The Lost Art of Good Conversation: A Mindful Way to Connect with Others and Enrich Everyday Life, Sakyong Mipham, Penguin Random House, 2017.
Have you noticed in this highly politicized time that it’s hard to have a good conversation? Among family members, in the workplace, and in churches, having a good conversation has become challenging. When you consider the conversations that the United Methodist Church is (and has been) having, particularity about human sexuality, it becomes even more challenging to have a good conversation.
Sakyong Mipham, head of the worldwide Shambhala community, uses his book to remind readers that in this hyper-connected time in which we live, we do not always communicate well. It is easier to make our point and refuse to hear another’s on Facebook and Twitter than it is sitting at a table, face-to-face.
By doing so, we no longer rejoice with those who rejoice or cry with those who cry. We lose any intimacy that a conversation would normally have. As Mipham writes, “We are at a dangerous crossroads because when we lose feeling, our exchanges with others lose value.” (11)
“It is a warrior practice of kindness using words.” -Sakyong Mipham (16)
Mipham takes a spiritual approach in his discussion about opening the lines of communication. Through his accessible writing, Mipham introduces practices that will benefit transforming one’s communication. These practices include, but are not limited to, confession, being present, awareness and reflection, meditation, and smiling.
Each chapter stands alone, allowing the reader to read in the order of his or her choosing. And, at the end of each chapter is a reflection. This is a simple task to do throughout the day designed to help express oneself. A reflection question is typically included.
A good conversation may be the missing link.
When we think about the ails of our time, reclaiming the art of conversation may be the missing link. A conversation may be the very thing that returns light to the darkness. Too often we think that to have a peaceful conversation, we must all agree to agree with one another. Mipham cautions against this when he writes, “It is rude to try to force your opinion on someone.” (147)
That is not a good conversation.
Instead, he suggests, share respect for the other person. Use “I feel..” or, “I think…” language. And, “Stay open. Own what you say. Your genuineness can inspire others to be honest as well.” (148)
Sakyong Mipham provides a wise and informative guide towards reclaiming the art of good conversation. As well as reclaiming the human connection. And by doing so, we may just transform the world.
You can buy your own copy by clicking on the image below.
Thanks to Blogging for Books and the publisher for a review copy.