I’ve been having challenging conversations for a long time. My mother encouraged me to tell the truth at all costs, so I learned to be brutally honest about how I felt and what I wanted early on. Sometimes, it would bring us closer and build trust. Sometimes it would push me to argue with her for hours, usually about whether I had the right to go out late, or wear what I wanted. My brother would always wonder why I would even bother. It’d be easier to just do what I want and not tell her. I just believed that we could find common ground. If she wanted me to be honest, then I wanted my mother to accept all of me.
I started to learn that our conversations went better when I wasn’t taking things personally, when I didn’t attack her motives. I learned to speak from my wishes and play to the fact that I know she wants the best for me and for me to grow into my own person. We grew to respect each other more deeply and learn better ways to communicate what we wanted. Myself, desiring my independence and my mother, wanting me to be safe and build a good future.
My mother passed away in 2011, and I thank her for laying the groundwork to talk through hard stuff, and do it with love. Thanks to all of that, I’m pretty practiced and tested, but conversations that involve conflict and high risk are always hard. Sometimes I leave these conversations energized, sometimes I leave them exhausted and unclear on how to move forward. Whenever I have these conversations, I push myself to remember that I want to deepen my trust and connections with others. That I want to grow with those that I care about and I try and remember this quote below.
"Without inner change, there can be no outer change. Without collective change, no change matters." Angel Kyodo Williams
I think that’s why Utahn Conversations means so much to me. My mom always pushed me to grow and I value that so much in my community. I would love to see respect and care at the root of more of the challenging conversations that are held here in Utah
So, how can you manage conflict as a conversation host?
These types of conflicts aren't the norm in the Utahn Conversations setting. The conversations built out in Utahn Conversations are designed to help folks listen and empathize, however it's helpful to know what to do just in case. In the meanwhile, I hope these tools can help you in all of your relationships. Directly dealing with challenges is hard, but can help you grow with those you love.