I have a friend named Misty. Misty and I are different in nearly every way imaginable, but as with any friendship, we have a few things we both are very passionate about. As I recall, our first conversation included subjects like sex education, religion and politics. I adore our conversations as much as I adore her. We both strive to put our families first. We both struggle at times with motherhood, and our roles as mothers, sisters, friends and coworkers. We are both women that want to see better for our children. We both view friendships like ours as the key to real change.
Not all of our conversations are political or about religion, but when something hits the news, I want to know her thoughts. When I read a book about feminism, I want her to be reading it also so that I can tell her my thoughts and get her perspective as well. Sometimes I think we both wish the other would come around a bit on certain issues. Sometimes the conversation feels more like an argument, or one of us is at a loss for words and we take a break. Most of the time we talk things through and we arrive at the same old conclusion: we agree on the root cause of whatever that day’s topic may be. When we take the time to work through an issue without name calling, personal attacks, preconceived ideas or the given political party lines, we get somewhere. We have a focus.
I wish that every conversation I had with people that involves feminism, politics, religion or any other hot button issue could be as productive as the talks I have with Misty. It is a difficult thing to not lash out at someone that doesn’t agree with you. I have been improving my communication skills within my friendship with Misty going on 5 years. All of that practice and just today I slipped and typed before I had a chance to calm down and think about what I was saying. I anticipated a negative response to my words before I had even written them and that is precisely what was given to me in return. This slip-up was not with Misty, but all the same I regret not contributing positively and instead allowing myself to be baited.
I am still a work in progress. Next time, I will allow myself time to think and respond properly. Do you have something you can work on to make these conversations more productive?