved. I tried to settle into a rhythm. The sun came out which made the view of the Capital Building six miles away even more scenic. I started counting breaths to 100, over and over. Touched terra firma in 1:41, quite a bit slower than guessed.

Way more impressive than my feat was the Gal Pal’s. Without her initiative I never would’ve spent Sunday morning in the middle of the Salish. It’s a tough physical feat and she nailed it, commenting more on how beautiful it was than how tough. Like fine wine, she’s coming into her own as a hiker, errand running cyclist, Gull Harbor kayaker, and open water swimmer.

Thanks to TM, AL, and CM, and SG, for the escorting and the Good Wife for living life to the fullest all Sunday morning.

fullsizeoutput_ff.jpegPre-swim navigating.

Friday Assorted Links

1. Going viral. Among lefties. Donald Trump is the First White President.

2. Washington State’s own. Harvey and Irma, Married 75 Years, Marvel at the Storms Bearing Their Names.

3. Americans losing faith in college degrees.

4. This 325′ tiny house is too modern for Alison’s taste. She’s waiting for the “Scandinavian cabin model” version.

5. What it’s truly like to be a fashion model. And fat bias starts early and takes a serious toll.

6. DACA recipient: ‘I ask you to defend DACA alongside me because it has helped your community grow’.

7. Why Western Pennsylvania dirt is used in the infields of most MLB stadiums.

8. The economy really is getting better. Here are two key signs.

Paragraphs to Ponder

From the Chronicle of Higher Education:

“Two years after alumnae filed a lawsuit and raised $12 million in a matter of weeks to keep the tiny institution from closing, Sweet Briar College’s faculty and its new president unveiled ambitious plans Wednesday morning to overhaul the curriculum, calendar, and pricing model. Their hope is to turn what has been a genteel women’s college with horses and lakes into a 21st-century liberal-arts institution that attracts young women by promising them leadership skills — and that appeals to their families by costing about the same as Virginia’s flagship public universities.

The curriculum changes, hammered out in just three months by the college’s faculty, will abolish traditional academic departments and instead align professors in three groups, one focusing on engineering, science, and technology, another on the environment and sustainability, and the third on creativity and the arts. A core curriculum highlighting leadership will include 10 to 12 “integrated courses” and be in place for 2018-19 academic year, and the college will drop some of its current majors. Accompanying the curricular changes will be a new calendar replacing two 15-week semesters with a three-week term, a pair of 12-week terms, and a final three-week term.

Meanwhile, the college will “reset” its prices by moving away from a steep sticker price and high discounts. The total for tuition, room and board, and fees will drop from over $50,000 in 2017-18 to $34,000 the following year — just about what an in-state student would pay at the University of Virginia.”